Posted On May 29, 2015 by Print This Post

The Million-Dollar Apple by Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Book blurbs. What should you include? What do you leave out? There isn’t a secret formula for writing a book blurb, but Laurie Schnebly Campbell is here to give us the skinny on factors you should consider when creating your blurb.

Comment for a chance to win free registration to Laurie’s Blurbing Your Book workshop. (Details below) 

All you’ve gotta do is sell ONE, right?

For writers who dream of buying a castle in France and creating a new novel every few years while overlooking their vineyards from the tower library, selling only one book to some incredibly wealthy patron might be the perfect answer.

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But for those of us who’d like to reach a few more readers?
We need to sell more books.
Which is a big “oh, shoot,” because:

Most writers aren’t natural sales people.

If we were, we’d be out there selling cars. Or cosmetics. Or office supplies. Or anything that requires an innate ability to make people plunk down their money for whatever we want ’em buying.

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Extroverted writers have an enormous advantage that way, because they don’t see any down-side to approaching strangers with a smile and a bookmark showing their book title and website.

But for those of us who are more introverted?
We need to do something else.

We need to write a killer blurb.

Your blurb is what does the heavy lifting when it comes to making people want your book.
Sure, great reviews help. Extroverted friends help. Industry contacts help.
What helps most of all, though, is a blurb that makes readers think “Hmm, this sounds like a book I’ll enjoy. I’m gonna order it right now.”

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What makes ’em say that?
Ask any ten readers, and you’ll get a lot of repeat answers. “Great plot.” “Dreamy hero.” “My favorite setting.” “I love that author.” (Yes, we all love that reader.)
But how does this reader know it’s a fabulous plot, dreamy hero, favorite setting and beloved author?
Oh, right. It’s in the blurb.

Or is it?

Well, it SHOULD be. At least some of the highlights of your book need to shine in the blurb, because that’s your one chance at convincing strangers they’re gonna love this story.

The tricky part is that not every reader is going to thrill to the same highlights. One might adore tortured heroes, while another goes for plucky heroines. Another automatically buys any story set on a ranch, while the next one goes for crime-ridden cities.

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Humor. Tension. Comfort. Sensuality. Danger. Love. History. Fantasy. Suspense. Your book might have all of those, or just a few, but either way your blurb needs to identify which items are going to appeal to the readers you most want.
Who are they?

Every reader in the known universe.

If we got to pick, we’d want everyone on Planet Earth lining up to read our books. Right?
Okay, maybe that’s a bit unrealistic. But at the same time, it’s easier to say “my book will appeal to everyone” than to do the nitty-gritty work of identifying my target market.

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That’s what advertising people do, right? Why should storytellers have to do that?
Well, actually we don’t have to. We can let our publisher handle the job.
But…

What if we want more exposure?

That’s where a great blurb — a blurb you’ve written yourself — comes in handy. Because it contains the magic ingredients of:
* A focus on your book’s target market
* Compelling “power words” and shoutlines
* Knowledge of your unique selling points
* Right blend of plot-character-setting-opening
* A preview of your style and your voice
* Hot-button triggers that readers respond to

You won’t need every single one of those elements in your blurb. (Although of course the length makes a difference, and you need to determine which length/s will be most effective for your promotion.)

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But of those elements you DO include, some deserve a lot more space than others. And of course, drat it, the proportions will be different for every book.

Which leads to:

A (prize drawing) question.

In the blurb for whatever book you’ll be marketing next, whether it’s already off to the publisher or still taking shape in your mind, what ONE element are you absolutely certain you want to include?

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Share it here. You might rouse the interest of readers who love that particular element, and even if those people aren’t reading blog today, you might also win free registration to the “Blurbing Your Book” class I’m teaching next month at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BookBlurb/info .

For every 25 people who post, I’ll draw a random-dot-org winner’s name and announce that tonight.
Meanwhile, it’ll be fun seeing what cool highlights we can look forward to in books available for sale very soon!

