One of the authors on the self publishing panel said she hated writing back cover blurbs. I said I actually liked writing the back cover blurb and had written them for all my books, published and un-published.
I began writing the back cover blurbs with Tea Times Three, then an unfinished novel that I hoped to one day complete. I wrote it is as an exercise to help me finish the book. I continued to write back cover copy and wrote one for Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight which was actually the paragraph describing the book in my query letter.
I began to do it seriously when I found this blog post by Cat Rambo
I found that it really helped me focus on the plot, the core conflicts (just like he said it should) and best of all, it will help you write the dreaded query! And you don't have to wait for Day 16 either. If you have a book idea you can always start there. Or write it midway through your first draft when you feel more secure about the plot. Write it when you feel inspired to write it.
Tips to keep in mind:
-Establish your main character(s) quickly.
-You don't need to include the entire plot- get to the inciting incident ("but when").
-Include the stakes! What does your character need to accomplish and what stands in their way?
Breakdown of the original blurb for Tea Times Three:
The sleepy town of Midswich Maine is shaken when three witches arrive and open a tea shop. Bruleé, Anglaise, and Caramel just want to start over in a new place, far from their troubles. Unfortunately Pastor Austin and a pack of upright citizens have other ideas.
Can the witches stay in their new home and save their business? Or will they be run out of town before anyone can even try their magical teas?Even as they make friends their days may be numbered.
The first paragraph introduces the main characters, the setting, and what the main characters hope to accomplish. The second sentence of the first paragraph introduces the character who stands int heir way, Pastor Austin and his upright citizens.
The second paragraph raises the stakes for the three witches. Can they save their business or will they be run out of town?
The last paragraph, just a sentence, introduces some hope, they are making friends, but it may not be enough.
Whole swathes of both plot and characters are left out of the back cover description. The reader will discover those on their own when they buy the book and read it for themselves. They don't need to know everything upfront. If they did, why buy the book?If you feel intimidated by the task, practice! Write a blurb for a book which has already been published. Or for one that you've read. Before too long you should start being able to tell what to add and what to cut. I will also say that it takes a few drafts too! Don't be afraid to write two, or four, or seven versions.