Saturday, January 9, 2021

Thoughts on Blurbing by Jennifer J. Chow

One of the perks of being a writer at an imprint with a large publisher is the opportunity to receive advance reading copies (ARCs). Basically, I can ask my editor for Berkley books which are coming out soon and get free reads. (She has yet to deny me any request, and my literature-loving heart rejoices over that!)

Beyond the ARCs for my own pure enjoyment, a recent writerly duty I’ve discovered is the creation of author blurbs. It’s essentially a praise quote of someone else’s work. For example, I blurbed Olivia Blacke’s Killer Content cozy mystery (coming February 2021) and labeled it as an “immersive whodunit.” See entire quote below:

I find it hard to condense the great elements of a novel into a few expressive sentences. However, since I’ve done several of these now, I do have a few go-to tricks:


·         Genre: I try to reference the genre so readers know what they’re getting

·         Theme: Using the book’s themes, I like to create a matching quote

·         Characters: I often  refer to the protagonist or side characters to give people a sense of who they’ll be journeying with throughout the story

·         Heart: Since I have my own view of what I loved about the work, I insert my unfettered opinion on things that spoke specifically to me

·         Adjectives: To entice readers, I like adding in descriptors that tantalize them to purchase the novel

I’m no Gary Shteyngart, who has written numerous blurbs and even had a blurbing documentary about him. (He also blurbed himself on Twitter:
“Gary Shteyngart’s blurbs are touching, funny and true. This is a blurber to watch.” — Gary Shteyngart.) Despite my newness at blurbing, though, I have enjoyed taking on this authorly task.


Do blurbs affect your reading choices? If you wish, give an example of one that caught your eye.



  1. I never read blurbs. Which does not mean I don’t want them for my books because other people do use them. Everyone should keep in mind that they are advertisements.

  2. Excellent primer in how to blub!

    A blurb might entice me to scan reviews of a book to see if it is for me, but generally, I read them after I've made the purchase.

  3. @Jim: Excellent point about the advertising!

    @Kait: I think I'm the same way. They help me in justifying my purchase.

  4. I depend on personal recommendations, reviews, familiarity with authors and curiosity for my fiction reading. I don't usually read blurbs until after I have the book.

    That said, I understand the value of a blurb when your flight has been delayed and you're standing in an airport newshop, perusing the the books available.

  5. I'm with Kathleen--blubs have their uses ("a roller coaster plot perfect for a five hour plane trip") but I depend upon author interviews and blogs, recommendations from friends, and previous publications.

    Your tips will help me write short Goodreads and Amazon reviews.

  6. Thanks, KM & Margaret, for your thoughts!

  7. Great suggestions about blurbs. I found this very helpful.