The Power Of A Strong Book Cover Blurb

Sometimes Island book cover blurb

From enticing teasers to critical affirmation, a book cover blurb can persuade readers to check out and buy your book and can serve to promote your title and your author platform for years to come.

There are several reasons why most traditionally published novels you pick up have a blurb prominently featured on the front or back cover. The addition of a strong book cover blurb — an endorsement by a person of note (a well-known author or expert) or an excerpt from a professional book review — immediately establishes a perceived level of quality and value.

If Stephen King or John Grisham liked this novel enough to endorse it, chances are good you’ll love it too, right? The same goes for a starred review in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, or any publication or website of note. Not every release gets starred reviews, so it stands to reason that the novel with the glowing excerpt on the cover must be an extraordinary read.

Teaser

Solomon Bull book cover blurbA strong book cover blurb can serve as a teaser for potential readers, giving them a little taste of what’s in store if they purchase the novel. Clayton Lindemuth’s Solomon Bull is a perfect example of a self-published novel that utilizes a blurb masterfully. The copy on the cover — an excerpt from a BlueInk review — succeeds in both establishing quality and piquing reader interest.

“A virile tale about a tough-as-nails Blackfoot Indian… a roaming badass… a well-crafted, solid thriller.”

And if I’m being completely honest, book covers with blurbs just look better, they look more polished and professional. A novel without a blurb on the front or back cover seems naked to me — unfinished.

Stand out

I’ve been reviewing self-published titles for almost 30 years and I can say that, while the vast majority of self-published releases don’t have blurbs, I’m seeing an increasing number that do — particularly nonfiction releases. And it makes a difference. Book covers with blurbs stand out when compared to “naked” covers. They’re immediately more eye-catching and interesting, at least to me. That sense of perceived quality is definitely real.

Here are just a few examples of indie authors who have been savvy enough to seek out strong blurbs to feature on their front or back covers. You’ll notice that the Semegran cover has not one, but four killer blurbs on the back cover!

Sometimes Island book cover blurbThe Benevolent Lords of Sometimes Island by Scott Semegran

“A genuine, moving and irresistible meditation on the value of friendship.” —BlueInk Review (Starred Review)

“A fantastic coming-of-age thriller.” —IndieReader (IR Approved)

“An absorbing, nostalgic, and polished story.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Highly accomplished and well-crafted read… a modern classic.” —Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews [5 stars]

City O fGrudges book cover blurbCity of Grudges by Rick Outzen

City of Grudges captures my hometown of Pensacola, Florida, much the same way Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil immortalized Savannah.” —Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former congressman (R-FL)

Whos There book cover blurbWho’s There? A Collection of Stories by Dimas Rio

“Dark stories that entrance and unnerve.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Unsettling, suspenseful stories (with) evocative writing.” —BlueInk Review

“The stories hum with life. An original and powerful collection.” —Self-Publishing Review

Velocity Mindset book cover blurbThe Velocity Mindset by Ron Karr

“An extraordinary roadmap for leadership with a fresh, practical, and motivational perspective.” —Jay Baer, New York Times best-selling author of Youtility

No Blanks book cover blurbNo Blanks, No Pauses by Shelly McNamara

“Weaving her life story with beautiful poetry, Shelly McNamara encourages all of us to think deeply about the direction of our lives and the relationships that count.” —Katie Couric

Lifelong Fight book cover blurbMy Lifelong Fight Against Disease: From Polio and AIDS to COVID-19 by William A. Haseltine, PhD

“Place this book at the top of your list. You will be inspired to make an impact on the world, with a remarkable guide to help show you the path.” —Sanjay Gupta, MD, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Emory; Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN

Sales Boost

So, let’s say you have a catchy blurb from a well-known person or a professional review site that persuades readers to pick up and read your novel. What does this ultimately mean? According to Scribe Media co-founder Tucker Max, a good blurb can increase a book’s sales between 5–10 percent. And while this isn’t an exactly jaw-dropping rise, it’s a nice boost from just a few sentences on the cover of your novel.

Does a strong book cover blurb guarantee a good read? Of course not. But, again, that perceived quality and value can mean the difference between a potential reader purchasing your release or choosing another title. That one blurb has offered you the golden opportunity to sell more books and reach more readers.

Promotional Vehicle

Here’s the real beauty of book cover blurbs: not only can you use them on front and back covers to boost interest and (ideally) sales, these blurbs can be used for self-promotion. I’ve seen blurbs all over author websites, on Amazon/Goodreads title pages, even in emails as signatures. And if a blurb or review excerpt focuses on the author and not a particular title, that author can now use that blurb indefinitely.

A great example of this came back in 2018, when NPR reviewed Lavie Tidhar’s Unholy Land. The (glowing) review included the line: “Lavie Tidhar is a genius at conjuring realities that are just two steps to the left of our own — places that look and smell and feel real, if just a bit hauntingly alien.” Since then, I’ve seen the shortened blurb (“Tidhar is a genius.” —NPR) in numerous places. It’s the absolute perfect blurb — and Tidhar can, if he chooses, use it in any future promotional material he wants.

The reality, unfortunately, is that blurbs can be extremely hard to come by, with much depending on timing, who you are, and how extensive your professional and/or social network is. Review excerpts are easy enough if your release happens to get positive reviews on sites like Publishers Weekly or BlueInk, but landing a big-name author can be a virtually impossible task, especially to a self-published author with very few connections.

Can your novel be commercially successful without a book cover blurb? Of course. But if you want to give your release every chance to succeed in a brutally competitive market, securing a strong blurb is something to consider.

This post first appeared on the BlueInk Review blog. Reprinted with permission.

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1 COMMENT

  1. So how CAN a self-published author with very few connections get a well-known author, screenwriter, performer, or expert in a related field to read and (one hopes) offer even a positive statement, if not a glowing review? Thanks.

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