Do you have a burning question that you’ve always wanted to ask an editor? Does the first sentence in your story not feel right to you, for example? Or have you had trouble killing off a villain (writerly-speaking, of course)? Are you re-thinking your position on the need for the Oxford comma? Well, for the writers, published and aspiring, part-time bloggers and word cognoscenti among you, here is your chance!
For this post, we are collaborating with the editors at Invisible Ink Editing to answer your editing question. This post is part of our monthly Ask the Editor advice column. You may send in your questions to Ask the Editor and if we pick your question for the column and you leave us an URL, we’ll even link back to you. Or you can also choose to be anonymous. So send us the editing conundrums that keep you up at night and sleep better!
Here’s this month’s query.
I am working on the back cover for my book. What are the top three things I need to think about when writing a back cover blurb?
Dear Dust Jacket,
If the authors I’ve worked with over the years are any indication, writing a book blurb is way up there on the list of daunting tasks. Here are a few tips that can help remove some of the stress.
1. Hook your reader and reel them in. Think of your blurb like a teaser or a movie trailer. A strong opener can do wonders for catching readers’ interest. Lots of authors opt to open with a pithy hook, but even if you’d rather not go that route, always be sure to open with a tidbit that’s enticing—at least, enticing enough to get the reader to move on to the next line!
2. Don’t summarize the plot. As you sit down to write your blurb, it’s only natural to be thinking about all the ins and outs of your story. So you start typing, and before you know it, you’ve included dozens of plot details. Here’s the problem: if I can get the whole story from the blurb, why would I bother to open the cover? Give your readers only the most important nuggets they need to understand what makes the book worth reading—never reveal the twist, the grand finale, or the entire arc of any character.
3. Consider your blurb in a marketing context. The point of your book blurb is to sell your book. So do your due diligence by asking yourself:
○ Does my blurb convey the right mood for the novel?
○ Do the blurb and the cover (and my other marketing materials) go together thematically?
○ What styles of blurbs are other authors in my genre writing?
A little market research—aka reading other blurbs on various e-book retailers—can help you make sure you’re (a) not copying anyone else and (b) keeping in line with your readers’ expectations.
These pointers are taken from my blog post “7 simple tips for writing a better book blurb.” Read the full blog post for more useful tips on writing a great book blurb.
Senior Editor at Invisible Ink Editing
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Invisible Ink Editing is an independent editing firm founded by Liam Carnahan, who also acts as Chief Editor. Invisible Ink provides editing services that include beta reading and critique, line editing and final proofreading. The members of the Invisible Ink Editing team also include Leah Wohl-Pollack (Senior Editor), Samantha Gordon (Lead Editor) and Anne Casey (Associate Editor). “When you hand over your manuscript to a professional editor, it feels like you’re giving away your child,” the editors at Invisible Ink tell us, “Think of us at Invisible Ink as literary pediatricians. We’ll care for your work, nourish it, and help it grow.” Find out more about Invisible Ink and their services at the Invisible Ink Editing website.