7 Simple Blurb-Writing Tips to Attract Your Target Readers

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How to Craft a Blurb that Sells Your Novel for You

Blurbs are hard. But they’re also an essential part of your marketing strategy, so it’s important to get them right.

First-time authors often get overwhelmed by the blurb-writing process, and even experienced novelists sometimes struggle with them.

Not to mention the numerous and varied opinions you ask people for feedback. It can be difficult to figure out what’s going wrong or how to fix it.

The most challenging part is knowing what to focus on.

So today I’m giving you 7 tips to craft a blurb that grabs the attention of your target readers and sells your book for you.

First, Some Basics of Blurb Writing

100-200 words is usually a good length for the blurb on the back of your book.

You could use the same one in your online marketing, for example in an Amazon listing or on your website, or you could make a slightly longer version. The advantage of something longer is that it gives you more space provide extra information about the story and convince readers to buy the book.

Most blurbs start by introducing the main character. Since blurbs are so short, it’s ideal to focus on just one or two characters.

With fewer characters, you can spend more time talking about each one. One character prospective readers can connect with is more compelling than a larger number of characters they know almost nothing about.

Some books tell the story of a world rather than focusing on one specific character or group of characters. For these novels, you may find it useful to briefly set the scene prior to introducing your main character(s).

A Simplified Blurb Formula

Most book blurbs do the following, not necessarily in this order:

  • Introduce the main character
  • Establish the genre
  • Set up the central conflict
  • Leave audiences wanting to know what happens



Blurb-Writing Tip #1: Introduce a Main Character Readers Will Love

If someone buys your book, they’re going to be spending a lot of time with your main character. The blurb is your chance to convince prospective readers that this character is someone they want to spend time with.

So you’ll want to introduce that character in a way that helps prospective readers like them and related to them.

People love reading books about characters they relate to. When a prospective reader relates to the character you’re describing in your blurb, they’re more likely to buy your book.

Represent Your Characters Accurately

Make sure that the way you’re representing the main character(s) in the blurb reflects the way they come across in the novel.

If you accidentally misrepresent the character, you’ll be attracting the wrong readers. You’ll also be setting incorrect expectations for who that character will be in the story, which is likely to confuse readers and make it harder for them to stay fully absorbed in the story.

Your goal to figure out which attributes of this main character are most important to feature in the limited space of a 200-word blurb.

Blurb-Writing Tip #2: Establish the Genre and Set Expectations

The purpose of your blurb isn’t just to sell the book. It’s to attract the type of readers who are most likely to enjoy reading your novel.

Prospective readers need to know what kind of book they’re getting into. If someone is likely to love the book, you want them to buy it. If they’re more likely to dislike it, you want them to move on to something else.

Most readers read some genres and not others. Even within genres, some readers know they enjoy certain sub-genres more than others. So establishing the genre and sub-genre in a clear way will help your blurb attract the right people.

If your novel fits in two or more different genres, try to bring elements of both into your blurb.

How to Clearly Establish Genre in Your Blurb

Establishing your genre is easy once you know how to do it.

The following are some examples of what to focus on when establishing different genres in your blurb:

Establishing Genre for Romance Blurbs

If you’ve written a romance novel, focus the blurb on the relationship between the two main characters. That’s what romance novels are about, so that’s what you focus on in the blurb.

If it’s historical romance, show readers when it takes place. If it’s a romantic comedy, try to convey the comedic aspect. You get the idea.

Establishing Genre for Fantasy Blurbs

If you’re writing a blurb for a fantasy novel, make sure you’re showing readers what your fantasy world looks like and how it makes your characters’ lives different from the lives of people in the real world.

For epic fantasy, make it clear what type of world readers will be transported into and what larger events are taking place there.

For urban fantasy, make it clear that readers will still be in the real world, just a different version of it, and show readers what kind of magic or supernatural elements will be present.

Establishing Multiple Genres in Your Blurb

It’s possible that your novel is a good fit for two different genres.

For example, in fantasy romance it’s important to emphasize the romance elements of the story while also showing that it takes place in a fantasy world. (Or for paranormal romance, that it takes place in an alternate version of the real world.)

But if it’s just fantasy with a romance sub-plot, don’t make it sound like fantasy romance. Focus on emphasizing the fantasy elements and other aspects of the story, and only mention the romance briefly, if at all.

Blurb-Writing Tip #3: Don’t Misrepresent Your Genre

When your blurb makes your novel sound like a genre it doesn’t actually fit well in, you won’t be attracting your target readership.

