Blurbs: Short but not sweet

Hänsel und Gretel2 It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is far easier to write a 70,000 word book than to write a 200 word blurb about it. Kind Haerin asked me to give a quick synopsis of the novel that I sold to Love Inspired Historical, so I tried to write one. I need to do this anyway; Harlequin requires authors to fill out an Art Fact Sheet so that their Art and Marketing departments have something to go on when designing the cover or promoting the book. I’ve just been putting it off.

When writing a book, you can get lost in the characters and the story. When I was writing the 70,000 words, it was easy to pat the inner editor on the head and throw it a chunk of verbosity to chew on while I wrote.

But with a blurb, you can’t get lost in a forest of words. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s just you and 200 words. And my inner editor has been having a field day chewing up every attempt at a blurb. You wouldn’t believe the names that my I.E. has called me. (Well, if you’re a writer, you probably would.) This attempt was puerile, that attempt was pathetic, anyone reading this would laugh but they would never want to buy. That sort of thing.

Eventually, I crumpled up the piece of paper I was using and threw it against the wall, picturing my inner editor as the target. (I’m telling you, writing on paper is never going to go out of fashion. It’s very satisfying to crumple up words that aren’t working.)

Currently, I’m combing through the Internet looking. Do you have any suggestions? Every writer has to go down this path during the course of their writing career. Surely some of them have left breadcrumbs.

Digital Book World broke down blurb writing into four parts.

Jane Friedman provided suggestions on what to say and what not to say on a back cover.

The Romance University shared five tips for writing a blurb.

3 thoughts on “Blurbs: Short but not sweet

  1. Mun Haerin says:

    You tried to write a blurb because of me? I feel quite guilty. Ah well, I suppose you had to write one sometime anyway.

    Now I feel curious about blurbs. Maybe I’ll try writing mine after my plot is set in stone. I’ve heard that writing a short summary of a novel aids the drafting process.

    I don’t actually know what your novel is about, so I can’t give you specific advice, but I think reading is always the best way to write well. Perhaps you should read the blurbs of your favourite novels? And as with all writing, don’t analyse too much while you’re getting the words down. You can always revise later!

    If the short word limit bothers you, maybe you could write something outrageously long (500 words or more) and chip away at it until it’s short.

    • Evelyn Hill says:

      If you write the blurb before the story, then you’ll probably have to rewrite it later. The story always seems to change while it’s being told.
      I don’t think there is an easy way to do this 🙂 But probably it gets easier after a few times. I think. I hope.

Leave a Reply