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Following up on a blurb writing tip


Myth Weaver
As I get closer to launching my book, I’m reading a lot about marketing. I don’t plan to spend a ton of time on it since it will be my only book out, but I want to make sure that I don’t miss anything that’s a good use of my time.

One great tip I got from the link Mythopoet posted in another thread: your best bet regarding your blurb is to make it as similar as possible to the blurbs of the bestselling books in your genre.

How cool an idea is that? Since I suck at blurb writing, having a template can only be a good thing. I wonder what we can learn from the blurbs of the top 5 bestselling epic fantasy books right now (Note — I excluded blurbs from multiple books in the same series):

1. Game of Thrones fans will love the New York Times bestselling Abhorsen series. Sabriel, the first installment in the trilogy, launched critically acclaimed author Garth Nix onto the fantasy scene as a rising star.

Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . . .

2. Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

3. "The writing style is tight, the phrases are masculine and do not come across as flowery"

"the kind of epic depth that I have longed to find"

"a fantasy world that draws the reader in” - Walter Rhein, author of The Reader of Acheron

The people of An Innis have fallen on hard times. Vengeful thieves, rumored to be men returned from death, have brought the island to its knees. Using a fleet of captured ships, they systematically plunder everything that enters or attempts to leave the coastal waters that surround the island.

The Sigil Blade, the first book of the Archon Sigil Trilogy, tells the story of Edryd, a man who is trying to reinvent himself and conceal the truth about his past. His unexplained arrival as a stranger upon the island will change the course of its history and set in motion events that will ultimately shape the future of an entire world. He will duel with Aed Seoras, a master shaper who seeks to use and control him, and battle with immortal draugar and their human thralls as he struggles with dark powers over which he has no control. He must learn to shape the darkness around him if he wants to avoid a destiny which holds the promise of endless bloodshed and destruction. The tool he will need to do this… is an ancient weapon of power.

4. Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin.

And a cold-blooded killer.

His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

5. Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians, the prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician's Land, is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren't black and white, and power comes at a terrible price.
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Myth Weaver

1. Character forced on a quest. Discounting the introduction with the author bono fides and GoT comparison, it's a single tight paragraph. Dead who will not stay dead.

2. Stands out from the others as not focusing on a single character (wonder why?). More the story of the land.

3. First paragraph focuses on the world. Second on a character. Men returned from death. Implied quest to find an ancient weapon of power.

4. Character focused. Dark monsters plague the world and the character's purpose is to destroy them.

5. Character focused. Quest.

Not exactly sure what any of this tells me. Maybe a template would be:

Character started out here. This thing happened. Character must go on quest. These are the horrible things character will face on the quest.



Myth Weaver
Character started out here. This thing happened. Character must go on quest. These are the horrible things character will face on the quest.
It reminds me of Pixar's 4th rule for storytelling.
Once upon a time there was ___.
Every day, ___.
One day ___.
Because of that, ___.
Because of that, ___.
Until finally ___.
So I think you are on the right lines...


The template I've seen goes something like this:

Paragraph 1: the setting/world/status quo.

Paragraph 2: the main character's situation/problems.

Paragraph 3: the stakes.

The temporal setting for the blurb is typically at the end of the first act, when the main character is at the point of no return/leaving home/setting out on the quest.

But the main requirement is to be intriguing, to raise questions in the reader's mind that they really want answers to.

Philip Overby

Article Team
I tried to follow Chuck Wendig's approach to blurbs when I wrote mine. I like his style of blurbs as they feel more conversational in some way.


Myth Weaver
I actually just bought a book on blurb writing. When I get around to reading it, I'll post a review.