REACHING YOUR READERS
We all have our reasons for writing. Reaching out to others, expressing truth in fiction, offering inspiration...and so much more. But what if nobody reads what we wrote?
Some writers don't care, because they're perfectly happy just getting the story down on paper and shoving it in a desk drawer. Yet other writers WANT their words to resonate with readers, which means they need readers to find their book.
How can you make that happen?
Getting published by a major publisher is one way. So is hiring a marketing director who will publicize your work. But if you're not working with a full-service publicity team, one of the biggest advantages you can give yourself is something relatively simple:
A great blurb.
That's what readers will see on your back cover. And on your website. They'll see it in your bio with articles, in newsletters from bookstores, in reviews posted near your release date, and -- perhaps most important -- they'll see it when they're browsing online for books.
What Blurbs Do
You've seen blurbs that made you think "I've gotta get that book!" You've also seen blurbs that made you think "Nope, not what I want" and others that make you think "Hmm...keep browsing."
So how can you write a blurb that makes everyone think "I've gotta get that book!"?
The fact is, you can't. No matter how great your book, it's not going to thrill every reader in the world. Someone seeking a cookbook doesn't want a story about fly fishing. Someone who wants a thriller won't be satisfied with women's fiction. Someone shopping for first-graders doesn't want a romance novel.
That's okay. You don't care about those readers.
The readers you want already know what they're looking for...and it's the kind of book you write.
Creating Your Blurb
Some writers have an easier time creating a 60,000-word manuscript than a 60-word blurb. Or 30 words, or 150, or whatever length you decide on -- and by the way, it's good to have different lengths available for different uses.
I used to think I was incredibly gifted because I had a much easier time writing blurbs than manuscripts, until I discovered my gift wasn't actually a special talent. It was from my day-job experience of writing ads.
Because, really, your blurb is an ad for your book. You've noticed how the headline of an ad either draws you in or makes you turn the page, right? The first line of your blurb is exactly the same way.
Websites that track the eye movement of people reading them (and I have no idea how they do it!) found that readers who aren't captured within the first eight seconds are lost.
And how do you choose those words? This is where it helps to think like an advertising copywriter.
The Advertising Basics
* Know what your audience wants. If you're not sure, ask them.
* Know what YOUR book offers that readers won't necessarily get in ANOTHER book they might also enjoy. If you're not sure, read others like your own.
Yes, you'll want different blurbs. Everyone browsing Amazon might see the same one, just like everyone reading the publisher's catalog will see the same one, but if you're indie-publishing you can change it as often as you like. You can even do test-marketing to see what works best.
Before you start testing, though, try writing half a dozen blurbs of (for instance) 30 words apiece. See which points you keep using. Odds are good that those reflect your opinion of what's most special about the book.
Then run those samples by people who know your book. Do they feel like you've left out something vital? What is it?
Which Leads To...
If you want some other tips on creating a blurb that'll attract readers, you could win free registration to August's yahoogroups class on "Blurbing Your Book" just by leaving a comment before tonight's prize drawing.
And since I'd love to get some comments I can quote during that class, here's my question for you:
When you're browsing for a book -- not one you've already chosen because you love that author / topic, but when you don't have any particular book in mind and just want to view some possibilities -- what do you do?
I can't wait to find out!
You can get Laurie's book Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams on her website: www.BookLaurie.com or on Amazon.