What’s Harder for You to Create: A Book Title or A Book Blurb?

Insecure Writers Want to Know

Hello and welcome to my new website! I’m so glad you’re here. Please look around and tell me what you think. I have a new sign-up for my newsletter and blog posts. Please feel free to sign up here. Thank you so much!

I’m very excited to be co-hosting the Insecure Writers Support Group’s question this month. I’d like to thank my fellow co-hosts for November: Kim Lajevardi, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery! Please visit them if you can.    

The most difficult thing for me to create would be the blurb for my own book because I’m too close to the story. I think everything is important enough to be included in the blurb. Of course, that’s not true. Book blurbs need to be concise. Pithy. And exciting.

Here’s my first stab at a book blurb for my college memoir:

Victoria’s a mother who won’t let those in education hold her daughter back, learning disability or not. But to help her daughter, she needs to face her own fear. Can a mother of five survive college when she was told she wasn’t smart enough? It’s time to take the challenge. 

50 words. Too wordy for a blurb? Language isn’t sharp enough? Emotion there? Please offer comments.

I decided to look up “book blurb” online.

A Book Blurb is a short, descriptive account of the book that goes on the back cover. A book blurb should include information that represents the book best and intrigues the readers.

The Chicken Sisters book blurb
This is KJ Dell’Antonia’s blurb for her great novel The Chicken Sisters.

The definition got me thinking about loglines and taglines. When I researched online about these pitching tools for fiction or memoir, I gleaned the following definitions from blogs and webinars at writerly sites:

A Logline gives the gist of your book in a sentence. It tells something about the main character, the conflict, and the stakes. So, the WHO, the WHAT, and the WHY of your story.

A Tagline is a catchphrase that sucks the reader in. It’s the idea behind your book. Also known as the hook. The tagline’s job is to evoke emotion.

According to Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator, a pitch or logline is one line that gives some sense of the character arc of change; who they are, what the plot is, and where the plot goes.

Okay, so how do we do it? I found some questions that are helpful to answer when creating a logline and/or a tagline. So I answered them.

WHO is your main character? Victoria, a mother of 5 young children       

WHERE does the story take place?  South Jersey home and college campuses     

WHAT is the situation?      Victoria tries to allow her special needs daughter Marie a chance at living her dream of attending college, but they are told Marie would never succeed.

WHY does it matter?     Victoria was told the same thing when she wanted to attend college.   

HOW does the character solve the problem?    By swallowing her own fear of failure and beginning college herself first.

Now that we know who, where, what, why, and how, we condense it into what we as writers hope is a pithy logline.

“A South Jersey mom of five gives her special needs daughter the opportunity of college by swallowing her own fear of failure and beginning college first.”

Does it work?

I think there’s an arc of change in the protagonist, the mom, from a paralyzing fear of failure to actually beginning college.

We know what happens; Victoria’s going to attempt college.

And we know why it matters to her; Victoria doesn’t want her daughter held back from attempting her dream as she was.

Of course, the story is much more involved than just these few pieces, but does it make someone want to read the whole book?

The tagline, the idea behind the book, according to our definition, the hook. The tagline sounds a lot like the book blurb. What do you think? It’s supposed to evoke emotion. I came up with many, but here are two I’ll share for your comment.

A parent faces her fears of college to help her children.

A mother finds permission within herself to begin a difficult journey.

What are your thoughts on these? Do they evoke emotion? Does finding permission within oneself sound more personal? Can other people [readers] relate easier to it? Is finding permission more original?

These are necessary questions for all writers to consider as they try to condense their stories into pithy loglines and taglines or blurbs.

*Please feel free to offer any insight or ask any questions regarding the details of my college memoir logline or taglines. It would be truly appreciated.* 

Has anyone prepared a logline or tagline/book blurb for their story? I’m interested in how you came to condense your story into a sentence or two. Please share any tips you may have about loglines or taglines/blurbs in the comments section of Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much!

It will be interesting to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s wonderful having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing journey.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Our group posts on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE

49 thoughts on “What’s Harder for You to Create: A Book Title or A Book Blurb?”

  1. I like the first tagline best.
    Blurbs are tough. I go back and forth with my publisher many times perfecting the back cover blurb. I get 120 words or less. Sometimes it’s a challenge.
    Thanks for co-hosting!

    Reply
  2. Blurbs are definitely tough, but I think you’ve cracked it with your fifty word one.
    The trouble with working through all those steps is that the formula makes every book sound the same, and I read the backs of books written with them and put them back in disgust. They’re so boring!
    Thanks for hosting this month, although the link sends us to your old site, and then it’s not obvious on your landing page where your blog posts are. But if I found you, everybody else will!

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      • Is that good, Jemima? I’m still trying to get my website to work the way I want it to.

        I told Alex the link he sent was the wrong one. I didn’t know how to fix it. The link on the IWSG page is correct and leads to my new website. So sorry you had troubles with my landing page and finding my blog.

        Thank you so much for your input on my blurb. Truly appreciate it! All best to you!

        Reply
  3. Thanks for breaking up how to write a book blurb. I think you’ve done a good job writing yours. Jemima, you have a point – formulaic book blurbs do make the random browser in a book shop want to run for the hills.
    Also, I had quite a job finding your IWSG post because the link goes to your old blog, leaving one puzzled.
    Thanks for co-hosting though.