***

LaurieCampbellBio: Laurie Schnebly Campbell (BookLaurie.com) works in advertising, where her job is to convince buyers they’ll love a particular product. She’s spent years writing about products people might not think of buying, until they saw a message that makes ’em realize “yes, THIS is what I want!” She’s always pleased, but not surprised, when people who’ve taken this class report increased sales with their new and improved blurbs. To learn more about Laurie, visit her website.

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Discussion

98 Responses to “The Million-Dollar Apple by Laurie Schnebly Campbell”

  1. Hi Laurie. I suck at writing blurbs. I wish I could master blurb writing even before I start on my next book. Is that too much to ask for? Or does a blurb always have to be done after one has completed the book?

    Posted by Adite Banerjie | May 29, 2015, 1:00 am
    • Adite, it’s FINE to write the blurb before starting on the book — although it does help if you have an idea what the story will be about. 🙂

      And it can actually be a handy way of crystallizing and clarifying your ideas about the book before you sit down to write it, knowing that if the story DOES change during the actual writing you can always tweak the blurb to match.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 5:05 am
  2. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for the great post. The element I am stuck on including in my current blurb is a reference to steaming up the portholes on the heroine’s sailboat.

    Cheers,
    Lindsay

    Posted by Lindsay Larson | May 29, 2015, 4:12 am
    • Lindsay, my first thought was “technical details don’t need to go in a romance blurb” until I realized DUH, it’s a figure of speech! (And a cute one.)

      So I can see why it’s the one element you’re certain you want in the blurb; it’s just such fun. As a non-sailor, though, I’ve gotta ask: do sailboats have portholes that can steam up? And if other non-sailors get distracted by wondering the same thing, might there be something ELSE aboard a sailboat they could steam up?

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 5:08 am
  3. Hi Laurie,

    Very good, because that one think I’m not sure about this. The blurbs.

    What to take the make someone want to buy it. You could said anything about the book, but saying the right thing is another thing.

    Nadine hoping that one day, she will figure that out. 🙂

    Posted by Nadine Travers | May 29, 2015, 5:06 am
    • Nadine, you’re already on the right track knowing that the one thing you want to include is the magic element that’ll make people want the book — hard to argue with that!

      Try thinking of it another way: if this exact same story had been written by some author you’d never heard of, what would make YOU want to read the book?

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 5:12 am
  4. Hi Laurie,

    Don’t include me in your drawing as I’m already looking forward to this awesome class.

    I would say the one thing I wish I could always include but sometimes miss is that spark between the hero and heroine.

    🙂

    Posted by @Sherylkaleo | May 29, 2015, 6:27 am
    • Sheryl, good thought about including the hero-heroine spark! That’s sure a nice thing to see in a blurb, although sometimes the book cover conveys it equally well, but it’s harder to control your cover than it is your blurb.

      (Unless you have — or ARE — a truly gifted artist with the ability to get just the look you want, in which case everyone will want you to do their cover as well.)

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:00 am
  5. Blurb writing is hard!!! I want to try to include the inner conflict that the heroine has that makes a HEA with the hero so impossible, but not give away too much of the story by doing so. I think often my problem with blurbs is telling too much!

    Posted by Sally Clements | May 29, 2015, 6:32 am
    • Sally, you’re sure not alone in worrying about whether the blurbs tell too much — although with as many successful books as you’ve had, you’re clearly doing SOMETHING right.

      But for writers who are used to being able to show everything needed in the manuscript pages, it’s tough having to contend with such limited space. Sometimes it seems like it’d be easier to just write the book, doesn’t it?

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:03 am
  6. For me, irrespective of what story I am writing, I would have to say the one element I would always use is giving the reader a preview of my style and voice.

    Posted by Kalinya | May 29, 2015, 6:53 am
    • Kalinya, it’s wonderful when the blurb can give a preview of your style and voice. I remember a few times being sucked in by a blurb that gives a direct excerpt from Page 1 and loving it.

