The Blurb: Writing a Creative Blurb for your Back Cover

I’m posting this guest post for Sarah Kent. I’m not sure about you, but I could always use some help on how-to write a Creative Blurb for your Back Cover. Thanks!


For many of your potential readers and reviewers, your book’s back cover blurb is essential. These days, blurbs appear everywhere, as a summary on your website describing your book, on Amazon and practically anywhere you may find people discussing your work. Book reviewers often use the blurb on their websites to show their readers exactly what your book is about too so you need to be sure it’s absolutely perfect.

Whether you’ve written an academic text book or a romping romance, the blurb you create needs to be appropriate for your audience. In more general categories, you can be a little more creative but there are some standard features which should always be present in your blurb, if you’re looking to attract more readers anyway.

Hints and Suggestions

A well written blurb will hint and make suggestions to where your plot may lead without giving anything too essential away. Keywords such as ‘secret’ and ‘hidden’ feature heavily in blurbs and are great for drawing potential readers in, they want to know what this hidden secret is and are more likely to read or buy your book on this basis.

If you’re novel relies on an extreme and climactic twist, you can say this but obviously don’t reveal anything more, interesting readers who are particularly drawn in by mystery and intrigue.

Genre Specifics

If you are a genre writer, you can stick to the conventions of your specific genre and try and choose words and phrases that while applying to your novel of course, also resonate with readers of the genre. In the romance genre for example, readers are keen to relate to their heroes or heroines so naming them fully is always extremely successful and again, hinting as a touch of lust or heartbreak somewhere within the blurb will also draw in more readers. Crime or thriller genre writers should obviously hint at the heart of the action, dirty dealings and what aspects of the underworld are going to be drawn out in their work. Your blurb is designed to captivate your reader and you want them to feel like they cannot live without finding out what happens to Kate Johnson or where Austin Keller hid the gun. If you’re a crime or science fiction writer the importance of setting is also high, especially if you have created your own world or scenario for the characters to exist in.

Characters and Settings

Your characters are likely to be essential to your plot and they’re also the key way of connecting with your reader. Naming your protagonists and characterising them in some part is essential in your blurb for example, “Charlie Jones, car thief extraordinaire” or “Tracy Hellman, never been kissed” as this draws in your reader further and they want to know exactly why these characteristics have become so ingrained into these characters. You want your reader to engage and relate to your characters you need to make them sound interesting or at least make them sound like something interesting is about to happen to them.

The same can be said of setting or place. Whether you’ve created your own planet in your fantasy novel or your book is set in your local neighbourhood, a quick nod to this effect will further interest different readers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a specifically named place but even mentioning ‘the rolling hills’ or ‘the red brick university’ is enough to give the reader a sense of place and help them to fall into your novel with ease.

Rhetorical Questions –do they work?

Plenty of blurbs are packed out with questions to the reader, questions that can only be answered by reading the book and sometimes this works and other times it puts people off. Rather than reeling off a multitude of different questions, perhaps just stick with one very important one such a “Will Johnny ever escape the fate of his birth?” or “Will Sammy come back alive?” as these types of questions, set aside on their own, really do speak to potential readers and have much more impact than a long list of roaming questions which can easily be forgotten.

Writing your blurb is essential to the whole production of your work and can be the difference between 10 and 100 book sales. It shouldn’t exceed 250 words and so, should be easy in comparison to your magnum opus? However, don’t underestimate its importance and think carefully about every word you choose as each one could interest a different type of reader.


Sarah Kent is a freelance writer offering advice for individuals and small businesses on marketing tactics and tools. She is keen to offer practical and useable hints and tips that are effective and yet don’t cost the earth. 

9 thoughts on “The Blurb: Writing a Creative Blurb for your Back Cover

  1. Jerry Dunne June 24, 2012 / 10:23 am

    Hi Stephanie,
    This is an interesting post and one well worth reading. One thing I have noticed on Smashwords is that some of the blurbs have spelling mistakes, bad grammer and are poorly written, some very poorly written. If a blurb gives you a taste of what’s inside the book, then these writers have no doubt succeeded. It is amazing that anyone would not spend time on the first piece of writing that a potential customer is going to see of their writing.
    One thing I worry about in general, and on a slightly different note, is whether American readers understand that British spelling is different and are not put off by it. Does anyone have an opinion on this?

    • Ruth Ann Nordin June 24, 2012 / 2:35 pm

      I saw a few reviews on a British book where a couple of American readers complained about the author’s poor spelling, and it had to be pointed out that British spelling is different for some words. Those readers just didn’t know any better, but what was unfortunate was that even though they were wrong about the spelling, their star rating remains on Amazon. However, I’ve seen reviewers who complained about a book and rated it low based off stuff that never even happened in the book. So no matter what you do, there’s always someone out there who thinks they know something but really don’t. It’s very annoying.

      • Jerry Dunne June 24, 2012 / 5:55 pm

        Hi Ruth,
        thanks for replying.
        Now that I think about it, I’ve come across people moaning about American spelling on English newspaper blogs and Americans moaning about British spelling when they’ve actually linked to articles from British newspapers. However, more people are coming across it and so are becoming aware of it, but it’s amazing to find some people on both sides who appear to get a bit outraged over it.
        As far as books are concerned, when buying self-published works off Amazon, it’s unlikely, I think, to get anything other than the spelling from the author’s country of origin. So people will have to get used to the variables. Having said that, I put one of my books set in Arizona in the first person in American spelling. I had to choose between one or the other and it wouldn’t have looked right leaving it in British spelling.
        But like you said, whatever you do, someone is going to moan about it.

    • Stephannie Beman June 25, 2012 / 5:22 pm

      I’d say some readers are aware of it and some are not. Some people just like complaining for the sake of complaining.

  2. Ruth Ann Nordin June 24, 2012 / 2:22 pm

    Awesome post, and it’s very helpful as I am working on a couple of these right now for upcoming books. I especially benefited from the rhetorical questions. Thank you! Now I know how to end the blurb! That was always the hardest part, and the rhetorical questions never seemed to fit right.

  3. Strayer June 24, 2012 / 6:01 pm

    Some days reviewers get up on the wrong side of the bed and take after a writer. They also do this at the supermarket.
    I struggled with a short description and a long description for some time. I finally had the two characters do it. It worked. They are four and don’t understand any of it. Neither do I.
    I will be struggling with book for adult readers. I can see it now. I will go around and around for days.

    • Strayer June 24, 2012 / 6:03 pm

      the book. I have no excuse for that. Brain death will have to do.

  4. williamkendall1 June 25, 2012 / 3:53 pm

    Excellent post!

    I wrote my blurb a good long while ago, and I want to take another look at it, see if it needs to be tweaked or not.

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