Since we started our romance novel blurb help services here at Romance Rehab, we’ve noticed some disturbing patterns that need to be addressed. Like, now. If you’re guilty of any of these sins, we suggest you get thee to your KDP dashboard and make some changes posthaste, because these are things that would DEFINITELY keep us (and probably many other romance super readers) from 1-clicking.
Character name salad
We get it. You created all the characters in your book and they’re like your children--you love them unconditionally. But that doesn’t mean that your heroine’s third cousin Sheila, who is admittedly totally hilarious, deserves a place in your romance blurb. In a romance, unless it’s a love triangle romance, there should really only be two named characters in your blurb: the hero, and the heroine. Everyone else is important to your story, sure, but not important enough to be in your blurb. Besides, including too many character names is confusing for readers, and confused readers don’t 1-click. They just move on to another book.
That’s a synopsis, not a blurb
Some authors use the terms “synopsis” and “blurb” interchangeably. As the great Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake! Huge!” A synopsis is a brief plot outline that also includes character info. Agents and editors will sometimes ask to see a synopsis before deciding if they want to read your book. The synopsis is basically just a series of events in your book, along with some info about who your main characters are. A blurb, on the other hand, is marketing copy that is designed to sell your book. Blurbs entice readers to 1-click. Blurbs make you feel something while a synopsis just tells you what happens. Blurbs need to include:
If you’re including way more info than those 3 things, chances are you’ve written a synopsis, not a blurb, and that will definitely cost you book sales.
But...what’s the book about?
I can’t tell you how many blurbs I’ve read that go on for 150 words about what the hero and heroine look like, but don’t tell me the main conflict of the book. I’m not going to buy a book because the hero has green, smoldering eyes, a lean-but-athletic build, and a scar bisecting one eyebrow. In other words, don’t load your blurbs with a bunch of irrelevant detail. Stick to main characters, conflict, and stakes.
It’s 892 words...is that too many?
If your blurb is 892 words long...ABORT! ABORT!! RED ALERT!! That’s way too long! You only have a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention, and if your blurb is long-winded and meandering, they’ll move on without 1-clicking. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how long your blurbs should be, but the shorter the better. I’ve seen great blurbs that contain up to about 250 words. Any longer than that and I’d be a little concerned that the book is long-winded and meandering, too.
Your blurb is the best place to let your creativity shine--to give potential readers a taste of your unique writing voice. Nothing shoots creativity in the foot quite like a cliche. Cliches should be avoided like the plague. (Ha! See what I did there? I told you to avoid cliches by USING a cliche. Heh? *clears throat, ashamed of self* But I digress…) Just for the record, here are a few cliches that are automatic “nopes” for me:
And while it’s not really a cliche, I also find “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry” to be terribly off-putting. It’s an overused phrase, particularly in romance and women’s fiction, and I don’t enjoy being told how something is going to make me feel. No one is the boss of me.
No one cares about your awards
I realize this sounds harsh, and I don’t want to belittle your accomplishments. But unless you are a USA Today, Wall Street Journal, or NYT bestseller, no one cares. Again, YES, being an Amazon bestselling author is a big deal and you should be proud of that. But it’s not going to help you sell books. Neither are any other awards that no one’s heard of. Unless you’ve won the RITA, it’s not worth mentioning in your blurb. (Sorry. I realize how elitist that sounds. It’s just a sad fact.) And even if you HAVE won the RITA, put that at the end of your blurb, not upfront.
Everyone is human and typos happen. We get it. But if your blurb is riddled with typos and grammar errors, people will assume your book is too, and they’ll skip it.
“If you like Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and James Patterson, then you’ll love THIS book.” First of all, that list of authors pretty much covers EVERY reader in the world, which trips my bullshit meter. It’s also a HUGE claim. I understand that some publishers and agents will tell you that targeting other authors in your blurb will help you sell books. But what it also sets you up for is unflattering reviews from Ms. Roberts’ super fans who will argue TO THE DEATH that no one is as good as Ms. Nora. In general, if a claim is being made, as a reader, I’d much rather it come from a reviewer than an author. In other words, if you have a review that calls you the next Nora Roberts, then by all means, feel free to quote that in your blurb (or tattoo it on your chest...whatever floats your boat). But when an author favorably compares themselves to another author--especially a huge bestseller--it just comes across as...smarmy, and I don’t 1-click if I think an author is smarmy.
A fiction novel
All novels are fiction. Don’t make a fool of yourself. That WILL come back to bite you in the ass in the form of a book that doesn’t sell.
Anything y’all would like to add? Have any questions? Let’s discuss!
And in case we’ve terrified you and you’re now too nervous to revise your blurb for fear of making a huge mistake, I feel compelled to let you know we do offer romance novel blurb help services and we’re happy to help you polish your existing blurb and jam it full of keywords for you. (And sorry we scared you...that wasn’t the intent. We’re just passionate about blurbs!)
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