Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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May 17, 2024

Book Blurbs That Sell

by Laurie Schnebly Campbell

The Do's and Don'ts of Book Blurbs

We all know that writers are super-powered beings who can convince readers snug in bed that they’re actually freezing on the Arctic tundra…

...eloping with the incredibly attractive leader of the enemy forces…

...saying a final goodbye to their stalwart horse…

...basking in a Paris penthouse while they plan how to spend their billion-dollar inheritance…

We do that every day of the week.

Because we’re creators of magic, right? We can take ANY situation and turn it into something funny, or dramatic, or terrifying, or heartwarming, or thought-provoking, or whatever our readers want.

So if we’ve got that kind of superpower -- the mind-boggling ability to turn any situation into exactly what an audience wants -- why is it so incredibly hard to write a blurb for our book?

Especially when, most of the time, we can pretty much take our superpower for granted. While we don’t usually get tired of hearing people rave about our writing skill, we’ve gotten accustomed to comments like:

  • “Your note made my day.”
  • “Your hero made me swoon.”
  • “Your reference letter won me the job.”

“Well, of course,” we think. “Come on, I’m a writer -- this is what I’m great at!”

Which makes it all the more startling when we come across some new type of writing that we’re NOT necessarily great at right from the start.

Okay, we might not expect to be great at computer coding. Or calligraphy. Or composing a symphony. But writing a synopsis, a query, or <gulp> a blurb for our book?

How can that be so HARD?

I used to think I was incredibly gifted because I could whip out a blurb or synopsis in no time. A novel, not so much…but summing up the essence of the book? Piece of cake!

But then I realized this was only because of my day job as an advertising copywriter. Anyone who’s written for clients with something they want people to buy learns pretty quickly to identify -- and highlight -- the Unique Selling Points that’ll appeal to this seller’s Target Market.

(Although, drat it, that still didn't make writing the manuscript any easier. Hmph!)

The Essence of a Blurb

A blurb is very much LIKE an ad because it tells somebody why they want to buy your book -- but also UNLIKE because it doesn't have to tell the entire story, much less how the conflict gets resolved.

And, back to why they’re alike...you know how an ad needs to draw you in from the very start? It's gotta have a headline (or an opening) that makes you think "hmm, I want to see more of this."

Then to keep reading for more.

Your blurb has to do the same. Which is why you need to:

Forget everything you know about writing a novel.

When you're writing a novel, you have to think about plot structure and character development and turning points and how the people grow-learn-change and where to plant clues about upcoming developments and at what point the setting should evolve....

In effect, you have to think long-term.

For the blurb, you don't want long-term. You don't necessarily even want to include the plot plus the character/s plus the setting/s, any of that -- all you want is a BIT of what's cool about your story.

Since identifying what’s cool is generally more the job of a publicist than of a storyteller, you need to switch hats for this particular writing task. We all know what a great storyteller does, and we do it all the time. But a great publicist might NOT know every character in the book... every fabulous little plot twist... every nail-biting complication… as thoroughly as you do.

What they DO know, though, is the guts of what your book delivers. And when offering up those guts (ew, that sounds yicky!) here are:

3 DOs & DON’Ts to keep in mind.

1) DO make use of unusual connections that readers might not expect.

Examples of those would include some intriguing combinations like:

  • Vikings & Kindergartners
  • Wedding & Murder
  • Cowboys & Wizards
  • Terror & Humor

Anyone who already likes half of such a pair is gonna be eager to see how the other half fits into this story.

2) DON’T mention a cool detail that’s not a big deal in the plot.

If you have a military thriller during which the agent who’s fleeing pursuers winds up racing through Prince William’s coronation ball during a single one of the book’s 320 pages, this event doesn’t belong in the blurb. Otherwise, readers who love Prince William and coronation balls will be annoyed when they don’t get any more than just that one-page mention.

3) DO convey the mood of the book.

This is crucial, and it’s also where Test Marketing comes in the most handy. Which is one MORE thing that makes writing a blurb similar to writing an ad.