      Although that requires an incredibly good, clear and fascinating opening, which is why some writers use an excerpt from page 82 — even though that sometimes gives away a bit more than a blurb reader needs. Sigh…

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:09 am
  7. This took some thought because there are several things I want to get into my blurb, but I think I’ve finally narrowed it down. It’s my main protag’s overall problem – she’s fighting a battle and realizes that she’s on the wrong side, but is powerless to leave or quit. The problem is that explaining why she can’t leave or quit is kind of complex.

    Posted by Heather Jackson | May 29, 2015, 6:57 am
    • Heather, that’s the great thing about a blurb — in such a short preview of the book, you don’t HAVE to explain why she can’t leave or quit.

      In fact, that’s what’ll make the reader curious enough to open the cover or choose the Preview button. They’ll figure there has to be some intriguing reason, and want to know what it is!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:12 am
  8. Hi Laurie (waves from Maine)! The one element I want to come across in the blurb for my upcoming release is the humour. It’s a romantic suspense, but the heroine is kind of funny, and she tries not to take life too seriously, even when she’s kidnapped for the second time, hehe.

    Posted by Luanna Stewart | May 29, 2015, 7:29 am
    • Luanna, any story that wounds up with the heroine getting kidnapped a second time is definitely going to have its humorous moments, especially when she doesn’t take life too seriously.

      Which is a nice spin on romantic suspense, where people generally DO take things seriously — so your blurb will definitely stand out. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:13 am
  9. Blurbs are such a challenge 🙂

    I want to draw readers into another (paranormal) world and make them believe it can happen, and I want to convey the subtle humour in my story.

    This blurb might take me as long to craft as it did to write the book, lol.

    Good article, Laurie.

    Posted by Susanne | May 29, 2015, 7:32 am
  10. I think the most important element is the selling point – what is the key genre or target that will be your selling point. For example, small town, sexy, sports, etc

    Posted by Heidi U | May 29, 2015, 8:17 am
    • Heidi, good thought about targeting the reader who enjoys your book’s genre. And you’ve got a good advertising term in that description; the same marketing guru who created the Keebler Elves and Jolly Green Giant used to talk about “Unique Selling Points.”

      Things like small town, sexy and sports are GREAT selling points, even though they’re not unique, and it’s fun finding those that identify your book.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:24 am
  11. In my current book (releasing June 23rd) I want to include the conflict between H&H (her positive despite all the negatives she’s faced and his there’s no HEA in the cards for me) AND the spark that keeps pulling them together.

    Posted by Sandra | May 29, 2015, 8:34 am
    • Sandra, how exciting to have another book just a few weeks away from release — and the advantage of having several in a series is that you have an automatic audience of readers who liked the previous ones.

      Gotta love writing blurbs that’ll be read by people who already KNOW they want your book, along with the people who might not necessarily know that…yet.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:26 am
  12. Hi Laurie! I’m already enrolled in your class. Can’t wait for it to start. Though my next book will be released this Monday, June 1st, I SUCK at writing blurbs and always have an editor help me write one.
    For this book I wanted to not give away that there’s an HEA, but show that there’s tension ….and that it involves the kidnapping or running away of the main character’s wife and child. I want to leave the reader guessing.

    Posted by Patricia Yager Delagrange | May 29, 2015, 8:46 am
    • Patti, you’ve got a fun job ahead of you — writing a blurb that doesn’t reveal whether or not the reader can expect a happy ending will be tricky, because most readers are conditioned to expect either Happy Ending or Real-Life Disaster before they ever start reading.

      So it’ll be cool to keep ’em guessing which scenario applies here…and equally important to make the cover one that could convey either scenario equally plausibly.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:29 am
  13. What I really want to stress in the blurb next novel I’m writing is the setting and outside forces (Renaissance court intrigue) and the fun hook (Partridge in a Pear Tree…how it really unfolded).

    Posted by Amelia | May 29, 2015, 8:55 am
    • Amelia, those are both unique selling points, for sure! And you can appeal to two very different audiences, which means you might wind up running your blurb — or different versions of it — in settings where one factor will completely outweigh the other.

      It’s lucky that you can DO that, writing one version that plays up the Renaissance court intrigue and another that plays up the fascinating song history, because each one will appeal to readers who might not care about the other but will love the one that grabs ’em.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:33 am
  14. We dread coming up with blurbs for our stories, however, your class was a tremendous help in steering us in the right direction.

