Monday, December 17, 2012

Cover Blurbs

I've been thinking for a while about self-publishing, which means I'll have to do a lot of things myself. One of those is the cover blurb (I wonder where that word came from?).

So today I pulled down a bunch of books from my bookshelf and analyzed them.

They broke down into two major categories. The first (and largest) is a simple cause/event structure.

Hook --> MC --> Event (what changed?) --> Explanation (why does it matter?) --> Event (inciting incident) --> Hook

The initial hook doesn't have to be story-related. It can be the author's name, an endorsement, a series title or even the name of the book. In that case, the MC is usually listed first in the blurb itself. Since no one would recognize my name, I don't have any endorsements, etc, I'll keep the hook, thank you very much.

The second category is actually a sub-set of this one, apparently used in situations where the inciting incident (event) takes place before the book begins.

Hook --> Event (what changed?) --> MC --> Explanation (why does it matter?) --> Event (inciting incident) --> Hook

Of the books I looked at, two fit in this category, and twenty-three in the first group, for a total of twenty-five.

The third category (or second, depending on how you look at it) is used for situations where there are two MC's or two separate storylines. Five of the books I looked at used this format.

MC --> Hook --> [explanation] --> [Event] --> MC --> Hook --> [explanation] --> Event --> Hook

This format introduces the first character, gives us a reason to care (which I'm referring to here as another hook) then introduces the second character and again gives us a reason to care. Usually there's an explanation section, telling what the two have in common or why they're together, but not always. Then the inciting incident and a final hook to draw the reader in.

I looked at dozens of books, and all but one fit into one of these categories. That one could loosely fit into the character-hook format, except that there was only one character presented. It went character --> event --> event --> event --> event --> etc and seemed rather amateur. If I'd not read the author before I never would have picked it up.

Based on this analysis, over the next few weeks I'm going to try to create cover-blurbs for some of my finished novels. Hopefully you'll let me know what you think, what works and what doesn't.

Have you seen other formats?

Post a cover-blurb for one of your books in the comments, let's see what you come up with!

Don't forget, if you're one of my followers you can sign up for a free manuscript evaluation. Simply indicate in the comments if you want to participate and I'll select the winner at the end of December.


  1. Looking forward to reading your blurbs!

  2. Cover blurbs are tough. Here's mine...

    Wind tunnels, torrential rains and earthquakes tear apart Casden. The cause of the world’s imbalance is unknown, but the mounting occurrences suggest there’s little time before life ceases to exist.

    Rydan Gale and Akara Nazreth are the only humans with the ability to wield magic. The tattoo on their necks and the discovery of an ancient book, dictate they are the key to the world’s survival.

    But the greatest obstacle for saving mankind isn’t the bizarre creatures, extreme betrayals and magic-fearing men hunting them.

    It’s that Akara doesn’t believe the world is worth saving

    1. Interesting that Akara doesn't believe the world is worth saving. Does she believe that she is worth saving? Or Rydan, or anyone else? Because if the world dies, so do they.