What is one of the biggest whines that I hear from authors? “I can’t write blurbs – I suck at them.” Yup, I hear it all the time. “Can I write another 5,000 words on the manuscript instead?” Here are my suggestions on what you should look at including in a blurb—oh, and remember to spell check, first impressions and all that…. In italics I’ve got some made up answers that by the end will form a blurb for a new story.

What are your publisher’s requirements for the blurb? How many words are they asking for? Different presses have different requirements or limitations (so do distribution sites).

Start out listing the top three points in your story. What is the main conflict? Joe is still grieving for his dead partner. What brings your main characters together? A car accident that makes Joe open his eyes. Who are the main characters? Joe James, 35, workaholic, grieving; Sam White, 32, Joe’s neighbor/friend, works from home. What’s the main plot? Joe gets in a car accident and has to ask Sam for help.

Describe your main characters with one line for each character. Joe has spent the past few years buried in his job, hiding from the world, as he tried to rebuild his world after the death of his partner but doesn’t know how to move on.  Sam works from home and watches as Joe pulls back from the vibrant man he was into a shell but wishes he could be more than friends.

Now let’s pull these pieces together and see if we’ve got a blurb that catches the eye.

Joe James has been buried in work for the past few years and doesn’t know how to dig his way out. His partner of ten years died unexpectedly and Joe just can’t seem to move on.

Watching his friend and neighbor become a shell has hurt Sam deeply. He wishes that he could sooth the hurts and help Joe come back to the land of the living.

A car accident on the way home one night ends with Sam getting a call he never expected. When a nurse calls him as Joe’s emergency contact, can Sam risk his heart to see if helping Joe can end in more than friends?

Some publishers ask for a one-line blurb too. When thinking about this tag-line, look at the simplest point of your story. In my example, the simplest point: can Sam help Joe back to the land of the living. So let’s tweak that. Can a call after a car accident bring Joe back to the land of the living and into Sam’s arms?

Blurbs don’t have to be the stressful step in the writing process that it is for many authors. Look at it this way: you wrote a xxx word story, a blurb is just a really short explanation of it; an IM/PM that you’d share with a friend.