Writing a blurb is hard.

This is because, having spent months, perhaps years, with a book, a book that has become your baby, boiling it down to a handful of sentences to go on the back cover is really horrible.

In the past, I hired a woman to write my blurb for me. To be fair, she did a lovely job. I was chuffed to bits. But it is a useful skill, to be able to write a quick, compelling blurb.

Please note: the blurb is different from the synopsis.

The blurb should be short, a couple of hundred words is enough. You don’t really want it much bigger than that because it’s got to fit on the back cover and too much writing on the back cover means small print and people lose interest with a big block of words. The blurb should introduce the main character, explore a little of their struggle/story and then plant a seed of hope or intrigue – or both, if you have room.

A synopsis can be pages long. This is the thing your agent will send, along with sample chapters probably, to potential publishers. The synopsis should cover every beat of the story. It’s not a taster, it’s like the cheat-sheet notes we used to get in school.

It turns out, probably due to the number of book reviews I’ve written now, summarising character and story, that writing a blurb is something that can be honed over time. It’s only happened a handful of times, but there have been occasions when other authors have told me that, in my review, I’ve written a better blurb than they have. I don’t say this to brag. Sometimes, it’s just easier when you have a bit of distance. It’s much harder to accomplish when they’re your books you’re trying to show off.

However, my advice is this: don’t write it down. Tell yourself what the story is about, as if you’re talking to your drunkest, but most interested, friend. If it helps, give him a name. The point is, because he’s drunk, you’re going to have to explain the book a bit, using catchable words, but he’s not a child, so you don’t have to explain every little thing. It’s a trick I use. If it works for you too, good-oh.

Most importantly: People who are looking at your book want to read something. Don’t talk them out of it. Don’t play down what you’ve written. Be enthusiastic but gentle, as you would be with a drunk pal.