And, speaking of ads, that leads to a:

What’s some ad (in print, online, TV, radio, signage, whatever) that made you think “yes, I want this” -- to the point where you actually DID place an order, go to the business, make a donation, whatever they wanted you to do?

Do you remember how it opened? (It’s okay to mention the ad even if you don’t remember the opening; it was still doing its job just fine.) Share your answer in the comments!

Someone who comments will win free registration to Blurbing Your Book, a June 3-14 email class on using ad techniques to do exactly that. On Monday morning, I’ll have random dot org draw a name and post it at the end of the comments...and, hurray, I can even justify doing that while at my Day Job since technically it’s about how advertising affects people. 🙂

* * * * * *

About Laurie

Laurie Schnebly Campbell

After winning Romantic Times’ “Best Special Edition of the Year” over Nora Roberts, Laurie Schnebly Campbell discovered she loved teaching every bit as much as writing...if not more. Since then she’s taught online and live workshops including the one at groups.io/g/Blurb, and keeps a special section of her bookshelves for people who’ve developed that particular novel in her classes. With 50+ titles there so far, she’s always hoping for more.

Top photo created in Canva by Writers In the Storm.

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98 comments on “Book Blurbs That Sell”

    1. Diane, I'm so glad it came in handy -- thanks for letting me know! (And, boy, I hope you're living way far east of Phoenix because otherwise I'd be intimidated at knowing someone else is awake and posting at 2:30 in the morning.)

  1. 'Blurb' - like 'blog' - has become something that represents the whole and a part of it, and has different definitions.

    Is it a logline? What the book is 'about'? Is it the two sentence description in TV Guide (for those who remember those little teasers)? Do you want to pitch it if stuck in an elevator with a top agent? Is it the whole book description? Or is it a quick quote on the cover or elsewhere from a more famous writer? ("Don't miss this thriller!", Stephen King)

    All of these have been called 'the blurb' in the past decade. And each is something a bit different, another way to provide ad copy to describe a book vastly longer.

    I have books on writing blurbs, especially of the very short or the back of the paperback whole book description variety.

    I know all these places need copy - and it should all add to an impression - and never feel I've gotten it quite right.

    I write mainstream fiction, indie, literary - and I think that's the hardest to summarize or tease about. But I've seen it done, and done well. Jaws, Gone with the Wind, Dune - but they're not a fair comparison to what we have to produce, because they are so embedded in the collective consciousness that we conjure up the whole book when we hear them - because we already know these books.

    How to do it when you're starting from a title and a cover and the inability to summarize 500K words into a sentence - that's far less obvious. And sounds so generic when I see them on so many ads they could be for half the books published. Here's an example: "A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage." Guess which book's descriptions included that line!

    "A heart-pounding novel of suspense and a brilliant meditation on the nature of humanity," is useless without the fact that it is on the Amazon page for... Jaws. But I do remember from somewhere, "Don't go in the water."

    I would love to write the iconic, NON-generic blurb that would characterize my novel trilogy forever.

    1. Alicia, I think that dream is right up there with staying on the NYT bestseller list for two years in a row, or writing the novel whose movie adaptation wins Best Picture of the Year...it's sure fun to fantasize about. And a close second is someone saying "I've never forgotten that line!"

  2. Great article, Laurie. I think it's easier for someone not as close to the story as the author to write the blurb because we're so caught up in those details like you mentioned. Someone outside the story isn't bogged down by those details and can see the bigger picture.

    To answer your question, I received a solicitation from our local humane society and opened it because there were pawprints on the envelope. LOL! And yes, I'm sure I'll make a donation because getting me to open the envelope was half the battle.

    1. Carrie, I love the paw prints on the envelope -- what a great technique! And, hmm, your book covers often have dogs on the cover so you've clearly grasped the appeal of "animals we can love" as a way of getting people to, yep, open it up. 🙂

  3. I realized while I was reading this that I dreamed last night that I was taking mental note of the tropes/keywords that applied to my book. I know it was a dream because one of them was "single mother" and that's not in anything I'm writing or planning. LOL I stink at figuring out good keywords that evoke that "ooh" factor you're talking about. Mostly what I can remember of ads that worked was naming a feature that was specifically important to me. Like "non-toxic nonstick" and a frustration with my then-current pans led me to check out Our Place and the Always Pan.

