The Marketeers Club: Book Blurbs and You; Or How to Write a Blurb that is Useful

Rosemary Vestal is the publicity manager for UNP and her writing has been called”influential” and “a must read.”

What makes someone want to read a book? A review, the cover design, peer suggestions, Amazon rankings, bestseller listing in the New York Times, Goodreads find, description, author reputation, publisher imprint?

For argument’s sake, let’s say none of that matters. NONE OF IT. Blurbs are the only things that make people want to read books.

In the book “building” process, every stage is contingent on word placement. All publishing decisions are made based on the words that are given to us. The house decides to publish a book based on a written proposal, that proposal dictates what the editor presents to the house at pre-production stage; the production-stage memo provides marketing the language to sell the final book. Words instigate everything we do in publishing.

Coming to an understanding that words rule our lives, we need to place more importance on the words we choose from others to endorse our books. Most often, gracious individuals provide eloquently crafted short descriptions of the books they have been asked to endorse. And, sometimes, when we receive long-winded blurbs, I want to ask the endorser if they would write our cover copy because they may actually be able to do so; they’ve already started.

As the publisher (the word-enthusiast prima donnas that we are) we can appreciate a well-structured endorsement of one of our books.

As marketers (the selling-scheming book nerds that we are) we can appreciate someone’s willingness to endorse one of our books. When you think about it, it’s quite lovely that someone would take the time to write anything without being offered an honorarium.

On the other hand, that’s our job. We are the ones who create the cover copy and short descriptions for the audience. Not the other way around. We have to conceive the cover copy, marketing copy, one-liners, author bios, and all the wordy word descriptions that tell the audience what the book is about. Endorsements are the words that supplement the initial description with the “why and wow,” motivating people to purchase the book.

There is a reason why we initially ask for a maximum word count for blurbs. We need people to say “Buy this book!” because we can only use certain words without the fear of sounding desperate and possibly needy. We need other people to say “Best Book I’ve Ever Read!” and “Life Changing Narrative!” in so many words, of course, because otherwise we lose credibility. We don’t need them to retell the story.

The endorsers are a crucial part of our publishing process and marketing narrative. It gives us an extra edge, an additional adage, a final wise word on why someone should buy a book. Endorsers’ words are what make our jobs easier.

After all, words are what make the book.


*By her mother.

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