Who would ever have thought that writing a blurb would be harder than writing the darn book? Well, anyone who has ever tried to condense the eloquence and glory and sheer magnificence of their manuscript into a single page synopsis probably has some idea what I’m talking about.
I have been at this for two days now and my eyes are starting to blur over the slew of similar but slightly different lines I’ve used in an attempt to perfectly capture the sense of my story. I’m finally NEARLY happy with it. It needs fresh eyes and some tightening to remove surplus words, but it conforms to the rules and has its own little bit of panache.
So what does a blurb need?
It needs a protagonist and, unless that protagonist has no name in the story, that protagonist needs to be named. Your potential readers need to be able to identify with your character and form an emotional connection to their situation, which is really hard to do without a name.
It needs a hook, not necessarily at the start of the blurb, but somewhere you need to give away an early twist that is going to grab people in. Look at all the best book blurbs in the store, almost every single one of them will tell you something big that happens in the first few chapters.
We need to see what problem the protagonist is trying to solve and have some idea of what is standing in their way.
Of course some genres require extra things. For example fantasy novels often have a reference to the setting to give an overview of the big world problem, which often occurs in fantasy novels.
But most of all we need that emotional connection. We need to give a damn about the character and have a reason to want to find out what happens, while also getting a feel for the tone and style of the book.
Asking much? You bet! That’s why the big publishing houses often have copywriters employed for this very purpose. Of course they don’t often read the whole book and have less knowledge of the story than the author, but they understand about targeting the right audience and using the minimal amount of words for the maximum amount of punch.
So next time you are reading a good blurb take a moment to appreciate the sheer mastery that goes into the craft!