    Ceci – who just stopped by to say, hi. 😉

    Posted by Cecilia Aubrey | May 29, 2015, 9:03 am
  15. Hi Laurie!

    I’m currently tinkering with a family drama set on Mars. What I found with it is that people who generally don’t care for SciFi are still getting drawn in, and I believe it’s because of the character interactions. So I guess my answer is that I want my blurb to definitely mention “family.”

    Mae, who is looking forward to your retreat. 😉

    Posted by Mae South | May 29, 2015, 9:05 am
    • Mae, you’ve got a fascinating idea there — it’ll be fun hearing how it all goes together.

      And you’re right in recognizing that since non SciFi readers are responding to the family theme, while it certainly won’t bother SciFi readers, that’s a key element to include in your blurb. From Maine to Mars, family dramas are all alike…

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:36 am
  16. I want to transport my readers to a time in history when ladies rode side saddle and decisions made over teacups could change history, or at least my heroine’s future.

    Posted by Helena Korin | May 29, 2015, 9:09 am
    • Helena, that’s a wonderful mission — your readers will love getting a glimpse of where they’ll be transported.

      So it’ll make sense for your blurb to reflect a few of the most vivid details, even if they’re not a major part in the story. For instance, even if your heroine rarely drinks tea, the image of “decisions made over teacups” is definitely worth including!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 12:37 pm
  17. Hi Laura – Boy do I need your class! I am supposed to create a log line as now my book is a screenplay. ack that’s one sentence! Here is what I have so far: Twins, Aly and Rocket use a magical orb to open and enter a portal between Earth and the magical realm of Xandria – the homeland of their father and his family.

    Posted by cheryl rae | May 29, 2015, 9:12 am
    • Cheryl, anytime novelists are tempted to gripe about the short word-count of a blurb, we should give thanks that at least it’s longer than a log-line…

      …and the book cover does part of the work, like showing whether the twins are 10 years old or 20 years old. Unless screenplays DO occasionally get to use an illustration on the cover, which would sure make life easier.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 12:42 pm
  18. Hi, Laurie. *waves* The one element I’ve love to learn how to get into my blurb is a preview of my style and voice.
    I’m looking forward to this class.

    Posted by Stephanie Berget | May 29, 2015, 9:53 am
    • Steph, your stories have a very strong style and voice already, so it makes perfect sense that you want your blurbs to reflect that.

      Part of it, though, is the story situation — not JUST the words you choose to tell it. So you get automatic credit for style just by having picked the stories you do!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 12:46 pm
    • Hey Steph, what fun finding someone I KNOW in this comments feed. Great that you will be one of my classmates, too!

      Posted by Elaine Bedigian | May 30, 2015, 1:06 pm
  19. Laurie, great post! I guess for the story I’m working on now, The Sheriff’s Little Matchmaker, I’d like readers to get a feel for my voice and the characters.

    Posted by Carol Opalinski | May 29, 2015, 10:41 am
    • Carol, right off the bat your title gives a good idea of the book’s flavor — it’s easy to envision the kind of story readers will be getting, and they’ll appreciate the familiarity at the same time they enjoy seeing what’s different about YOUR characters.

      Which already reflect your voice, so part of your job is done in advance…whew. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 12:52 pm
  20. Great post, Laurie…(waves from Laughlin). While I’m nowhere near starting to write my blurb I think the one element in mine would be the (im)possibility of the hero and heroine getting together while conjuring up angst, steam, intrigue, etc..

    Posted by Marcia | May 29, 2015, 10:51 am
    • Marcia, I like your twist on the (im)possibility of them getting together — even though readers will probably suspect there’s a happy ending ahead, they’ll enjoy knowing there’s gonna be all kinds of turmoil along the way.

