Writing a Back Cover Blurb

In all honesty, writing a blurb for the back cover should be the fun part of creating a novel. We get to be splashy, to the point, mysterious and brief. But often, writing a blurb—a summary for a book—becomes an anxious time for a writer. How can they dramatically and effectively tell their story (without giving away the ending) in two hundred words?

Don’t sweat it. You can do it. And there’s a formula to help you.

First, check out Marilynn Byerly’s blog to gain insight to the formula used in various genres.

I used it create the blurb for Shadows in the Stone. I’m using it again to create blurbs for two short stories I’m about to publish. After writing a draft for a blurb, I usually send it around to a few family members and friends; I might even blog about it to see what readers think. I apply the suggestions and hopefully come up with something that sparkles.

So what do you think about the blurb for Dancing in the Shine? You don’t need to read the story to know if it works or not? It works if it convinces you it’s a story you might want to read.

Diane Lynn McGyver - Dancing in the ShineJoan’s boyfriend Frank wants them to conceive a beautiful daughter he can cherish, and Joan is terrified. Will she use the information discovered at the public archives to escape a life of torture and pain? Or will she continue to be a pawn in Frank and his sister’s twisted world? (51 words)

Blurbs should reflect the length of the story it’s designed for. In other words, if the blurb is for a full-length novel, it should be around 200 words. You certainly wouldn’t want to write less than 100 words, and more than 300 words is pushing the attention span of shoppers who don’t have a lot of time to spend reading blurbs.

Remember, the blurb has to fit on the cover of a paperback in a text even those who are in denial about needing glasses can read, along with the bar code, the price, publisher’s logo and maybe a picture of you.

Diane Lynn McGyver - The Man Who Reads ObituriesShort stories, such as The Man Who Reads Obituaries, requires shorter blurbs, between 50 and 150 words.

Laurence Aiden Morris has waited more than six months for this day. Still, he’s unsure if he’s ready to make the journey to Heaven…or Hell. It feels like something is missing, but he can’t imagine what it is. While he bides his time, he reads the obituaries, hoping that by connecting with travelling souls, he’ll find what he seeks. (59 words)

After creating a blurb draft, check out the links below to fine tune it and add some pizzazz.

1) Writers in the Storm Blog: Sharla Rae writes Gotcha Blurbs: Easy and Fun to Write

2) The Book Marketing Maven: How to Write a Back Blurb for Your Book

3) Scribbling on the Computer: Kathrine Roid writes How to Write a Back Cover Blurb for Your Novel

A back cover blurb should trigger feelings for the main character. If a reader can sympathise with the character, you’ve won half the battle. If the blurb contains a glimpse of the conflict and a wee bit of mystery, you may make the reader care about what happens to the character.

Then…just then…they may decide to read the book.

. . . . . . . . . * . . . . . . . . .

Now Available at Kindle, Chapters Indigo (Kobo) and Smashwords.

Reviews for Shadows in the Stone can be found at Goodreads.

Diane Lynn McGyver - Shadows in the Stone





Also available as a free-read until August 30, 2012: Mutated Blood Lines, a short story. Barnes & Noble, Chapters Indigo (Kobo) and Smashwords.

Reviews of Mutated Blood Lines can be found at Goodreads (NOTE: This version still uses my old pen name, Meyrick).

Diane Lynn McGyver - Mutated Blood Lines

20 thoughts on “Writing a Back Cover Blurb

  1. This is very timely as I am just working on the back cover blurb for Amanda in England – The Missing Novel. My books are for children so the blurb should only be about 100 words. Thanks for the suggestions.


    • I was the same way, Robin. I think it’s the only time I’ve faced writer’s block. My mind went blank and I didn’t know what to write. Thanks for dropping by.


  2. Diane, this inspired me to write a couple of experimental back cover blurbs of my own…I don’t think I’ll be attempting it for fun again for awhile. It was difficult! I have a new appreciation for those who succeed in writing captivating blurbs.


  3. I was told I had to limit my blurbs for both my 300 page Fantasy novels to 90 words. It just wasn’t enough and I am not really happy with them. The blurbs and ‘elevator pitches’ are, for me, the hardest part of writing.


    • Yvonne, didn’t you self-publish your book? Then you have the final say on the blurb. Ninety words for a 300-page fantasy novel isn’t enough. Mine is 173. I could probably knock the first paragraph off, but that would still leave 148 words. Perhaps you could add a few sentences and update the blurb on your website and the Kindle website. You have control of that.

      The wonderful thing about publishing your own books is that you have control. If something makes you unhappy, you can change it.


      • Thanks Diane. I have, indeed, added to the Kindle site, Smashwords site (new) and Createspace page. But I had a pro design my cover for the paper version and that was what he said he could make fit in order to get my picture on. To give credit, though, I do love my covers. In retrospect I think I ought to have foregone the picture.Live and learn.


    • Before I wrote one, I thought it would be fun, then I had to write one. I was stumped on what to put in it. Then I found the first web site noted in this post and it became much easier. Now, I’m not so afraid.


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