    1. Natalie, I wonder if an upcoming book WILL feature a single mother? If so, you'll know when the idea got started...maybe keywords will always appear in your dreams. 🙂 And now you've got me curious about the Always Pan -- good illustration of how the blurbs WORK for word-of-mouth.

  4. Thank you for this article. Thinking about it as an ad really helps. Carrie mentions that an emotional appeal worked on her, and that tends to get me, too. Also, I listen to catchy things (like Progressive/Flo).

    1. Everyl, it's handy knowing that "emotional" and "catchy" resonate with you...that's very likely to come through in your writing, and make it easier to concentrate on your book's (or rather, books') Unique Selling Points that reflect one or both of those!

  5. Do you also love the ocean and care about the life it holds?

    This was for t-shirt sales to help replenish oysters in the ocean... I bought one!

    1. Cyn, wow, that IS a grabber -- and a very good way to show how well they know their market. People who don't care about the ocean aren't even gonna notice the T-shirt appeal and the marketer doesn't have to waste time on them...they're focusing on those who DO.

  6. I do read blurbs, but they don't make me want to read a book. I realized a long time ago that the author and the blurbsters are friends or the blurbsters are doing someone a favor. The acknowledgements typically thank the very individuals who wrote the blurbs for their assistance in writing the book. It's also possible to tell that the person writing the blurb either wasn't crazy about the book or didn't read it. That said, it's like a tetanus shot. You're probably never going to get lockjaw, but why take the risk? You'll ask your writer friends to write blurbs, and you'll offer to do the same for them.

    1. Paula, it sure CAN look suspicious when the same endorsers appear all over each other's work. I remember someone doing a study on that, maybe 15 years ago, using public information to point out who could be considered Pro Endorsers reading 10 books a week.

  7. The only ads that I actually watch that make me "feel" anything are those ads (which I know everyone has seen because of their impact) about the ASPCA. The first thing you see is a dog out in the snow, chained to his small outdoor doghouse, shivering and skinny and freezing to death. At which point the ASPCA asks for a donation that is a pittance when it's calculated how much it would cost a day to donate. Those are the ads that get me from the very start without having to even tell me much more than what the picture shows.

    1. Patti, what a perfect illustration of how a picture is worth a thousand words. And you're right, the ASPCA does a fabulous job of touching people's hearts -- I envy whoever gets to work at their ad agency. Although there might be some heartbreak while choosing the photos...

    2. When I see one of those ads, I close my ears and my eyes. If necessary I sing loudly and avoid looking at the television, stealing glances until the ad is over.

      1. Peg, that's what my husband used to call (after our five-year-old son did the same thing on a Disneyland ride that involved meeting the Abominable Snowman) "whatever gets you through the ride." It's sure quicker & easier than changing the channel and back again!

  8. Laurie,
    Thanks for this article which will come in very handy since I need to do a book blurb soon. I like the idea of mixing two unrelated things to catch people's attention. There is a compelling series of ads about a program to help first responders get a mortgage-free house. I thought about how fortunate I am and how much this program would help others. I signed right up right away.

    1. Carol, what a great example of mixing unexpected things -- how nice that it did the job for those first responders plus whoever's working to help them. And your stories are complex enough that coming up with such mixtures will be a wonderfully engaging process. 🙂

  9. I remember a series of TV and cinema adds here in England for bags of Haribo children's sweets. They all featured grown ups chatting in different situations eg in a boardroom, in a lift, a rockband... But all the grownup voices had been replaced by the voices of very young children and the result was hilarious. The adverts were so memorable I started buying Haribos for the grandchildren and still do, because just thinking about the adverts makes me smile. (And the sweets are really good too.)