      What kind of turmoil? Your blurb can sure hint at that, but there’s no need to do into great detail yet…let ’em read the book to find out!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:06 pm
  21. I just sold a book to a new publisher and need to write the blurb for it, so this timing is perfect for me. 🙂

    The easy focus for my story is superheroes. The personal element is that my heroine doesn’t feel that her abilities make her super enough to help save the world. I think that’s the part that will make her most relatable. Maybe. Not sure. Which is why I need the class! LOL

    Posted by Natalie J. Damschroder | May 29, 2015, 11:29 am
    • Natalie, congratulations on your new-publisher sale — that IS amazing timing.

      And a superhero with personal doubts is a cool concept; that’s what made Pixar’s “The Incredibles” such a great movie. Which doesn’t mean you need to reference the movie in your blurb, but it’s nice knowing there’s already a proven audience for stories like yours.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:09 pm
  22. My blurb would emphasize humor and adventure–and I have a particular fondness for “fish out of water” tropes, so whatever trope I’d be building my blurb on, I’d make the trope clear, because readers love tropes. Whether it’s “friends to lovers”, “second chances”, “marriage of convenience”, et al–we love a trope and want to see how this reader will deliver on it.

    Posted by Fran Colley | May 29, 2015, 11:43 am
    • Fran, it’s hard to imagine a better trope for humor and adventure than “fish out of water” — even though there ARE other ways that story could unfold, it’ll be an easy way of conveying what stands out about yours.

      And it sounds like this is a book in progress rather than one that’s already completed, so you can enjoy thinking about the blurb even while you’re writing the story!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:11 pm
  23. The focus is love in the future – as in other planets and spaceships, but always with romance involved.

    I’m awful with blurbs and can really use this class.

    Posted by Vicky Burkholder | May 29, 2015, 11:44 am
    • Vicky, I remember my husband complaining back in the 1980s that most books involving other planets and spaceships didn’t live up to their covers…he was griping that whoever created the descriptions probably hadn’t read the book.

      So by doing your own, you’re gonna be WAY ahead of all those 1980s writers who had to depend on people for whom reading the book was an easy-to-skip job; you’ve got a major advantage going in. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:14 pm
  24. Hi Laurie! I’m almost finished the first book in a series and am starting to think about the blurb. I did labor over a logline when I first started the book, but haven’t yet tried to put together a blurb. I think the element I want to include and finding the most difficult is making the hero look delectable to the reader. The circumstances in the opening are funny, and set up the story, but I’m not sure that they show the hero in the best light. Great timing on this post! It gave me some things to consider. Thanks!

    Posted by Laurie Logan | May 29, 2015, 11:50 am
    • Laurie, isn’t it wonderful when timing lines up just right?

      The fact that you’ve already labored over a logline is great because it shows you’re used to thinking like a marketer as well as a storyteller. And I suspect you’ve already spotted that what makes it tough to show the reader “delectable hero” is that everyone has SUCH different definitions of what makes a hero yummy!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:16 pm
  25. Hi Laurie, I love writing blurbs, but then again I took your class on how to do it right. I always think about if I were riding on an elevator with the one person who could catapult my book to success, how could I sum it up in those few seconds? What is the core of my story? What makes it grab you/me? Then I try making it sound like a movie teaser. Somewhere between the two techniques, I usually get something I’m pretty proud of, even if it’s just for me. But, then again I now tend to write the blurb shortly after I get a story idea and use it as a rough outline/guide. I’m just odd like that 😉

    Posted by Margie Hall | May 29, 2015, 11:55 am
    • Margie, writing the blurb up front is a very handy way of staying on track!

      I know not every writer likes doing the blurb first, which is fine because we all have a best-for-us style, but it’s sure convenient when you can get two jobs done at the same time.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:19 pm
  26. Time Travel comes to mind. But then all those other details want to be included! As your post pointed out, you just can’t include everything. 🙁
    So I need your class.

    Posted by Gerri Bowen | May 29, 2015, 12:22 pm
    • Gerri, what’s great about time travel is that just those two words convey so MUCH information.

      Sure, there’ll be plenty of other fabulous details, but you’ve got extra words available for showing the best of ’em just because you can sum up a whole lot of the conflict and setting in only two words. (Whew.)

