Book Blurbs: A Marketing Opportunity by Hank Quense
In online writing groups and on Goodreads, I often see requests for comments on an author’s book blurb. In almost every case, this book blurb is really a short synopsis. I believe a short synopsis and a book blurb are two completely different documents.
A short synopsis goes on the inside flap of the cover on a print book while the book blurb goes on the back cover. With ebooks and paperback, the book blurb goes on the book’s webpage followed by the short synopsis.
A book blurb is a marketing tool designed to attract a potential buyer’s attention. In other words, it can be used to differentiate the author’s book.
Differentiation, or the book blurb, is an important element in a marketing plan. It is a versatile tool and has many uses. It is also a key element in converting potential readers to book buyers and it’s a start on building your brand..
So, the question is: What is a book blurb? Well, the blurb is a three-part statement about your book. These statements tell the world why your book matters and why readers should buy it. Essentially, what it entails is creating three sentences or short paragraphs that can be used to help sell your book.
Here are descriptions of each of the three elements.
Pitch Line: this is the first statement and it is the hook to grab the readers’ attention. Its purpose is to persuade the reader to keep reading the other two statements. It should be simple, one or two sentences at most, and it must make a clear statement about your book.
What’s in it for the buyer? is a statement that explains what the reader (i.e. a book buyer) will get in exchange for money. This must be explicit. This statement is not the place to get cute. Don’t come across like the legendary used-car salesman. Tell the readers what benefit they’ll get from buying the book. Think of this statement in this way; if your book is surrounded by hundreds of similar-sized books on a shelf in a bookstore, what would persuade the buyer to choose your book instead of one of the others?
What’s different about this book? With all the books published every month, what makes your book stand out from the others?
These dry descriptions are difficult to grasp so I’ll use examples from my published books: one non-fiction and one fiction.
Creating Stories uses these three statements.
Pitch line: Do you have a story in you? Do you know how to write it or how to tell it?
What’s in it for the buyer? Creating Stories has the answers. Hank Quense, the author of more than twenty books, tells you how to do it.
What’s different about this book? Quense believes that stories come from the melding of three creating stories processes: getting ideas, story design and story-telling. Ideas have to come from the author. Creating Stories covers the last two.
Here is the fiction example. For my novel, Falstaff’s Big Gamble, I developed this book blurb.
Pitch Line: This novel is Shakespeare’s Worst Nightmare.
What’s in it for the buyers? It takes two of the Bard’s most famous plays, Hamlet and Othello, and recasts them into Gundarland. There, Hamlet becomes a dwarf and Othello a dark elf
What’s different about this book? If that isn’t bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus.
When you use your differentiation statements, don’t use the term “pitch line” or the questions. Just have the statement flow into a short paragraph
So what are the differentiation statement good for? How can they be used? You can use it anywhere it’ll fit. If you can’t fit the entire statement someplace (such as on Twitter), use the pitch line by itself.
Here are some common uses.
On a website: On your book-buying web page, make the pitch line the opening statement followed by the rest of your differentiation message. Why? On the internet, attention spans are too minuscule to measure. When visitors land on your web page, you have a second or two to persuade them to read beyond the first line of text they see. That is the job of your pitch line: to get the visitors to read the rest of the blurb.
Trailers: Make sure your differentiation statements are clearly visible and emphasized in the trailer. Get the message in the beginning and the end of the trailer. Innumerable people from all over the world may view the trailer and you want them to understand your message.
Internet Announcements: Log onto social media sites and post an announcement that your book will be or is available. Include the blurb in the opening part of the announcement. Use it on book sites like Goodreads. After the blurb, add information about your book. You can upload the cover image and add descriptive text about it.
Press Releases: Display your differentiation message prominently. Make it the opening statement in the body of the release. Rephrase it and place it a second time further down in the body.
Sig Files: Use the signature capability in your email program to build a unique signature using the pitch line by itself. Link that pitch line to a book-seller website. Now, every time you send an email, you’ll also be pitching your book.
Once you’ve used the book blurb as a marketing tool, you’ve taken a big step toward getting people to buy your book. The blurb will also start to build your brand.
Keep going! You can do this.
For vacations, Hank and Pat usually visit distant parts of the galaxy. Occasionally, they also time-travel.
Besides writing novels, Hank lectures on fiction writing, publishing and book marketing. He is most proud of his talk showing grammar school kids how to create a short story. He used these lectures to create an advanced ebook with embedded videos to coach the students on how to create characters, plots and settings. The target audience is 4th to 7th graders. The book’s title is Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids.
My publisher helps with the pitch and blurb, which is good, as I’m not the best with them.
Thanks for your time and your advice, Hank. Happy Father’s day.
That’s what I tell my authors when we are working on the blurb for their books – pitch line then three parts that sell the book. (And those three parts must be 120 words or less so we have room for reviews.) We don’t really use a longer synopsis anywhere, but we do use a shortened version of the blurb for bookmarks and postcards.