Friday, September 2, 2011

Do blurbs help sell books?

Of course they do, but in the world of e-books, they are essential. On Smashwords, for instance, e-book shoppers are presented with a cover and a short description of a book's contents--a blurb. If the cover looks interesting (and yes, many times you can tell a book by its cover), they will read the blurb. If the blurb is interesting and concise, they may decide to download a sample. If the blurb sucks, they will go on to the next listing. It's that simple.

So why do so many of the blurbs I read make me think poorly of the book? I find spelling errors, errors in grammar, typos, run-on sentences, half sentences, meaningless sentences, bluster, blather, biography, and horrible cliches. If the description of the book is poorly written, there is a good chance that the book will be poorly written too. But the reverse is also true--an interesting and exciting description will often hook someone fishing for books.

As a Smashwords and Kindle author and formatter--and because I am always on the lookout for exciting new literature--I carefully read hundreds of blurbs a day. Yet I haven't found an interesting one in months and I'm starting to despair.

This is not a mini-essay on how to write good blurbs. In fact, if I knew the secret to good blurb writing I would be a much better-selling author than I presently am. All I'm saying is that authors should pay special attention to what they put in their 400-word descriptions. If potential readers don't enjoy the description, they'll never get to the actual book.

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