12 Surefire Tips on Writing Great Marketing Copy - Book Blurb 101

May 15, 2022 No comments

If you plan to self-publish, it’s crucial to know how to create an appealing blurb for your book—one that’s compelling enough to entice a reader into buying your novel. 

Blurbs (or called back jacket copy or marketing copy) are used in the back jacket copy of paperback novels and on the book's product page. Basically, it is the beguiling description of your novel used to entice readers into, well, reading your work.

This is marketing copy, not a synopsis. Keep it brief. Keep it interesting. Keep it engaging. Don’t bog it down with too many details about the plot or subplot. Use persuasive and strong nouns, adverbs, and verbs to describe your novel. (If you're querying an agent or publisher, then you need to slightly restructure your pitch, but it is basically the same method described in this post. And in your synopsis, I suggest that writers clearly define every plot point and reveal the ending.)

A book blurb is supposed to be about 200 words or less. Sure, I have read some that were as long as 300 words, but a writer only has a few seconds to attract a potential reader. Length matters. So “short and sweet” is usually best when writing marketing copy. Learn to trim down until only the story's heart remains.

Strive for quality—not quantity. Superb back jacket copy never explains every characters background, every plot twist, or pinch-point of your storyline. Write a blurb that is descriptive, but not all-inclusive. Think tempting, but not embellished. 

Professional copywriters know that effective promotional copy harmonizes with a storyline and doesn’t exaggerate or minimize what readers will find inside. 

Don’t assault the reader with a dense block of text. White space is your friend even in blurb writing. Remember that readers usually skim the text unless it's so gripping that they don't bother finishing it because they're already clicking the "buy button."

One way to get a better understanding of good promotional copy is to read the blurbs of other published novels in your genre. Visit a library, bookstore, or search online at places like Goodreads to read blurbs. Whenever you find a blurb that really grabs your attention, see if it gives you some ideas for your own book description. 

Once you have a few blurbs written down that you like, find a critique partner to help you polish it. Or ask a friend or writing buddy, who’s familiar with your premise, and have them write a brief summary of your novel, noting the detailed plot points they enjoyed. This is an excellent way to gain an invaluable assessment of your storyline.

Another excellent way to help you write a blurb is to excerpt your own work. Try this, comb through your entire manuscript searching for paragraphs or phrases to quote. This method can be very effective if you find a strong passage that can be taken out of context and still make sense. 

If you’re trying to summarize your work into 200 enticing words, I suggest reading the marketing copy of other work. Start reading a ton of book jackets, video game summaries, and DVD boxes. If you’re writing creepy horror, it helps to read the blurbs of scary stories. Study book blurbs, video game cases, and DVD boxes in the genre that you're writing, then mimic. It will help inspire you because the blurb (marketing copy) is meant to entice readers. 

Keep this mind while drafting the blurb, "Conflict is the fuel that excites most readers.
I spend a lot of time revising and tweaking my own blurbs. I go over and over them until my head hurts. Writing a good blurb with a great “hook” isn’t easy, but it is essential to a self-published author if they want readers to take a chance with their time and money on their book. It is important to create a blurb so amazing and catchy that who wouldn’t want to read this story?


1) Strive to keep each paragraph at 50 words or less. 

2) The tagline should be one or two short sentences and try to keep it under 15 words

3) The total word count (not counting the tagline) should be 200 words or less.

4) The initial GMC should be mentioned in the blurb.

5) As long as each subject is mentioned in the blurb, it can be placed anywhere. Depending on the genre, for example the external goal can be mentioned in the third paragraph or the setting can be stated in the tagline. 

6) The "hook" at the end should be enticing enough to lure the reader into wanting to find out more by either buying the book or reading the excerpt. (or both!)

7) All great plots need some conflict and tension. Make sure you include hints at those in the blurb. 

8) Powerful verbs and nouns should be used. Make every word count by choosing each one carefully.

9) It is okay to use cliches that reflect the genre or tropes that will resonate with readers. 

10) Study other blurbs in the genre that your book is written in to gain insight into revising your own marketing copy.

11) Always use a character's full name (first and last) when first mentioned in the blurb. 

12) Characters need human flaws, a weakness to make them realistic and cause the reader to feel empathy. Try to add a hint at the characters "fatal flaw" or character ARC within the blurb to create likability, too.

Still stuck? Read, "Gotta Read It!: Five Simple Steps to a Fiction Pitch that Sells" on writing book descriptions / book blurbs for more great tips.

Please read these awesome posts on writing a better blurb, which should really help as you revise your own with a more successful “hook”:

How long does it take you to write a book blurb? What methods do you use to create a strong "hook"? 

If you have questions, or need further help, please leave a comment.