    1. Janet, any ad that makes you smile whenever you remember it -- coupled with a truly great product -- deserves to win exactly the kind of response the advertiser was hoping for. I'll bet if you ever wrote Haribo a fan letter, you'd absolutely make their (and their ad agency's) day!

    1. Suzan, heart-touching is a wonderful technique for getting people to take action...often by first reading a bit more to learn what they need to do, and maybe also to learn more about the offer / appeal itself. Which is exactly what every book-blurb writer wants to inspire. 🙂

  10. I recently purchased The Bohannon Witches Cookbook: Cooking Up Healthy and Delicious Recipes. Although it is available as an eBook, I bought the print edition. I was sold by the blurb and the gorgeous cover, and wanted a physical copy to keep on my shelf. Here is the blurb:

    "In The Bohannon Witches series, Emily Bex detailed what the sister witches were cooking up in the kitchen, which brought about the idea of this companion cookbook.

    In the fictional story, two of the sisters are on a quest to find a grimoire. In the author’s thinking, a journal of spells and what is needed to cast them seemed much like a cookbook. This launched the idea to create a combination of the two and this unique cookbook was born.

    This exquisite book is a compilation of beautiful art, created by Dawne Dominque, fun facts collected by Emily Bex, and over three decades of recipe creations by Amy Smith. The result is not only a companion to the series, but a cookbook for the ages.

    The recipes found in The Bohannon Witches Cookbook were created to be easy, healthy, and designed for busy women who want to put freshly prepared food on the table without spending long hours in the kitchen.

    We hope you enjoy them."

    BTW, I only read one of the books in the series, but loved the idea of the companion cookbook!

    1. Katherine, wow, that's a great example of how an unexpected combination of factors (witches and cooking? why, of COURSE!) and a description showing how the product will meet the needs of people reading about it can lead to sale after sale after sale after sale.

  11. "I want my MAPO!" said the cartoon child in the Maypo commercial. Which sent me on a nostalgic search for Maypo as an adult. Unfortunately, I had to settle for maple and brown sugar flavored instant oatmeal instead.

    Thanks for another wonderful post, Laurie!

    1. Ginger, you sure brought back a powerful memory...I'd forgotten that commercial, and it was darling. Which, hmm, makes me think anyone who writes a great blurb for their book should do everything possible to make sure the book will still be available two generations later!

  12. Great article, Laurie.

    I find it much easier to write blurbs for other authors. I suspect that I'm too close to my own work, which makes composing the blurb trickier.

    1. Ellen, you're absolutely right that the detachment of writing someone else's blurb makes it a whole LOT easier. Any writer with a friend who enjoys doing that, just like anyone who can afford to hire a professional publicist who does it for a living, deserves to be envied. 🙂

  13. I think the last one that really got me to go out and actually make a purchase was the preview for the movie Abigail. It opens with a group of kidnappers setting up to hold their hostage -- a young girl -- overnight until they receive the ransom.

    It then proceeds to show the girl smiling to show her fangs, and one of the kidnappers gasping: "A ballerina vampire?"

    That was about the point where I was sold on it, honestly, but it did a good job in other ways: it gave a clear idea of what the movie was going to be like (a promise which the movie kept), but it didn't give anything away that was supposed to be a surprise.

    1. Michael, cool idea to use a movie trailer as an example of some ad that got you to take action -- their job is exactly the same as a book blurb, and it sounds like they did it brilliantly. (I'm not even a vampire fan, but pairing that with ballerina sure grabbed my attention!)

  14. Hi Laurie,
    Always interesting and informative reading your blog posts. I can't think of a particular ad as they tend to blur together However I realised it's the unique factor that gets you in. It's what gets you to pay attention, watch the whole ad and listen to the product info while ignoring the rest.

    1. Tracey, you're exactly right about "ignoring the rest" -- there's so MUCH to ignore in everyday life, where we're deluged with demands for our attention. So coming across something that actually holds us for a minute is a treat, creating a win/win for the seller as well.

