Building a Blurb

Today I have a guest post by Ben Galley

A good cover can make a reader swipe it off the shelf, but a bad blurb can have it thrown  straight back again.

There are two sides to every book cover, and I don’t just mean the front and the back. I mean the art and the words, the blurb. The combination of the two is a bit like those infamous “Golf Sale” signs you see being held aloft in the centre of every busy shopping hub across the lands. The signs are usually painted a luminous, ungodly yellow to grab your attention. You look up, squinting at the brightness, mystified and curious, until you see the words splayed across its cardboard face – “Golf Sale!” I do not golf. I have no need for a golf sale. I walk on, sign ignored.

Book covers are like these signs. The cover attracts the browser’s eyes, whether by art or by colour or both, and leaves the blurb to handle the task of the information. It’s a symbiotic relationship, one that needs to be perfectly balanced. It’s an important one too. Getting it right can mean the difference between your books being taken home or downloaded, or being snubbed.

There are three rules to writing a blurb:

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The Secret Art of Getting a Blurb

One of the things that seem to most visibly distinguish self-published books from traditional ones on the bookstore shelf is the cover quote: those few words of praise from another established writer.

Yes, sometimes they may seem jarring – like when the cover of one of your favourite, classic authors gets defaced with a quote from a young ‘trendy’ upstart you don’t really care about; their effectiveness as marketing tool may be dubious – do people actually buy books because of a single sentence on the cover? But in general, having a famous name on the cover is regarded as a sign of maturity and accomplishment. It means your book made it big, that you’ve become a hot rising star in the galaxy of old giants.

It is also often regarded as something only a traditional publisher can get you.

Well, that part’s not quite true…

(if you’re interested in reading the rest of this post, head over to Ben Galley’s SHELFHELP website, where today I’m guest-posting.)