How to write a blurb is important to any author setting out to self-publish, or wanting to market their book. How do you do it?
A couple of years ago, I was publishing my first book – my Berlin thriller, Blood Summit.
- worked hard on my characters (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site)
- made sure I was consistent on point of view;
- written a gripping first chapter, preceded by an attention-grabbing and ominous prologue;
- built plenty of jeopardy for the protagonist, Helen Gale;
- and, by chapter 6, introduced a “B” story.
I had also made a big effort to get the best possible cover for my new book.
When it came to designing the back cover for the paperback, and for putting the book on line, however, I realised I needed a great blurb.
I did three things.
How to write a blurb: have a go
My first step was to consult widely, eg the great folks at blurb.com, and try to write the best blurb I could.
I was keen to make sure I mentioned Helen Gale, the heroine; to create a mystery; to reference the genre; and to keep it short.
My first effort looked like this:
More complex than Dan Brown. More thrilling than Le Carré. Closer to the truth than either.
Counter-terrorism expert Helen Gale has one job: to protect the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the US, Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany, Canada and Italy at the Children’s Summit in Berlin.
The Reichstag is the most fortified building on earth. Yet terrorists take world leaders, tycoons, one hundred innocent children and Helen’s husband captive. Then the executions start.
Helen is suspended from duty and sued for negligence. Yet she alone sees the mastermind behind the siege. As US special forces plan a deadly assault, Helen must enter the shattered hulk of the Reichstag to stop a bloodbath.
“The genuine article: clever and melancholy: a security-pass into a world-within-a-world” – Matthew Parris on Robert Pimm.
How to write a blurb: crowd-sourcing
Stage 2 was to consult potential readers. I wrote a blog, with the following text:
OK, everyone. Help me. Ahead of publication of my new novel, Blood Summit this autumn I am drafting the blurb for the back page. What do you think of the above? Would it make you want to read the book? Comments welcome: do use the comments box or send me an e-mail.
I’m crowdsourcing comments and you, faithful readers, are my crowd.
Let me know what you think.
I got great replies from readers, leading me to shorten and improve my first draft.
Stage 3: consult an expert
Finally, I consulted an expert in how to write a blurb – a professional editor. I used the wonderful, always friendly and reliable Kate Coe, who for a modest sum gave me some terrific advice (she has also done the typesetting for my books Seven Hotel Stories and Corona Crime as well as Blood Summit).
I greatly enjoyed working with Kate and would heartily recommend her.
How to write a blurb: the result
By the time I had finished, my blurb looked like this:
“Hugely entertaining” – John Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker thrillers
“Utterly gripping” – Edmund de Waal, author of “The Hare with Amber Eyes”
Counter-terrorism expert Helen Gale has one job: to protect world leaders at a summit in the Berlin Reichstag.
But terrorists take hostage presidents, prime ministers, one hundred innocent children – and Helen’s journalist husband.
Then the executions start.
Helen’s life implodes. Yet she alone can see the truth. As special forces plan a deadly assault, she must enter the shattered hulk of the Reichstag to stop a bloodbath.
“Blood Summit is a cracker. Pimm has hit the ground running” – Matthew Parris
What do you think? I’d welcome your comments.
If you would like to read more writing tips, see my writing tips category on this blog. 39 posts and counting!
If you would like to have a look at my own writing, my most recent books are: my blackly comic Seven Hotel Stories; hard-hitting Berlin thriller Blood Summit; and Corona Crime – a thriller for a world in the grip of coronavirus.