  15. Hi Laurie! Great blog post, and I got even more info from a "tips" article on your site about writing pitches. Thanks! Hope it's OK to post the link: https://booklaurie.com/blog/ten-minutes-to-glory-your-editor-agent-pitch/

    OK, my ad is actually a marketing blurb that got me to buy Kate Quinn's historical women's fiction THE DIAMOND EYE.

    It starts out: "In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kyiv, wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son—but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path."

    And wraps up with: "Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever."

    And the book is so, so good.

    1. Debbie, I'm tickled you thought to find that link -- thanks for sharing it! And, boy, does this blurb ever do a good job of hitting hot-buttons: bookish, Ukraine, young son, library, Hitler, mother becoming a soldier, changing history forever...almost EVERY reader will find a "wow" in there.

  16. Thanks for your helpful article. Blurbs, ahhh! Love the idea of unusal connections. I couldn't resist the Tunnel to Towers ads to help injured veterans. They show both the horror and the joy of family, and everyone's favorite, the happy ending. I now donate every month.

    1. Carolyn, I'm glad the article was helpful -- and how cool that Tunnels to Towers has benefited from your support all these years; I'll bet whoever was responsible for that initial work would be thrilled to hear they not only moved you that one time, but many times since.

  17. Terrific post on blurbs, Laurie!
    Like others here, the emotional apsect of an ad snags my attention, but sometimes it's just the unusual juxtaposition of items that does it.
    Honestly, I can't think of any ads that have made me want to go buy/donate/etc, but I've seen two ads that made me leery of ever using a personal injury lawyer...

    On my way to the grocery store this morning, I noticed a new billboard advertising for a lawyer: the "outlaw" lawyer, wearing a cowboy hat, stared out from the photo. Considering how many personal injury lawyer billboards I see on a regular basis, this stuck out to me. Most wear suits, ties, and smile and have cheesy "memorable" lines that I don't remember.

    A second ad that stuck out to me was another personal injury lawyer billboard was the American lawyer's photo in the place of George Washington's on a dollar bill. Oddly, in the photo, the guy wore a powdered wig like the UK's judges and solicitors (or are they barristers?) wear in court. My family burst into laughter at that.

    Thankfully, I don't need a personal injury lawyer right now.

    1. Meredith, what fun to see examples of ads that DIDN'T work -- there's probably as much to be learned from those as from the ones that DO. Here's hoping you never wind up needing a personal injury lawyer...but if you do, that there'll be one with a much more appealing pitch. 🙂

  18. The product or service has to fill a need or meet an interest that I already had. For example, some people who went to one of my alma maters described their new online service in the alumni magazine. I was already looking for a service to do that for me, so bingo! For me, it's not how the ad was written, but that it appeared when I was ready. Sorry.

    1. Meg, you're right on target in thinking that a product or service HAS to meet a need in order to make us take action -- and when we're eager to act, it doesn't require a fabulous pitch to get us moving. Blurbs are more for the people who might, or might not, want to buy a book today.

  19. Olay body wash ad on TV. I usually fast forward but I was not happy with the one I was using because it had no scent so I watched the ad. I liked the scents mentioned in the ad. I bought one of the body wash bottles the next time I went shopping.

    For books, I usually read the summary in Goodreads and then I read the 3 star review from readers. I think the 3 star reviews give me the best info about the book. The commentators did not love the book and they did not hate it.

    1. Rene, good example of USPs in that ad which mentioned the scents -- if those hadn't been part of the commercial, they might never have gotten you to buy. And your reviews policy is intriguing...maybe if you adore a book, giving it three stars will attract more readers!

  20. Thank you for this information, both timely and relevant.

    As odd as it may sound, the most compelling ad I have ever seen in my life, I saw first when I was about six years old. It was a billboard advertisement off an LA freeway in the early sixties-- for vodka, no less. I was mesmerized by the ad's blurb, rather than the product or the pictures. Something to the effect was the blurb: "Kam -chat- ka ... it's how you spell vodka." Now, I am not a fan of vodka and have never purchased a bottle of Kamchatka Vodka, but I am now considering doing so for nostalgia purposes. I wish I could tell you how many trips I spent in the back of my parents' station wagon trying to make sense of how 'vodka' could possibly be pronounced with the letters 'kam-chat-ka'. For better or worse, I think that was an incredible ad from the eyes of a six-year old!

