I am a collector of articles that I find interesting. I ran through my list recently and reread Laura Schnebly Campbell’s article, The Art of the Book Blurb.
Here are some points made in the article:
- Campbell says the book blurb (back cover copy) is the one aspect of publishing that the author has some control over. Blurbs are all about presenting your book in its best possible light, in a very short form, to the people who will want it. It’s your most valuable marketing tool.
- She defines your readers as those who “already know what they’re looking for…and it’s the kind of book you write…They’re glancing through story descriptions because they ALREADY want to buy your kind of book.”
- A typical blurb is fifty words. Someone who’s skimming through a whole selection of possible stories online or in a bookstore wants to get the flavor of your book in just a few sentences or paragraphs.
If you read Campbell’s original article, read the comments, in which readers give examples of blurbs that hooked them.
How can I apply all this information to my own work-in-progress? In the past I drafted three elevator pitches, varying in length from 23 to 41 words. But I’d never written a blurb. How could I expand my pitch to efficiently present to a potential reader everything she or he needs to know to decide to buy my book?
Here’s what I came up with for The Unicornologist:
High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy while examining the Unicorn Tapestries: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs the idea off as being preposterous, she soon discovers a unicorn in the woods behind her home, and finds evidence it is in danger of being captured or worse.
Though she shares the unicorn’s existence with two of her closest friends (one who believes her and one who doesn’t), the task of protecting the unicorn is hers alone. Is she equal to the challenge? Who are these enemies who stalk the unicorn, and what are their intentions?
It’s 107 words, which is much more than 50, but I’m comforted when I notice that some of the blurbs in the comments of Campbell’s article are also much longer than 50 words.
What about you? Do you have a blurb for a book you’ve written? Or did you buy a book because its blurb was irresistible? Share in the comments below.