A book description or back cover blurb is the third-best promotion you have. (The first is name recognition, the second the cover.) The first two may get a reader to glance at your offering, but a good or bad blurb can make or break the sale.
I receive a number of ebook promotion emails like BookBuzz and Fussy Librarian, and some of the book blurbs have been so bad that I’ve started collecting them.
Here are a few with the author and book title removed to protect the incompetent. My comments in italics are beneath each one.
NOTE: To see how to write a good blurb, please read my article on the subject or do a search of my blog with the term “blurb” for links in my “Links of Interest” articles. To learn how to figure out your genre, clink on this.
In 2013, a gate to another world opened, and Elves used their magic to conquer Earth, crushing all resistance before them.
Three hundred years after the Conquest, the exiled Elven High Queen rules an orderly but stagnant Earth, with humanity forced to fight in the High Queen’s war against the traitors on the Elven homeworld.
This is worldbuilding information, not a blurb. Worldbuilding is static, a blurb should be about action. It should tell the reader the goal of the book and whose goal it is.
It was supposed to be a vacation, but instead reporter Rebekka Franck confronts her most baffling case yet. When a priest’s exorcism goes awry, Rebekka must pick up the pieces and discover the mystery behind an evil force. Rebekka and Sune are on a vacation in Northern Zeeland when they suddenly find themselves involved in what turns out to be their most horrifying case to this date…
A blurb should be lean. This one is full of redundancy. Plus, big hint: ellipsis periods don’t heighten the tension.
An antique dealer is killed for an artifact which has the potential to rewrite human history. With Griffin and Erik, Cassie is sent to hunt for clues.
This blurb lacks dynamic action with its bland verbs and passive verb structure for the main characters.
The well-meaning and meddlesome Mr. and Mrs. Aden want nothing more than to protect their only daughter, Hannah. After her childhood kidnapping in Somalia and a final showdown in Italy against the monster responsible, nineteen-year-old Hannah just wants back the life stolen from her. She isn’t naïve like her mother believes. Frequent flashes of past terrors assure her that the healing process is far from over. At the same time, she’d hardly use her dad’s words and call herself ''strong'' or ''brave.'' That description belongs to Melissa Bennett, the woman who almost died saving her.
Back story. Nothing but back story which doesn’t sell the book. It’s impossible to tell who the main character is in the book, either.
A massive solar storm erases the world's technological infrastructure and kills billions. While the remaining humans are struggling to adapt and survive, they notice that some among them have...changed.
This could describe dozens of standard dystopian novels. Go for the particular about the book, not the generic. Ellipsis periods don’t add tension here, either.
Years ago Seychelle Sullivan had the chance to save a person’s life. But on that summer night in Florida, lost in a world of teenage resentment and loneliness, Seychelle was not able to feel any pain but her own. Today Seychelle captains her father’s forty-six-foot salvage boat out of Fort Lauderdale’s New River. But she’s never escaped that one moment when she could have made a difference and didn’t.
And the suspense is? This might as well be a mainstream novel, or any other type of novel. No sense of conflict, plot, or danger. It’s emotional backstory.
To secure her father's salvation, Gitta must travel to the depths of hell, accompanied only by a sexy, irritable vampire...named Scott.
The end of the blurb should be the most interesting part showing the big conflict. Having a vampire named “Scott” isn’t even remotely a big conflict.
In a steampunk London that almost existed, where tinkerers and clockwork devices exist alongside handsome cabs and corsets, murder is still solved by traditional observation and intuition.
Historical fantasy is based on history, and a glaring error in your book blurb is a no-sale for many of us. (It’s “Hansom cab,” not “handsome cab.”)
Final Fantasy meets Agatha Christie in this fresh steampunk fantasy.
These are two genres I never thought to see together, because, well, they don’t belong together. It’s obvious this writer has never read any Agatha Christie which is a staid cozy or straight mystery that is the exact opposite of Final Fantasy, a roleplaying game that is mainly action/adventure. Before you make comparisons, make sure you know the two things you are comparing.
Little did businessman and entrepreneur Michael Rossi know that the telephone call he answered on that fateful Friday would be the catalyst for his death, and the subsequent recovery of his body from the waters of Sydney Harbour the following morning. Unaware of her nephew’s fate, Esme Timmons retires for the evening, unsuspecting of the events about to unfold; events that will, ultimately, expose a grim lie, buried deep in the past.
Two passive events where a character can do nothing do not make a book blurb. The mystery solver, not the victims, should be the focus of a blurb. If Esme is the main character, she’s presented passively.