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:22 pm
  27. I tend to write tortured heroes and heroines using a light-hearted style. I like to show that it’s possible to overcome a difficult past and still maintain a sense of humor. Not quite sure how that would translate to a blurb, tbough.

    Posted by Lee C | May 29, 2015, 12:22 pm
    • Lee, it’s always cool to create a blurb that’ll leave readers feeling inspired even before they open the book.

      Given your light-hearted style, I’m thinking you could set people up for a fun surprise along the lines of “Jason has lost both parents, a college scholarship, his right arm and his job at McDonald’s…but not his sense of humor.” Or whatever good/bad contrasts would provide some intrigue.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 1:30 pm
  28. Hi Laurie,

    I loved your blog. I need to figure out how to convey the carefree nature of my heroine and the uptight nature of the hero along with the explosive chemistry they create in the bedroom. I’d like to do this with out sounding like a cliche.

    Posted by Sunni | May 29, 2015, 12:25 pm
    • Sunni, you’ve got a classic premise there. And while there’s always the worry of it sounding cliched, it’s a classic for a reason — readers LOVE it.

      So if you can give how these two are just slightly different from the other favorite couples who’ve also seen carefree/uptight personalities explode in bed, that’ll be great…but not essential, because the premise practically sells itself to all those readers who love it.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 2:03 pm
  29. Hi Laurie, The element I’d be sure to include would be a good strong external hook.That’s the one thing that pushes me to buy a book from an unknown author. If the initial opening idea is intriguing I can’t wait to find out more. (I love the idea of writing the blurb before the book is written. I could fix it up next to my computer and use it to keep me on track as I plan and write the story)

    Posted by Janet Ch. | May 29, 2015, 12:34 pm
    • Janet, I like your observation that an unknown author has much better odds of getting bought if the opening idea is intriguing.

      And because so many different readers are intrigued by so many different ideas, it’s crucial to know which readers are the type who’ll absolutely love the external hook in YOUR book!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 2:06 pm
  30. Hi Laurie,

    I try to come up with a tag line or ‘elevator pitch’ while I’m turning the story in my head and from that I scratch out a blurb, which always changes as the story develops, but it gives me a place marker or point of reference.

    I’m partial to book blurbs that give me a hint about the protagonist’s character because I like character-driven stories. I have say that it’s really disappointing when a book doesn’t live up to its blurb.

    It’s always great to have you here!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | May 29, 2015, 12:47 pm
    • Jennifer, isn’t it awful when the blurb doesn’t reflect the book? I’ve heard horror stories from authors who didn’t get to write their own blurb and were appalled at what the publisher’s marketing team did with it.

      It’s lucky that even those of us who write for publishers with marketing teams in charge of the blurb can still put whatever blurb we want on our own website, blog posts, siglines and so on — because that way we can make sure it WORKS. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 2:09 pm
  31. Hm… One element? Well, the thing I’m enjoying most about my current thought-project[1] is the setting. Problem is, I’m not sure I could really create a hook based just on the setting; “human magic is barely sufficient, and there are dark and horrible things out there” could be part of an interesting story, but I don’t think it’s enough by itself.

    So I think I’d have to go with a rendition of what I’ve heard described as The Magician’s Journey (as opposed to The Hero’s Journey): it’s a story about someone who’s just discovered that he has power — real power, well-beyond-human-magic power — and has to figure out how he wants to use it.

    I keep thinking of a line from Roger Zelazny: “I’m writing a philosophical romance, shot through with elements of horror and morbidity.”

    [1] I’d love for it to be a writing project. I’d love to have time for a writing project.

    Posted by Michael Mock | May 29, 2015, 1:56 pm
    • Michael, here’s wishing you time to write that project — or, heck, ANY project!

      Using the theme of The Magician’s Journey could be a nice starting point, and it’s easy to imagine readers responding to that premise. Sure would be nice if you could borrow Roger Zelazny’s line for your cover, wouldn’t it?

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 2:12 pm
      • I could probably squeeze it in as one of those “quotes just before the title page” bits. Is there a technical term for that?

