News room: How to write an effective blurb

How to write an effective blurb by Sarah Juckes

Last week, The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) published our top ten tips for an effective blurb, on their self-publishing advice blog. As the article proved so popular, we thought we’d share a few different blurb styles, to help you choose which blurb is right for you. You can read the top tips over on the ALLi blog.

Here are the three most common types of blurb, and how to map your synopsis to fit. Which one do you prefer?

  • The ‘Three Point’ blurb – City of Lies by R. J. Ellory
  • This blurb has condensed its story into three paragraphs, using powerful verbs and adjectives to set the ‘Stakes’.
    The first paragraph introduces us to the protagonist and sets up a series of questions – why are his childhood memories painful? He couldn’t prepare himself for what truth?

    The second paragraph reveals a second ‘Stake’ – that he is now involved in an underworld of crime.
    The blurb ends with an ellipsis and a series of unanswered questions the reader will want to read the to find out the answers to.
    This blurb type is perhaps the most common, and is ideal for novels with more than one main ‘Stake’. It is important to keep this kind of blurb as short as possible. In this example, the first paragraph could work very well as a blurb on its own, meaning it will still encourage readers to read the book, even if they stop reading after the first paragraph.

  • The ‘Stake & Wrap’ – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • This blurb type not only sounds delicious, but does everything the last blurb did in one paragraph. By setting the place (The Republic of Gilead), the reader has an idea that this book is science fiction. The language is literary (‘deviates’, ‘obliterate’), which suggests the reader can expect the same from the book.

    In only three sentences, the stakes are set and the reader wants to know more.

    The second paragraph ‘wraps’ up the book in third person. This is quite common in blurb writing and can be useful if you don’t yet have a review or endorsement to pop on your cover. If you struggle to sing your own praises, then ask a friend to help describe your writing. Be careful not to use too many adjectives.

  • The ‘Snippet’ blurb – Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • This blurb example is only three short sentences written by the protagonist himself. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to give much away, but in these words we know the character (August), know the Stakes (he ‘looks worse’ than we could imagine), and we get a feel for the voice of the book.

    This type of blurb is perfect if you have an unusual voice or POV that you think is a main hook for readers. If so, choose a snippet from your book and use it!

    For more on blurb-writing and cover design, read our cover advice page.

    Learn how your blurb can help your Metadata (it’s important!)

    Have your own blurb advice? Post your tips below!

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    Written by
    Sarah Juckes
    Published on
    Self publishing, Advice, Tips, Effective, Blurb, and Help