    1. Jennifer, it's so easy picturing that six-year-old in the back seat trying to figure out how kam-chat-ka could spell vodka...your growing up as a lover of words shows that trait starting very early in life! And, heck, you can still enjoy the memory even without making the purchase. 🙂

  21. I always love seeing your articles as usual, but now all I can think about is Viking kindergarteners being attacked by cowboy wizards and if they ride horses or dragons!

    1. Margie, you just conjured up a wonderfully vivid image -- that actually hadn't occurred to me when writing those phrases, but now I'm gonna be wondering the same thing myself! (Just hoping some kind of resolution arrives relatively early rather than keeping me awake all night... 🙂 )

  22. Hi Laurie,
    Loved your post and the clear links between writing copy and writing blurb. Thank you!

    My ad-to-purchase was for Brooklyn Cat beds(NZ). Would love to post a picture here from their ad.

    Thank you so much.

  23. Hi Laurie! Love your advice and columns always! 🙂 The Kohl's ads on Facebook! They are bright eye-catching and show the sale price and if I have Kohl's cash to spend, I buy. Lol.

    1. Chrissie, I'm so glad you mentioned Kohl's Cash...I just got an email that mine is about to expire, and what a good reminder to go buy something! Drat, if only my nearest Kohl's sold books all year round instead of just as Christmas stocking stuffers -- living the dream, huh?

  24. You already know I love this article, Laurie. Blurbs give me fits, so I always ask my pals to do mine (and I offer a trade).

    I thought about the things that make me spend, and it's usually a really great sale, or a case of FOMO. And BookBub ads, which goes back to the sale thing. When I see that really awesome price and think, "oooh, I've been wanting a [fill in the blank]."

    1. Jenny, it's very cool when a book's blurb can make you think "I need this right NOW!" Whether it's because of the story, or a pricing special, or the fear of missing out on something fabulous, those are all good reasons to decide "yep, I'm buying this for sure."

  25. Hi Laurie, terrific article and one that I wish more writers paid attention to, whether they or a pro writes the blurb. Many blurbs don't match the story between the covers very well, and that's disappointing to this reader. A well-written ad is one thing, but it must also be somewhat truthfully representative. Some miss the boat...and that's sad.
    This morning I ordered a watering can from an Amazon seller because the ad included a video clip. Can't get closer to the truth than that. I liked what I saw and I bought the item. I remember a few years back when a handful of online booksellers included a short video in their marketing venture. Loved it. But that must be quite cost-inhibitive, especially for new authors trying to grow a presence. The best insurance is to do it right: take your class to learn how to write a terrific blurb; one that will sell your book.

    1. Elaine, that IS awful when a blurb doesn't match the book. The Prince William coronation is one example of a "technical" match in that the scene does appear very briefly, but one in which readers are promised something they never get is appalling! Glad the Amazon video made up for it. 🙂

  26. Yeepers, Laurie, this is a big ask. We're bombarded everyday by subtle and unsubtle media where we don't even see it anymore.

    As a kid(ish), I was always intrigued by Calgon commercials and when I grew old enough to buy bubble bath, it was my tip pick because I too wanted to be swept away to an island of relaxation. Lol.

    The last thing I remember buying where it was based off a blurb of sorts? Taylor Swifts The Tortured Poets Department. Lol. I just was so intrigued by what song would come out of that. She definitely thinks like a marketer...and catchy phrases that resonate and stick with you. To do this sort of thing well, you need to distill to the emotion you wish to draw people with and lure them back.

    1. Fran, I'd forgotten those "Take me away" ads -- I wonder how many people 15 years from now will be buying things whose ads they loved back in 2024? And you're right about Taylor Swift being fabulous with marketing; that's gotta be at least partly why she sells so incredibly well!

