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Feb28

How to Write a Marketing Blurb Part 2

In 2015, about the time I was writing A Bitter Winter, I published this article on how to write a marketing blurb. How to Write a Marketing Blurb The Silver Ninja Today I’ve decided it’s time to do a follow up to this blog article with How to Write a Marketing Blurb Part 2.

Now in 2022, I figured it was time to revisit this topic with lessons I’ve learned over the past seven years. You’ve seen the editing process and the revision process. Today, we’re going to talk about figuring out what to write for your blurb.

There are three elements you need to write a marketing blurb:

  • The Setup
  • The Conflict
  • The Hook

(And if you have questions on launching your book. Why not check out The Merry Writer podcast? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0Dn7zh5GbA)

But before you can do these three things, the first thing you have to do is figure out

What is your book about?

When we ask what your book is about, we’re not talking about the subplots, the themes, the plot twists, the technologies, we’re talking about the overall conflict. When you talk about your book what is your primary protagonist struggling with? Or what is the world struggling with?

Foreign invaders try to take over the land from the natives.

(Pocahontas, Avatar.)

A cancer-stricken chemistry teacher decides to use his knowledge to become a drug lord.

(Breaking Bad.)

A girl falls in love with a vampire.

(Twilight.)

A group of rebels must stop a space station from destroying their planet.

(Star Wars: A New Hope)

Does this make sense?

The goal is to simplify, simplify, simplify. Don’t tell me that Pocahontas fell in love with John Smith (not yet at least.) I don’t need to know the chemistry teacher has to work for another drug lord. The girl stuck in a love triangle with a werewolf is currently irrelevant. Rescuing Princess Leia is not the point of the movie.

Tell me the absolute barebones minimum of your story. This is the foundation where you will build the rest of your blurb.

Establishing this also creates . . .

The Setup for your blurb

What is the setup? The setup is the general overview of the status quo. What is the world before the conflict starts?

In Disney’s Pocahontas, the natives live in peace while a crew of explorers are out to establish a new world.

For the show Breaking Bad, Walter White is a brilliant chemist who teaches high school chemistry even though he’s capable of much more.

For Star Wars, a young boy works on a farm with his uncle while dreaming about a future beyond the stars.

(I don’t know that much about Twilight so I am going to leave it off for this example.)

So, tell me the absolute basic description of the status quo.

The Conflict

Once you’ve established the status quo then we advance to the next step which is the conflict, otherwise known as the disruptor. What event takes place that shakes things up? Remember, keep it short, keep it simple, make it easy to understand for a five-year old.

“A white foreigner shoots a Native American causing a declaration of war.”

“Walter White receives a cancer diagnosis and realizes he won’t have anything to leave behind for his family.”

“The Empire kills Luke’s uncle and forces the young boy to leave home.”

Like I said before, keep it simple. The more detail you include in your blurb the more boring and bloated your blurb becomes.

The Hook

The hook is the part that makes things interesting. It is what will reel in your fish after they bite. This is the part where you include what makes your story unique. Or the part that makes it scandalous, juicy, whatever you want to call it.

“While the colonists go to war with the Native Americans, Pocahontas confesses she is in love with John Smith, the white colonist.”

“Walter White realizes he can use his knowledge of chemistry to create the best illegal drugs on the market and create his own empire.”

“Luke discovers the Empire has a space station capable of destroying planets. His only hope is to save Princess Leia and recover the secret plans to destroy it.”

Put it all together

Walter White is a brilliant chemist who didn’t pursue his ambitions and settled for a life as an ordinary high school chemistry teacher.

When he receives a cancer diagnosis from his doctor, he realizes he doesn’t have enough money to leave behind for his family.

He decides to use his chemistry knowledge to create the best illegal drugs on the market. This leads him on a journey to become the wealthiest drug lord in New Mexico.

What’s NOT included in the blurb

We didn’t cover Walter White meeting Jesse Pinkman. We don’t mention the hitman Mike or Gus Fring forcing Walter to work for him. Walter’s failing marriage or the fact that his brother in-law is a DEA officer is completely irrelevant to the main conflict, which is: Walter has cancer, and this diagnosis makes him realize he can be so much more than what he is.

You only cover the elements that are going to encourage your reader to pick up the book. The more you understand your own story the more options you have to decide which hook will work best for your blurb and pull in the most readers.

So, if you want to talk about Walter having to avoid his DEA brother in-law, you could turn that into the hook instead. Or if you want to talk about Walter having to compete with other drug lords, you can rewrite the blurb to highlight that aspect. Anything is possible if it’s simple and short.

If you find that your setup and conflict isn’t doing anything for you then you’re probably not writing about the heart of the story. You may be focusing on the wrong element and will need to re-think what your story is about.

Conclusion

Remember, and I will keep repeating every time I talk about it. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Don’t talk about the X-Wings unless your story is about a squadron of X-Wings. Don’t talk about a character’s marriage problems if the focus is on preventing the end of the world.

You have to literally ask yourself in the third person, “Why did I write this book? What did I focus on when I wrote this book? What makes my book different from the others?”

For example: “I re-told the story of Cinderella except this time she’s a cyborg and she will face discrimination for being a cyborg and a plague is ravaging the world.” -Cinder

Leave only the coolest bits and get rid of the rest. Don’t spoil everyone’s appetite by feeding them entrees before the apps.

Did you find this advice useful to you? Comment below and share your own experiences writing blurbs.


https://www.thesilverninja.com/2015/08/09/how-to-write-a-marketing-blurb/

https://www.thesilverninja.com/2020/11/30/top-three-reasons-why-you-need-to-publish-your-crappy-novel/

Wilmar Luna