This goes hand-in-hand with editing – your book blurb should tell the potential reader what the book is about.
Simple. That’s all it does. It’s supposed to make someone want to read your book. Why is it so hard?
I’ll tell you: because you’ve just spent a significant amount of time writing 80K words, more or less, and you’re excited about your novel, and your characters, and the plot, and…. So, yes, it’s hard to boil it down into 3-4 paragraphs. Short ones, no less.
You might have a favorite character, or scene, and you want people to know about it – but try to remember that you’re writing for a lot of people, different folks who like different things. Most readers want to know about the ENTIRE book, so you have to write a brief overview. Remember, back in school, when you had to write a report? Introduction, body, conclusion.
The book blurb is the intro to your novel. See, it’s simple. Compare non-fiction to fiction for just a moment:
An intro to a non-fiction report will say something along the lines of “first, this, then that, then it ends like this,” and the body of that report will detail this information. The conclusion sums it all up.
For fiction, the blurb is your intro but you don’t want to give away the entire story, and certainly not the ending. You would say something like “first this happens, and then this” and leave the reader hanging just a bit. Or end it with a question; the reader has to read the book in order to answer that question.
In other words, the book blurb is not an outline of your entire novel – it’s just a taste, a teaser. Think of movie previews you’ve seen. They show you some of the action, and emotion, but certainly not all. You see that preview, that trailer, and you think, “Wow, that looks good! I want to see it!”
Potential readers do the same thing. Think of your main points, the very basis of your story. You should be able to sum it up in a few sentences, for example:
The goverment screws up. Some people have made plans, just in case things go wrong. They struggle to survive.
Then use your big-boy or big-girl words and expand on that, just a little, just to pique the reader’s interest.
But, for heaven’s sake, don’t overthink it either – just like editing, you can work and work on the book blurb and spend inordinate amounts of time making it “perfect” and delay that book release. Remember when you started your novel? You probably changed directions a few times, rethought some plot lines; same thing with the blurb. Work, set it aside, make the changes, and go for it!