  27. An ad that almost made me buy the product advertised is the one where a woman steps from her house into her yard and starts flailing her arms around as though swatting at a massive swarm of gnats. It made me laugh because I know I've done the same dance when just one tiny thing flew near my face, so it was very relatable. I didn't buy magnetic screen 'doors' they were advertising, but the ad did make me consider that I might need to. Funny. Still makes me laugh.

    1. Debbie, thanks for reminding me of something important about blurbs -- it sure helps if you can make readers remember the name of the author or book (or both). I'm betting the screen door company DIDN'T do that, so if you wind up needing a new one next year they're out of luck. 🙁

  28. When I moved to Taos I was introduced to a non-profit called AIRE*. Their add featured a beaming young girl holding a tray of kale plants, inside the elementary school greenhouse. The copy was:

    For over 10 years, AIRE has connected Taos County’s students with local food in the garden, classroom, cafeteria and community while supporting our farmers and ranchers, cultivating a sustainable economy, and restoring our land.

    For $20 you can: provide a fresh produce box to a student

    For $50 you can: provide healthy, organic snacks and cooking lessons for two classrooms or 50 students

    For $100 you can: provide seeds and tools for a school garden for a growing season

    For $1,000 you can: sponsor a Taos High School intern for working in the High School’s new grow dome and high tunnel education program

    {I donated immediately!}

    *Agriculture Implementation Research & Education

    1. Paula, that's an amazingly good ad -- it's got ME wanting to donate, even without knowing any school kids in Taos! Their providing specifics on what they offer, and what your donation can offer, is a great way of introducing more prospective hot-buttons that'll grab readers.

  29. Those are some great points about what to include (or not mention in a blurb)! Also, I love how your structured this blog post. It made me want to keep reading until the end. 😀

  30. Oops! Forgot to mention an ad.

    The one that stuck with me is for a book by Alice Winters called, “The Hitman’s Guide to Making Friends and Finding Love” popped up on my Facebook page multiple times. Since the title made me laugh and then the blurb hooked me in, I had to pay the money and buy the book that second. And I haven’t been able to stop recommending it since. 😀

    1. Erin, I'm so glad you liked the structure -- you know what writers love to hear is "it kept me reading;" thank you! And thanks for mentioning the Alice Winters book; I definitely want to check that out...the title alone sounds great, and how cool to know the blurb lived up to it. 🙂

  31. Some of the long ago ads from my childhood have stayed with me for many decades. For example, Timex watches had a series of ads with trucks driving over the watches or plunging them into deep pools of water at a time when shockproof and waterproof wasn’t the norm for watches. Then the commercial showed the Timex still working perfectly, with the little second hand still going around, and proclaimed, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” When I was old enough for a watch, of course I got a Timex.

    1. Karen, I'm right there with you on choosing a Timex as my first watch...that was an amazing campaign, wasn't it? I'm not sure whether Timex is still in business, but they were sure a legend during the time we (and our parents and maybe even grandparents) were growing up!

      1. It sure was an amazing campaign, Laurie, and I kept thinking, with my kid’s perspective, maybe this time the watch got smashed or too waterlogged to work. An ad that made my dad laugh was for Sunkist pitted prunes - “ Today the pits, tomorrow the wrinkles.” Absurd, but the humor of the unexpected sells.

    2. Lol! I remember those ads too. That reminds me of some always loved: the Everready Bunny! How could you forget Mr. Clean? And how about M&M's claim to fame: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand!" Jingles and ads were exactly what 'hooked' housewives into purchasing the product. Blurbs can do the same if well-written. 🙂

  32. Great post! I have never been one for subscriptions, but I have one now for coffee beans, after trying a sample at Costco. (I'm addicted to Creme Brulee) It was limited time at Costco and they don't stock it normally. It gets delivered to my home regularly and it's the only coffee I drink now. Subscription is the ONLY way it is available so far.