    Reply
  4. Love the new site! Blurbs are tricky things — I write dark fantasy, so I tend to start with something provocative in bigger/bolder font than the rest of the blurb which stands alone at the top, then I add a bit of what it’s about, and end with a question and a CTA (scroll up and buy now to find out!). It works for me. So personally, I’d add something provocative at the start of your blurb in bold, in it’s own paragraph, something like: Being a mother is a full-time job. Add higher education into the mix… (then add your blurb, putting the question part of it in a new paragraph).
    Hope it helps!
    Ronel visiting for IWSG day That’s a Wrap! An Author’s Year in Review

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words, Ronel. I need to hear them. Thank you so much for your suggestions on my blurb. Truly great ideas to add. I’ll try it. Thanks for sharing your advice here at Adventures in Writing. It’s appreciated!

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  5. This is a good breakdown of the process. Like Jemima said, it’s hard to create a blurb that does what it’s meant to do while seeming distinctive and original. I mentioned on my blog that you need to have something distinctive about your book in the first place (there are a lot of formulaic books out there unfortunately). Then hopefully you can boil down to that distinctive thing and highlight it.

    I like the first tagline better because it mentions the essential details – helping her children and starting college. The second one doesn’t give us details.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for this, Nick. Seriously, I really appreciate all this insight on my book blurb. You make a relevant point. What makes our book stand out from the rest?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here at Adventures in Writing. All best to you, sir.

      Reply
  6. Here’s my stab at it:
    Victoria won’t let the education system hold her daughter back, learning disability or not. But to help her, she must join her, which means facing her own fear. Can a mother of five survive college after being told she wasn’t smart enough?

    Thanks for co-hosting. 🙂

    Reply
  7. I like the first tagline best. It’s more specific. The second one is too vague. I like the logline, too. It tells me what the book is going to be about, and what kind of problems the mother will face, without being too long.

    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!

    Reply
  8. You’ve succinctly laid out exactly why I find blurbs difficult to write. I like your first blurb – it gives the reader a sense of character, conflict, and goal.

    Thanks for co-hosting today!

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    • Truly appreciate your kind words, Lee. And thanks for offering your opinion as to which tagline is better and why. The why helps me to understand. All best to you!

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  9. Sorry I’m late, Victoria, I couldn’t get through before now. Troubles with my internet. I like the first one. It gave me a mental image of Victoria, her strengths, determination, and all the fear that comes with being a mum. I felt for her. Thanks for co-hosting. Happy IWSG day.

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  10. Hi, Victoria! Thanks for co-hosting today. I like the 50-word-blurb at the beginning of your post. What a wonderful topic for a memoir! I’ve known a number of people with learning disabilities who have gone on to succeed at college. Your daughter is fortunate to have a mother who will inspire her with courage and determination. When your memoir is published, please let me know. I’d love to learn how the story turns out!

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    • Thank you so very much, Louise, for your kind words. They mean so much to me. I will certainly let you know when my memoir is out. Thanks for asking. Enjoy your day!

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  11. I think you did very well breaking down the process of writing a blurb. You clarified some things for me that I had not previously considered. Maybe the next time I attempt writing a blurb it will come easier for me. If I ever have the occasion to try and write one again.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  12. Thank you for co-hosting this month Victoria and all the very helpful tips on planning, titles and plotting. Beautiful layout to your new website.

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  13. Blurbs are the worst, but you’ve really broken down the process well! I’m personally slogging through the process of writing the synopsis for my novel, and it’s incredibly difficult. Thanks for co-hosting this month!

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    • First, bravo to you, Abby, to be at the point of “slogging through” your synopsis. Can’t wait to get there. I’m close. I hope! And yes! Synopses are “incredibly difficult.” All the luck with yours!

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  14. That’s a lot of questions and a lot to ponder. As you know, I’ve gone through all this myself and finding the answers is incredibly difficult, time consuming, and often temporary as you want to keep improving things.

    I think your blurb is too short. If there is such a thing. 🙂 It is also not completely obvious to me that Victoria will be attempting college first. Maybe an extra word in that sentence to stress this fact is helpful?

    The logline is great and works well – one sentence that gives us all we need to know about the story.

    Your two taglines do not offer me enough information as a reader. It’s not clear to me that Victoria will attend college first to prove a point or battle her fears. You can read that in the tagline only if you already know the story.

    I know you became a member of the WLM Facebook group. We have a WLM Author group as well. It is another great research for help and to get questions like these answered. People post blurbs, different titles, cover ideas, etc and the members will provide insights or “vote” for the best one. It’s great.

    There’s also a WLM beta readers group that you might find helpful. I’m not a member of that one and didn’t know of its existence when I was creating Plunge.

    Thanks for co-hosting and have a wonderful weekend!

    Reply
  15. Oh my gosh, Liesbet! Thank you so much for sharing this insight with me. I didn’t know WLM has an Author group or beta readers. I’ll need to check it out.

    I appreciate your opinion on my tagline, logline, and book blurb. All this insight is helpful. Have a beautiful weekend!

    Reply
  16. Yes it is, Samantha! Somehow, we need to come up with a tiny, exciting summary of the book to entice readers to want to join the protagonist on the journey. Yikes! Have a beautiful week.

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  17. I love writing Blurbs. Honestly, they’re often the first thing I write and are built around what intrigued me to write the story in the first place. Sure, it will get tweaked and shopped at the end to make sure it works for the genre, audience, and is still true to the story I ended up writing. But titles plague me so much. All through a story I will search for a clever moment or idea to tie to the title. Once I get into a series groove, titles tend to get easier for me. But yeah….

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    • Good for you, Heidi, for possessing the insight of what the story will be about. Bravo! And you are right. The blurb will need tweaking after the story is complete to be sure the blurb reflects the true story. Titles are tough, too. Being on the lookout for them as you write is a great idea. Thanks for the tip. All best to you!

      Reply
    • My pleasure. I always try to offer writing tips I discover with my posts for IWSG. I’m so glad you are here at Adventures in Writing. Thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot. Have a beautiful Sunday!

      Reply

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