This is especially important when a novel breaks any of the main reader expectations for a certain genre. For example, a book about romance that doesn’t have a happy ending. Some books like this are miscategorized as romance when they should be women’s fiction or something else.

It’s important to label the book with the right genre terminology, and it’s equally important to write the blurb in a way that makes it sound like the genre that it is.

If your women’s fiction novel features romance but is focused on the main character’s personal growth, make sure your blurb doesn’t make it sound too much like a romance novel. If it does, it might attract romance readers who start reading your book with the wrong expectations.

Blurb-Writing Tip #4: Set Expectations Beyond Genre

Besides the genre, consider what other aspects of your book to highlight in your blurb. What will help readers know what to expect?

For example, if your novel contains a significant amount of violence, find a way to convey that in your blurb so that readers who hate reading violent scenes will know that this book isn’t for them.

If the tone of your novel is light and funny, see if you can get that to come across in the blurb. If it’s dark and sad, show that. You want the people buying your book to be people who are most likely to enjoy it.

Blurb-Writing Tip #5: Focus on the Conflict

Conflict is the core of your plot and your story. It makes the story interesting and drives the plot.

It’s one of the things that gets readers to keep reading, because they want to know what’s going to happen and how the conflict will be resolved.

As you were writing and editing your novel, you probably spent time thinking about conflict: whether there was enough to drive the story, whether it was believable, whether it was resolved in a way that felt conclusive, and much more.

Conflict is a large part of what makes your novel compelling, and this means that it’s one of the most important things to emphasize in your blurb.

A good blurb sets up the central conflict and shows readers that the story is interesting and likely to be worth their time and money.

Give Readers Specifics

Your blurb also tells readers what kind of conflict your story revolves around. This will help them decide whether it’s the type of book they would enjoy, and hopefully it will get them curious.

Showing readers how your main character is responding to the conflict, and conveying their internal goals and motivations, will be beneficial as well.

It’s important to explain the conflict in enough detail that prospective readers will be drawn in and want to know what happens.

Blurb-Writing Tip #6: Know Your Target Audience

The better you know your audience, the easier it will be to craft a blurb that appeals specifically to them.

If you haven’t done so yet, spend some time thinking about who your book is written for and who has the most potential to enjoy it.

Think about what they like and dislike. Emphasize the aspects of your story and characters that are most likely to interest the types of people you’re trying to attract.

If you aren’t sure who your target readers are, remember that the people with the most potential to enjoy your books are often the people who are most like you.

Blurb-Writing Tip #7: Don’t Attract the Wrong Readers

This is one of the most important principles of marketing your books in general, and it’s especially true for your blurb.

If your blurb attracts people who don’t like your genre, or aren’t currently in the mood for the specific story you’re telling, you may encounter a few negative results that you really don’t want.

Readers who may have otherwise enjoyed your book may be confused that it wasn’t what they expected, which will pull them out of the perfectly crafted story you spent so much time writing for them.

Some readers will dislike your book. Instead of readers who enthusiastically share your books to everyone they know, you’ll have readers who don’t even finish the story, or even worse, people who actively complain about how much they didn’t like it.

You’ll probably have readers who leave bad reviews that could dissuade the people who will love your book from purchasing it in the first place.

Recap: How to Write a Blurb that Sells Your Story

  • Introduce your main character(s) in a way that makes prospective readers want to hear more about them.
  • Clearly establish the genre so that prospective readers will know what kind of book they’re buying.
  • Make sure you aren’t misrepresenting your novel by making it sound like a genre it’s not.
  • Set any other relevant expectations to ensure that you’re attracting the right audience.
  • Present the central conflict in a way that grabs readers’ attention and makes them want to know how everything unfolds.
  • Know your target audience. Check that everything about your blurb is crafted to appeal specifically to them.
  • Make sure you’re only attracting the right readers, and not the wrong ones.

If you’re at the blurb-writing stage, now is the time to be putting extra effort into marketing as a whole. Check out my article on getting started with book marketing to learn some tips on promoting your book without overwhelm. I also include some easy action steps that you can use to get started today.

Still Feeling Stuck?

If you’d like some hands-on individualized help for your blurb, check out my blurb editing service to see if it’s a good fit for you. I specialize in fantasy and romance novels but also work with literary fiction and women’s fiction, and occasionally other genres.


Image of a medieval village with the words "craft a blurb that sells your story"
Clara Carlson-Kirigin

Clara Carlson-Kirigin

I’m Clara, the editor behind Prometheus Editorial. I work with fantasy and romance authors who want to invest in professional editing to help their novels succeed. I love teaching people how to harness the power of language, find their voice, and reach their target readership.

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