        ::Googles::

        Epigraphs. Apparently they’re called epigraphs. And in that case, I’d get to add another one (though I don’t know where it originated): “Either you die a hero… or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

        …And apparently that one comes from The Dark Knight Rises.

        Posted by Michael Mock | May 29, 2015, 2:43 pm
  32. I’m still working on my blurb, but here’s a WIP:

    Succubus are hell on relationships. Just when Carmen and Remiel think they got themselves moving forward with their relationship, the Queen of Succubi throws a wrench in it.

    Posted by Teresa Lopez | May 29, 2015, 2:19 pm
    • Teresa, you’ve clearly got the one biggest element represented there — it’s succubi!

      And you’ve also got me curious what Carmen and Remiel are doing together if she’s a succubus, which is good because your blurb absolutely SHOULD make readers think “I’ve gotta get this book and find out.”

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 2:43 pm
  33. Hi Laurie,

    Perfect timing! This blog post was exactly the pep talk I needed. I’ve taken a break from writing and promo for a bit and now I need to get back into it!

    Posted by Haley Whitehall | May 29, 2015, 3:15 pm
  34. I would say I would definitely want to include the tone of the book whether it’s comedy or horror etc.

    I just wrote a 200 word blurb for a contest I entered and it was much harder than I anticipated. In fact, I stunk at it! I think your class could be just what I need.

    Posted by Lindy Dierks | May 29, 2015, 3:56 pm
    • Lindy, good observation on how important it is to include the tone of the book — sometimes that’s taken care of by where the book is listed for sale and/or by the cover, but in something like a contest blurb it’s essential.

      If you DO wind up in the class, which of course I hope you will, you’ll be among writers who’ve published multiple books and writers just starting out, because creating blurbs is a totally different skill from creating books!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 4:30 pm
  35. Hi Laurie,

    Thank you so much for crafting this post. Like many of us here, I struggle with blurbs.

    Do you have any particular advice for multiple POV novels like mine? I have a main plot of course, and many sub-plots intertwined with the main plot but am afraid that however much time I spend on my blurb, it will never encompass the complexity of the story…
    Either way, I am bookmarking this for future references so thank you!

    Posted by Elissaveta | May 29, 2015, 4:13 pm
    • Elissaveta, you’re absolutely right in thinking no blurb can encompass the complexity of your story — and that’s what makes so many writers think “shoot, I’ll never be able to do this.”

      But most writers start out thinking that about novels as well, which is why finishing the first book is such a triumph. A good blurb, even though it WON’T reflect the entire book, will be equally satisfying…and in fact, it’ll probably be read by even more people!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 4:36 pm
  36. Laurie, as you know, I am knew to all of this. I’ve never written a blurb, unless you count the creative copy I always end up writing for my day job. If I can do it for a clothing brand, why not for myself? I sometimes fear that I will actually be better at writing the blurb than the book! When I read a blurb, I’m looking for a strong character I can latch onto. I often read for pleasure as an escape. I want to know from that blurb that I can escape into the story. To be honest, if the blurb piques my interest, I then read the first few pages as a test. If I want to know more, I buy it. For me, the blurb has to make me want to open the front cover and get lost inside the pages.

    Posted by Morgan Davis | May 29, 2015, 4:23 pm
    • Morgan, using the same skills you use for your day job will make writing blurbs a WHOLE lot easier. Heck, at least ONE part of the business should be easy, right?

      And your observation that readers are likely to want a few pages before making their decision takes off some of the pressure to make the blurb a complete sales pitch in and of itself. Which is good to remember if you start worrying about “can I do this?”

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 4:39 pm
  37. I’ve got a blurb for my kids’ time travel book (pubbed last summer so it’d BETTER have a blurb!), but I still don’t know if it hits all the buttons.

    From the list in your post, and with children’s books in mind, my must-have ingredient would be “Hot-button triggers that readers respond to.” ‘Cuz if kids don’t respond, I don’t have any readers!

