Attracting Readers by Good Blurb Writing

The main parts of attracting readers to my fiction eBooks include an attractive cover, great title, clearly enticing blurb, low cost and perfectly edited sample.

If all these variables are good enough to attract each reader then the odds are stacked in my favour of their purchasing my story, and hopefully, if I have written a well crafted story, they will write a review to attract other readers.

I have covered creating covers in previous blogs, and as I practice creating more covers, I hope to improve.

I try to decide on a title while plotting the novel, but, often the title changes as I complete the story, because I tend to learn more of what the story is about as I actually write each chapter, and alter the plot as I write.

I have discussed learning how to edit, both the plot and the sentence structure in previous blogs and found many good books already on the market that will guide you through editing. The best course for editing plot and structure is Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel course and when that course is available as eBook lessons, I recommend every writer purchase and work through the lessons.

I think if the other variables are powerful enough then the cost will not matter. Also, with the ability to change the cost at any time, it is not a problem. Just change, and watch the number of purchases increase or decrease, then alter accordingly.

Writing great blurbs that attract readers is an entirely different exercise then completing a work of fiction.

Dean Wesley Smith wrote a blog post on Blurbs. I recommend every one read it. Also read the comments because I learnt quite a lot from them. All good advice. There were also links in the comments that I skimmed through, so spend your time looking at them as well. Thank of it as a University subject and the research will help you achieve a good grade.

So, this is what I learnt.

  •     Writing copy is different to writing fiction. Yes, I know that.
  •     Know the voice of the Genre and Sub Genre
  •     Work out the launching point of the story, that is the hook.
  •     Offer a short promise of what is to come in the story
  •     Leave the potential reader hanging. Do not give out the whole plot and the ending. If they know the ending, they will not need to read the story.
  •     Write active, not passive verbs.
  •     Keep the whole blurb under 250 words.

Learn what active and passive is. Here is a good site that explains the difference clearly.

Look at bestseller blurbs in the genre you write. Work out their formula for blurbs.

So far, I worked out the following from published Science Fiction stories I purchased.

List the main character in normal life (physical or political condition at the start of the story)
Next state the problem (main character’s need to take action)
Then list the obstacles the main character has to face (usually the antagonist)
Last list what is at stake.

These three or four paragraphs should explain who, what, where, how and why without giving away the whole plot and ending.

Remember to keep them guessing.

Let’s revisit my blurb for Broken Faith.

When empathic gene engineer, Keeper Sonja discovers she was unknowingly impregnated with the first talented embryo she created, she is determined to abort, until she realises the fifteen-week-old embryo is already self-aware and mind speaking to her, leaving her only one option: flee the complex to protect him from testing and termination.

Pilot Jim Clark is happy to navigate his small search craft around each planet in the neighbouring solar systems, searching for the aliens that attacked and destroyed his father’s spaceship. He flies into an energy field on the next promising planet, and crashes his craft.

Breakdown of the sentences of the blurb.

I opened with Sonja’s problem, and her decision to solve her problem. This story could be set anywhere, and does not tell me it is science fiction. In fact, stating Sonja was empathic is telling prospective readers that it is paranormal, not science fiction.

I introduced Jim in the second paragraph, but he is not the antagonist.

I omitted telling what was at stake for Sonja.

My next attempt at a blurb for Broken Faith..

When shy, empathic Sonja is offered a position in the Keeper complex to train in gene engineering using alien technology, she jumped at the chance to leave her fishing village and the hard work of eking out an existence from the sea and marshes.

She ignores the tall silent Jlaantei guarding the complex, and learns to hide her thoughts from the thought reading Elemental in charge of the complex, while excelling at manipulating genes, and discovers the Elemental’s plan of breeding a group of psychic humans as companions to the Elementals.

But when Keeper Sonja discovers she is unknowingly impregnated with the first talented human embryo she created, she is determined to abort, until she realises the fifteen-week-old embryo is already self-aware and mind speaking to her. She is left with only one option: flee the complex to protect him from testing and termination.

If she is caught and returned, she will be killed for disobedience and the babe will still be tested, and when they discover how strong he is he will be terminated, but if she can say hidden until the babe’s birth, she can leave him with a human family. After that she does not care if she is returned to her village or killed for disobedience.

I decided to leave John out of the blurb. Why? Because he is not the antagonist, just one more reason Sonja is slowed down while escaping. And of course, he does help her in her attempt for freedom but that is a give away of the plot.

What do you think? Has the blurb improved from the first attempt?

It does not give away a lot of the plot, but I think it does raise questions as to whether Sonja succeeds or not.

2 comments so far

  1. curiocat on

    Hey, Diane. I haven’t read the post by DWS yet. I will do that. Thanks for your reminder. 🙂

    Aren’t blurbs very similar to The Sentence? In expanded form of course. I think the same questions can be asked about the blurb that can be when writing your sentence.

    Your blurb definitely catches my attention and makes me want more.

    • D J Mills on

      Thanks for the feedback. I hope to change my Broken Faith blurb on the sites this weekend and see if sales pick up any. 🙂

      No, in the comments on DSW article, it is explained it is more than the Sentence. When you get time to read the article, read the comments because of good suggestions on how to write blurbs from people who get paid to write blurbs for publishers.

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