In Defence of Long Blurbs

In another topic on here, In Defence of Short Blurbs, we discuss short blurbs. Now, let’s examine longer ones. A rule of thumb for a book blurb is 120 to 200 words, the length which fits comfortably on a back cover. It should include:

  • names and sketches of the main characters;
  • an idea of the setting;
  • a hint of the plot and the conflicts;
  • mystery or questions to intrigue the reader; and
  • words — possibly even hyperbole — to evoke strong images.

To draw the reader in and to hold their attention, it makes sense to use the concept of the elevator pitch for the first paragraph. This conveys the essence of the story while the following text adds substance.

Readers often shy away from beginning a long paragraph, so write a few short ones, each intriguing further.

Here is an example of one on which I am still working. Suggestions for improvement are welcome:

Set in an environment of extreme wealth in contemporary London, this is a story of tender new love trying to flourish while a tragic past conspires to destroy. As Valentine’s Day approaches, two lonely people begin breaking out of their social shells.

Valerie has been celibate since she was raped and had her reputation smeared. From nothing, she’s rebuilt her life, and she now concentrates on three things; running her corporate empire, guiding her inquisitive daughter through puberty, and volunteering in the community.

Lorne is still grieving a fiancée who died in his arms, but when he meets Valerie in a down-and-out soup kitchen, desires stir. Unaware of her identity, he takes a bold step and invites her to Valentine’s Day dinner.

Their relationship escalates with blinding speed and all the comforts of a billionaire lifestyle, but the bliss is interrupted when pornographic photos of Valerie flood the internet. She wants to crawl back into her shell. What does Lorne want?

Short is easier, it grabs your attention but does it keeps it?

I agree that a blurb should never be 5 pages long, then it stops being a blurb. But what if there are things in the story that draw readers… that you can’t fit in the small blurb. Is adding 100 words allowed if that gives you a bit more space to work with?

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Unless they are superbly conceived and written, short blurbs can be ineffective. Generally, effective blurbs are 100 to 150 words in length, but — and this is a big but — they need to hook the reader in the first 30 to 50 words. Everything written beyond that needs to sink the hook deeper, otherwise, they are not only wasted, but damaging.

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I’m a sucker for the long ones. Especially the ones at around 150-250 words - which is a pretty standard number for the genre I write in (Fantasy). They’re also the ones that have proved to work the best for me in terms of attracting readers on Wattpad.

It’s also what draws me more to books I wanna read. I just can’t seem to get into really short blurbs, so I’m super glad you made this thread! :smile:

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Yes, I can see with Fantasy the need for more words to construct an image of the ‘world’ and its ‘denizens’ in the readers’ minds.

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Yeah exactly. You kind of have to introduce maybe several races, countries, religions, magical rules etc. etc.

So yay, long blurbs!

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I’m definitely a big fan of long blurbs. Short just doesn’t pull me in. I need to know the MC and the stakes. Short can’t always do that for me. Most of the time they’re just too vague for my liking. But I also don’t advocate super long blurbs. I shoot for 250 words or less. I have a couple that go over that 250 but they never go over 300.

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Publishers want 100 to 150 words so the blurb fits on the back cover without the reader needing to squint. But, if the aim is not being published in print, fill your boots. Just don’t scare away potential readers with long-windedness.

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Another point to consider is how blurbs are shown on Wattpad. On the user page, only the first 214 characters are shown. On the Hot List, only the first 167 appear, and in the search results, only the first 160. These counts all include punctuation and spaces.

For discoverability, it makes sense to give a flavour of the story in the first 160 characters. That is generally 25 to 30 words, and that is all skimmers will see when searching the lists.

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That is just it, many stories can function very well with 50-150 words. But if you do science fiction, fantasy or something where theming and taste matters adding those to the longer blurb version at least gives buyers/readers insight that they are about to enter a magical world.

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Not being among the readers of these genres, I have no experience, but I suspect experienced readers of these know the blurbs will be long and detailed.

Ah I see what you mean with Industry Standards. Yeah, it sucks if you are limited because of that but you gotta do what you gotta do to be published.

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You could put a pop-up booklet on the back cover to contain the overflow text. :sunglasses::roll_eyes:

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See, I’ve heard something else completely. I’ve heard that 150-250 is what the standard for publishers.

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Yes, but that includes the author’s bio.

I’ve never heard of that. I’ve only heard that the blurb (and only the blurb) is at the aforementioned number. Even most of the sources (like “how to write a blurb” help sites) I’ve looked at and examples of newly published books use around 150-250 words separated into 3-4 paragraphs. And that’s not even just Fantasy. That’s books on Amazon and printed books alike. :woman_shrugging:

My publisher requests 130 to 150 words for the blurb and the same for the bio.

Huh, I guess it varies then?

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Here is a blog entry from one of the most respected authorities. Her guest writer says 150 to 200 and explains why.

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I guess we were both half right there then :joy:

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