Writing Blurbs That Sizzle and Sell by Karen S. Wiesner (Book Review)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
You need this book! If you're a novelist, you need this book. If you're a self-published author, you need this book. If you're a memoir writer, you...Well, you get the point.

Writing Blurbs That Sizzle and Sell by Karen S. Wiesner will help you write copy for your query letter and your website, for Amazon and a book's back cover, for press releases and marketing emails. The advice in this book will even improve your writing--how you tell your story, how you plot your book, and how you think about your reader. It has plenty of helpful examples and resources, exercises and checklists.

So let's start at the beginning. Karen explains the term blurb and where it came from; but for this book's purposes, she refers to "the very short summary of the story plot" as a blurb. She says there is a "two-fold truth" when it comes to blurbs, and those are:
a) a blurb shouldn't tell the story: it only tells the potential buyer about the story in hopes that he or she will part with hard-earned money to read what's inside, and b) the purpose of a blurb is to sell the book. 

Then she goes on to explain how to write a blurb for many different types of books, including genre books, literary fiction, an entire series (you can have a blurb for each book and then for the entire series--and according to Karen, you should!), nonfiction books such as self-help or humor, anthologies (Karen is very detailed!), and children's books. She ends the how-to section of her book (part one) with a chapter on blurb dos and don'ts, which gives great advice for writing the best blurb you can and practical applications of this advice.

Did I mention there were plenty of examples? I love examples! This book is like a workshop. The value you will receive for the price of this book feels like you have found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I'm not exaggerating here! (smiles) The appendices (or part two) of the book start on page 211 and go to page 382, and it is packed full of evaluations of blurbs that are already published, exercises for blurb crafting and revision, and worksheets and checklists she mentions during part one of the book.

So I used Karen's advice to write a blurb for the novel I've been going on about on The Muffin and on Facebook. (Today, I hit over 75,000 words on my WIP!) Since I talk about   overshare, people are often asking me: what's your book about? I didn't have a good answer and tried poorly to describe it, and then I was worried that maybe I didn't know what the novel was about. Maybe it was horrible and rambling, and no one would ever want to read it.

But Karen's blurb book and her advice saved the day. She says a blurb is made up of two parts: Who and What. For example, here's one she uses for the movie, Spectre:  "A cryptic message from M16 spy James Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization." The who is James Bond and the what is he will follow a cryptic message and reveal this evil organization.

So here's the blurb I wrote for my WIP based on Karen's book. My main character's name is Gwen, but she's not well-known like James Bond, so I used descriptors instead of her name:

A 30-something single mom has no idea who she is after loving a narcissist and enabling her alcoholic sister since she was 18. Will she figure it out before she loses her career, her best friend, and--especially, the best guy ever? 

Then I didn't stop there--I wrote one for each of my already published books, which I plan to use on my website soon! Take this one for example for my historical fiction middle-grade, Finding My Place :
Before she's ready, a 13-year-old girl must take care of her younger brother and sister while living in a cave with a nosy, mean neighbor during the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863. 

I'm so lucky to have received this book in return for a review. I will be recommending this to all of my writer friends. So, check out Writing Blurbs That Sizzle and Sell! here. If you need a gift for a writer, this is perfect--or put it on your own holiday list!

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. She teaches a novel course for WOW! each month, which includes 4 critiques of your work-in-progress. To check out more about her, go to http://www.margoldill.com. To check out her next class starting December 7, go to the WOW! classroom. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Your description of this sizzling book makes it sound like a hot commodity. I think it's a must-have--the examples would certainly help me out. Thanks (a lot, she said a bit sarcastically, after just returning from the NCTE convention with two suitcases full of books ;).

Margo Dill said...

Yes! But the good thing about this book is you could read the sections that pertain to your writing and then work the exercises that pertain to you. So it’s not like a novel where you read cover to cover. Also I forgot to mention, there’s a whole section on author branding too—this book is an investment and a big help in your marketing plan!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Margo ~ This is an EXCELLENT review!! I love how you re-blurbed all your books. It's AMAZING to be able to blurb a book in 1 or 2 sentences! That's your elevator pitch right there.

I'm reading Karen's book as well, and you are so right--it's a must-have for any writer. I actually blurbed my NaNoWriMo project, tentatively titled Hit:

Set in the 90s LA underground rave scene, HIT chronicles a young woman's descent into drug culture, and how her three-year relationship with the man of her dreams devolved from a love story into a shocking tale of abuse--and how she eventually broke free.

I'm SO excited about your women's fiction, and your blurb definitely makes me want to read it right now. Do you have a title yet?

Your re-blurb for Finding My Place rocks!

Thanks for this review! :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Blurbs are so important and I feel like mine are hit or miss. Some are great. Some just are.

Definitely adding this to my must-get list!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--You can tell Karen I just ordered her book. I expect it to be a miracle-worker. ;) I expect it to enable me to write a contract-winning blurb. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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