Posted on 12/08/2013 at 12:00 AM by Jeffrey Bruner
(Second in a three-part series.)
Let's take a look at the blurb, starting with my wife's favorite book:
"Elizabeth Bennet has four sisters, a mother desperate to find them all good marriages, and not much family wealth. When Elizabeth meets the handsome and rich Mr. Darcy, it is not love at first sight. But there's more to Darcy than just pride as Elizabeth grows to realize. A charming and timeless romance and comedy of manners and morality, Pride and Prejudice is eminently rereadable." (385 characters)
In four sentences, we learn that this is a romantic comedy about perceptions and misperceptions and that we can expect a happily-ever-after ending.
It even finds a way to reassure people afraid of the classics that it's a "timeless romance" and "eminently rereadable."
Those sentences are short and compact. Yes, the marketer has the advantage of selling a book where most people are aware of the title, but for millions of younger Americans that's about it. They are more familiar with Katy Perry than Jane Austen.
Here's what the marketer doesn't devote space to:
That Elizabeth lives in England.
The names of her sisters or her mother.
The role of Charles and Caroline Bingley.
The subplot involving the no-good George Wickham.
Now am I saying all marketing blurbs must be this short? No.
But I do believe that any book — including fantasy novels — can be marketed in 600 or 700 characters, including the spaces.
Anything beyond that and you risk overcomplicating things and confusing the buyer and, therefore, losing your chance to make a sale.
All great marketing keeps it simple. Do not write your blurb the same way you write your novel.
This is advertising. It is a 15-second commercial for your book.
What is the journey of the protagonist? What is the primary obstacle in his or her way? How will the reader feel after having read your book?
Pick your adjectives carefully and use them for maximum effect. Keep the number of characters mentioned by name to two or three.
Don't bog the buyer down in unnecessary detail — it's fine to mention the story takes place on a desert planet but do we really need to know in the blurb that it's named Tatooine? No.
Should you devote some of your precious blurb space to endorsements?
If the author is someone famous like Lee Child? Yes. If it's to say the book has 50 five-star reviews on Amazon? Yes.
If it's because Amazon reader "Elizabeth D." really thought your book was fantastic? No.
Keep it simple.
Keep it short.
Think like a marketer.
Sell more books.