    Posted by Jennifer Jensen | May 29, 2015, 4:45 pm
    • Jen, you’ve got TWO audiences to generate responses from — not only the kids, but the adults who buy books for ’em. Parents, sure, but also relatives who don’t necessarily know the kids’ tastes and even teachers or librarians or people who want entertainment for children visiting their business.

      Which is good, because it gives you an extra chance at attracting interest…the more potential targets, the better!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 5:36 pm
  38. Got only one nailed down so far, but I know there should be others… In my case, I’d show the diverse, major character change my MCs will each experience. Am hoping to pick up on whatever else I need to include from your upcoming workshop.
    Always anxious to learn.

    Posted by Elaine Bedigian | May 29, 2015, 5:54 pm
  39. Elaine, you might’ve done part of the first homework assignment already! Or, wait, maybe it’s the second or third…but the fact that you’re thinking about what readers who want YOUR type of book enjoy is a Very Good Thing.

    And, yep, it’s a safe bet you’ll pick up on whatever else you need by the end of June. 🙂

    Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 6:11 pm
  40. Hi, Laurie,
    Catostrophic loss of her twins and spouse, keeps my heroine isolated from life and trusting the first man she has been attracted to since her spouse’s death.

    Writing this helped me to see another area to focus on when I explain my story..
    Joyce Myers

    Posted by Joyce Myers | May 29, 2015, 9:17 pm
    • Joyce, you’ve got a great head start on your blurb — good for you on finding another area you want to focus on!

      It’s amazing how much useful stuff can come out of pondering some key questions, and I love seeing that happen right here on the screen.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:46 pm
  41. Thanks to everybody who’s been posting their One Certain Thing to include — there’s not a bad choice in the bunch; it’s fun seeing how blurbs can take shape in so many different ways.

    I’m embarrassed at falling asleep long before the end of the blog day, but (okay, this is even MORE embarrassing) I was so excited about getting started this morning that I got up at 3am.

    Which wasn’t very good planning, come to think of it.

    Anyway, I’d feel awful about missing any posts before the prize-drawing…so far there’ve been 40 people, and if by some amazing chance another 10 come in there’ll be TWO free-class giveaways.

    Either way, the winner will be announced tomorrow — and meanwhile, here’s wishing all of you a lovely weekend!

    Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 29, 2015, 9:57 pm
  42. Hi Laurie,

    Blurbs are sooo hard!!

    I write romantic suspense so I know that in order to target the widest range of readers for this genre I need to at least hint at the conflict that will be an integral part of the story.

    Thanks for all that you do, your classes are always inspiring,
    Jacquie Biggar

    Posted by Jacquie Biggar | May 29, 2015, 9:59 pm
    • Jacquie, good point about hinting at the conflict — you’re right, that’s pretty much an essential for romantic suspense, and it can be hard to convey the specifics in cover art.

      We can sure get the idea that there IS conflict, but what kind will it be? That’s where, as people tell toddlers, it’s important to “use your words.” (Which I’ll use to say thanks for the shout-out!)

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 30, 2015, 9:12 am
  43. What a fabulous post, Laurie!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 29, 2015, 11:41 pm
  44. AND THE WINNER IS…

    #29, says random-dot-org, which means free registration to “Blurbing Your Book” ( https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BookBlurb/info ) for Sunni!

    Congratulations, and send your email address to
    BookBlurb-subscribe @ yahoogroups.com so we can get you on board before the Monday kickoff.

    Laurie, looking forward to seeing a lot of you writers from THIS page over THERE!

    Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 30, 2015, 9:17 am
  45. the next book I’m going to be releasing is a craft guide on writing for children, so I want to appeal to beginners and even people who have only sort of thought about writing for kids, in a way that won’t be intimidating, but not turn off more advanced writers.

    Posted by Kris Bock | May 30, 2015, 7:43 pm
    • Kris, you’ve got a wide-ranging target market there, so you’ll want a blurb that appeals equally to people who’ve already decided they want to write for children and people who aren’t quite sure.

      But knowing that, going in, you’ll be able to focus on the elements that’ll reach both those audiences. Here’s hoping they love it!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 30, 2015, 11:36 pm

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