The blurb of a fiction novel is the copy on the back of a paperback or on the inside flap of a hardcover book which serves as a teaser for the plot of the novel. You probably read them every time you go into a bookstore, but most people haven’t thought about how to write one themselves. If you’ve written a fiction novel, however, you’ll need to know how to write the blurb.
Most fiction novel blurbs are between 75 and 200 words long and are not meant to sound like a synopsis. You don’t want to give away too much about the plot, but you do want to entice the reader to purchase the book.
Writing a Blurb for Your Fiction Novel: Read Other Blurbs
To get you in the right frame of mind for writing your blurb, I’d recommend sitting down with a few of your favorite fiction novels and studying how those authors did it. Look for the flow, the voice and the style of the blurb as well as length and language. It’s best to study blurbs of books you’ve read so that you know how the blurb compares to the actual novel.
Writing a Blurb for Your Fiction Novel: Mention Awards of Critiques
If your manuscript has already been reviewed or critiqued by major publications, mention that in your blurb. This tells prospective readers that your book has been well-received by critics, which is a definite selling point.
However, make sure that you only list critiques or reviews by household names, such as Publisher’s Weekly, New York Times or Washington Post. For example: In the book that Publisher’s Weekly called ‘Stupendous!’…
Writing a Blurb for Your Fiction Novel: Write and Cut
A blurb is supposed to be a short teaser for your novel, not a four-page synopsis, but in the interest of saying what you really want to say, one of the best techniques in writing a fiction blurb is to write and cut.
Sit down and write a blurb that is longer than what it will eventually become, then take your red pen and start cutting and pruning the words. You want your blurb to be as succinct as possible, and finding new ways to write in the active voice and to make the words stand out will work in your favor.
Writing a Blurb for Your Fiction Novel: Start with a Question
Many readers are attracted to a fiction blurb that places them inside the story through a question, so don’t be afraid to play the What If game in your blurb. Your first sentence can be a question that leads into a description of the plot, or your entire blurb can be in the form of a question. For example, your first sentence might read: What would you do if the President of the United States was shot right in front of your eyes?
Writing a Blurb for Your Fiction Novel: The First Exciting Scene
Often, you’ll read the blurb on a fiction novel, purchase the book and discover that the actual novel goes far beyond the scope of the blurb. This is normal. Even if the first exciting scene in your novel is only a precursor to the main plot, start your blurb there. Your readers will be excited when they discover that your blurb is only the starting point on a great adventure.
Writing a fiction novel blurb doesn’t have to be a three-month project over which you pour blood, sweat and tears, but it should be taken seriously. The blurb will be your readers’ first look at your novel, and will even be the description that shows up on Internet bookstores. If you are stumped about how to write the blurb for your fiction novel, seek assistance from your agent, publisher or a writer friend.