    1. Alexsandra, now you've got me dying to try that Creme Brûlée flavor -- it sounds wonderful! I'm guessing the promotion mentioning its name, the limited availability and the opportunity to have it delivered was a huge factor in your decision to subscribe...they knew just what to hit.

      1. Yes Laurie I went to their web site and the pitch was something like You will never run out of your favourite coffee! The Creme Brulee beans I buy are made by Zavida coffee, about 2 hours from me here in Canada, although they do ship Stateside. So smooth and medium roast!

    1. Oh,Laurie, I've just seen this in your bio. The class must be here!

      Since then she’s taught online and live workshops including the one at groups.io/g/Blurb

  33. Blurbs are a challenge, that's for sure. Sometimes I think it's harder to write those few words than an entire chapter. Thanks for the tips!

    As for your question, the last ad that compelled me to make a purchase was for Britbox--snippets of several mystery series, some I remembered as good, some unfamiliar but intriguing "exclusives." I just had to subscribe.

    1. Deborah, isn't it amazing how much harder those 75 words (or even 150) can be compared to an entire 75,000-word novel? It's lucky that whoever crafted the Britbox ad had so many great series to draw from...although we could probably the say the same about our scenes!

  34. Great topic, Laurie. Recently, Facebook ads have actually lured me into a purchase -- everything from grout cleaner to make-up foundation. But it wasn't a slogan, so much as the video that hooked me. However, I still remember the slogans from the ads of my childhood: "It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature!" And oh how I wanted my Mom to buy Chiffon margarine.

    1. Nan, getting hooked by a video is one reason some authors use trailers -- there IS something inherently intriguing about movement on the screen! And, wow, I'd forgotten "it's not nice to fool Mother Nature, but you just brought it all back. Does your mom remember? 🙂

    1. Adite, if ever there was someone who could write a paper on blurbs, you'd be the ideal candidate...you've done 'em for more media than almost any other writer here, and have the selling experience to prove it! So if you ever do that, I'm gonna send writers your way. 🙂

  35. A friend was raising funds for Indiana NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness). The Facebook plea started with her desire to raise the funds because mental health is important to her. She volunteers for her local branch. Donors would receive one of her watercolor drawings. The plea worked both for her generosity, and she has supported me in my own fundraising.

    Thanks for your article,Laurie, and your own generosity in giving a registration away

    1. Shari, that’s a wonderful way of getting a response — what a nice thing for your friend to do! Putting resources into dear-to-the-heart causes can sure spread the desire to take caring actions.

  36. My friend calls me a Blurb Doctor, because I can clean up a blurb and fix it so it's exactly what she needs. I've done this for other people.

    Not bad at doing it for myself, too.

  37. Thanks, everyone who shared a memorable ad opening — or, heck, any observation about blurbs!

    I fed random dot org the total, and it picked 24…so congratulations to Jennifer L Tooker for winning free registration to the blurbs class starting two weeks from today.

    And if anyone has any more thoughts on blurbs, or pretty much anything else, feel free to post it here or contact me directly…I’m driving from close-to-Detroit to Knowlton, Quebec for. Louise Penny book site tour but will check in along the way. Fun stuff ahead!

  38. Laurie I loved this article! It's so timely too because I am in the process of writing my blurb for Kate's story 🙂

    I don't see a lot of print ads or commercials as much as I see social media influencers and their sponsored ads. One in particular is Callie Vinson. She is a long distance, or ultra, trail runner who lost over 200 lbs trail running. Because I used to trail run (er jog!) and recently got back into it, I follow her religiously to the point of anything she is wearing or using gear wise I check it out. I think the sponsors know this and have been successful using influencers versus (or in addition to) paid advertising. It works for Callie because she is very down-to-earth and shares her story honestly and vulnerably and people like me respond and respond with our $$.

    I am excited to take your new course!

    1. Cordia, you’re right — the writing involved in storytelling and advertising are so hugely different that it’s naturally kind of intimidating, especially for writers who are used to being GOOD at putting words together.

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