Marie-Pier Rochon is a web copywriter who specialises in making complicated technical topics sound simple. She helps non-fiction authors write eBooks about various technical and web related topics. She also has a soft spot for UX writing and entrepreneurship related topics. Find her on Writers Boon and get 15% discount on her services.
Your book is written. You can proudly write the words “The End” and sight with contended relief. The hard work is over. Or is it?
With the marketing and publishing phases being your next steps, you’ll soon realise that there’s still quite a bit of writing to do. The book blurb, press releases, and maybe even some social media posts.
And selling the idea of your book is not always as easy as it sounds. You need a good hook so that you can catch your potential reader’s attention in a just a few words. A great hook for your book blurb means creating mystery, anticipation and excitement about your story.
All this buzz needs to happen before the reader has even had a glance at your first chapter.
A great hook for your book blurb means creating mystery, anticipation and excitement about your story.
What’s a book blurb?
A blurb is a term used to describe a short descriptive paragraph.
It’s not the synopsis of your book. It’s usually too short to give away the ending. Ideally, you blurb at around 100 to 150 words, but some can go longer. Sentences tend to be very short and to the point.
You’ll usually see a book blurb on the back cover of a book, but it can also be hidden in inserts, used as a book’s description for online publishing platforms or as part of some press releases.
For your blurb to catch someone’s attention and make them want to read more, just like a fisherman needs the right bait, you need a noteworthy hook. Something that strikes the reader’s curiosity.
What’s a hook?
A hook is not the summary of your book. The hook is the angle that will make your book memorable. It’s what captures your reader’s attention enough to want to read more. It’s what makes it stand out from the crowd.
For a hook to be effective, you need to make it provocative and memorable enough to arouse the curiosity of your readers. You need to tell them enough about your novel so that they’ll know what they’re about to read without giving away the plot.
To create a great blurb hook, you need to tell your reader just enough about your novel so that they’ll know what they’re about to read without giving away the plot.
How to create a remarkable hook
For your blurb hook to be memorable, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Talk to your reader
How would you describe your book to the person you wrote it for? How would you make it sounds so appealing that they can’t wait to take it home and spend the rest of the day reading it?
The majority of the time you’ve spent working on your masterpiece, you’ve been in the head of your character. Now, it’s time to turn this principle onto its head and do some mind reading about the people who will enjoy your novel.
Entice, don’t inform
Your blurb is your pick up line. It works like a sales pitch, but you need to be more subtle and add a bit of romance and mystery to your hook. The hook is what will seduce the reader and push them towards your book and not the others sitting next to yours.
Find an interesting angle
Tell the reader what makes your book unique. What’s in the book that no other novel has covered before? Is it something about its content? Or the changes that the reader can make after reading it?
To create a remarkable hook, you need to entice the reader. Don’t inform and don’t give away the ending. Seduce your reader.
Here are some ideas of great hooks
Use great testimonials
For his book Bear Town, Frederik Backman starts his description with this riveting quote:
“Backman is a masterful writer, his characters familiar yet distinct, flawed yet heroic....There are scenes that bring tears, scenes of gut-wrenching despair, and moments of sly humor....A thoroughly empathetic examination of the fragile human spirit.” —Kirkus Reviews
Take your reader on a journey
Encourage your reader to use their imagination. Bring them with you in various scenarios that will give them an idea of what they’ll take away from your book. Start with the word “What if…”
This strategy can be especially useful in non-fiction books where you’re trying to teach your reader a new skill or some new habits. Tim Ferriss does this well when he introduces his book The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman:
“Thinner, bigger, faster, stronger... which 150 pages will you read?
Is it possible to:
Reach your genetic potential in 6 months?
Sleep 2 hours per day and perform better than on 8 hours?
Lose more fat than a marathoner by bingeing?”
Use a quote or a sample
Is there a particular sentence or small paragraph in your book that sums it up perfectly? Then, you might want to use that as an introduction to your blurb. It’s a simple tactic and gives your reader a real taste of what’s to come.
Finish with a cliffhanger
In a few words, take the readers through a short journey of your book right up until the peak of your storyline. Leave the reader wondering what will happen next and make them curious to find out how the story ends.
Liane Moriarty does this very well. Read these first few lines of the blurb for her dramatic thriller Big Little Lies:
“Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal...
A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?”
Writing a blurb is not like writing your book
To write a good blurb with a strong hook, you’ve got to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to grab the attention of your reader in just a few words. The style of writing will probably be very different than the voice you used throughout your novel, so writing your blurb may take you out of your comfort zone.
If you’re struggling to write your book blurb, you might consider hiring someone like a copywriter who has experience in finding the right angle for your blurb and making your novel sound appealing to the right reader. And if you prefer the DIY approach, then our list of resources and articles may help you get started.
To write a good blurb with a strong hook, you’ve got to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to grab the attention of your reader in just a few words.