Writing a great blurb for your contemporary romance novel

DSCN9080After a great break away, it’s time to get back to writing and I always find that this weekly blog post breaks me in gently on a Monday morning. I thought I ought to start with an update of where things are with my writing journey. This photo shows one of the mountains we saw whilst we were away in the French Alps last week and it reminds me a lot of where I am with my writing right now.

Before I went away on holiday, I got in touch with a freelance editor I’d met at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s (RNA) conference in July and asked her to do a partial edit on the first three chapters of ‘From Here to Nashville,’ my debut novel. I have sent her the final draft of those chapters so I hope that these represent as close to the finished work as I can make it on my own. I am nervously awaiting her feedback which is due by the end of this month. Dependent on what comes back, I may or may not have a lot of work to do to polish the rest of the story to the same standard as the first three chapters will be after her help.

The other thing I have done is to contact a cover designer and I am all set to go with them this week in starting work on an e-book cover only, in the first instance. They have a lot of experience in book cover design and also in the romance genre and I’m looking forward to working with them. The cover should be ready by mid-September and I will keep you up to date with its progress.

In the meantime, I am still implementing the revisions suggested by my RNA reader following my manuscript assessment as part of the New Writers’ Scheme. This should keep me busy whilst all these other things are going on. On top of this, I have started working on a blurb for my novel, just another one of those seemingly easy but actually quite difficult jobs you have to do as a novelist. I read an interesting blog post at the weekend by Tara Sparling called ‘What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books’ which you can read here on her blog. The three things that came out of her survey that encouraged people to buy were the cover, the sample and the blurb. As I’ve got going on the cover and the book itself is on its way to being professionally edited, I felt it was time to turn my attention to the blurb.

I have had a go at this in the past but found it quite difficult so I did some research and found an interesting piece all about it here, on Digital Bookworld’s site. Their advice is to follow four easy steps to writing your blurb: first, describe the situation your characters are in at the start of the story; then explain the problem; next, tell the reader what the ‘hopeful possibility’ is; finally, describe the mood of the story. I found this incredibly useful and have even managed to produce a first go which comes in at just under 150 words. It’s not as good as it could be yet but it’s a start. I also spent some time looking at blurbs for other books I’ve read and enjoyed on Amazon to see what I should be aiming for. Whilst doing this, I noticed that most blurbs start with a separate line of just a few words which aim to hook the reader in. For example, Kate Atkinson’s ‘Life After Life’ blurb starts with: ‘What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?’ And ‘Can Baking Mend a Broken Heart?’ from Jenny Colgan’s ‘Little Beach Street Bakery.’ In keeping with this idea then, mine is ‘Can Music Really Make Your Dreams Come True?’ Once again, it’s a first go but it’s made me think about my story and how to hook readers.

Thanks for reading and if you have any thoughts about writing a blurb, do let me know in the comments below. Good luck with writing yours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Writing a great blurb for your contemporary romance novel

    • Not at all 🙂 It will be good to get my name a bit further out there. I’m glad you found it useful and I hope readers of the BNBS books blog will find it helpful too.

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  1. I think one of the most important things is to ‘leave ’em wanting more’. I say this because of two blurbs I’ve read for romantic comedies, recently, in which it has been obvious, even though the blurbs were well written in themselves, exactly what happens in the story. It was clear that it was the oft-used (though very successful, of course) formula of girl meets boy, girl and boy get off on wrong foot, girl and boy eventually realise admit in love, and you even had the names of the girl/boy, Seriously, even if I was into this genre, I wouldn’t have needed to buy the book, as it was all there, in the blurb! Thanks for the Tara whatsit article, that was really interesting. I’d argue with one point, though; surely the reading of the sample comes after the decision (via cover, reviews, etc) has already been made? Perhaps I ought to make that point on the article not here, sorry!!!!

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    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Terry. I look forward to our chats 😉 I agree that the blurb should leave readers wanting more but that’s what makes them so difficult, especially for the new writer. I’ve looked at a lot of examples today and seen a real variety. If you get it wrong, it’s like watching a trailer and feeling that there’s no point in seeing the film afterwards. The trick I guess, is to tell them enough to get them hooked but not to tell all.

      On your other point, I have read a few samples but decided not to go ahead and download the book afterwards, which perhaps suggests that those blurbs weren’t that good.

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      • Problem is, I think, that you can never get it absolutely right because different things appeal to different people. The good thing is that you can change it any time you like, it’s not just set there on Amazon like when you publish a book. If it’s not working, you can always tweak away! You have one huge point in your favour, too – romcoms have to be THE best-selling genre. I think they’re the 21st century version of Mills and Boon – addicts by four a week!!

        Aside from this, as you will find when you do publish your book, your biggest problem will be VISIBILITY. Many, many of all our books would sell better if only people knew they were there in the first place. I’m sure there are hundreds of books I would LOVE, s/p and otherwise, but Amazon is a massive place and I just don’t know they’re there! Which is why I can understand that the cover is the biggest pull – it gives the chance of a random click.

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      • Yes, that’s true that you can’t ever appeal to everyone, of course but you can at least tweak it if you want to afterwards. I thought your blurbs were very good by the way and I guess that comes with experience.

        Visibility is another issue altogether and perhaps one I may have to address on the blog in the future (hopefully when I have worked out the secret)!

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      • ps, sorry if I got your genre wrong – I presumed by ‘contemporary romance’ you meant romcom, but maybe not!

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      • Ha! It’s not a romcom but contemporary romance would definitely have to include them because it’s so broad. This is something I’m studying quite closely when I look at other books on Amazon because there isn’t really any more of a sub-category than that for me. I’ve noticed that a lot of people use women’s fiction too which I guess I will use as well. Anyway, that’s at the back of my mind for now as I plod on with everything else 🙂 Thanks for chatting about it all.

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    • I’m so glad you found it helpful, Charli and you’re so right about sharing 🙂 Thanks for following me on Twitter too, looking forward to getting to know you better.

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