You’ve written a romance—maybe it’s 25,000 words, maybe it’s over 100,000—and now it’s time to publish it. If you’re like most authors, the few hundred words you’ll need to write for your book’s sales page will be harder than writing the book itself.
But a book’s description, or blurb, can be what convinces readers to buy your story—or run from it.
How does one go about crafting this sales copy? Well, if you browse through the top 100 lists on Amazon Kindle, you’ll see two main approaches: the third-person description and the first-person one. What each approach must accomplish is the same, however.
A romance novel’s book description must
- introduce at least one main character and their initial situation(s),
- state the character’s/characters’ goal(s), and
- hint at the main conflict of the story, aka what is complicating the romantic relationship and the stakes, or what the characters could lose if they choose to be together.
Optionally, a description can include a tagline and/or additional information about the story’s genre and tropes, the author’s best-seller status, etc.
Note that not every single description will include the above info. Authors (or publishers) have the freedom to write any kind of description they want, and this is not an exact science. However, there are definite trends among books that are selling well.
Let’s create an example. We’ll start with the following premise:
The above isn’t a bad description in itself, but it’s not up to snuff for a sales page. Let’s delineate its essential parts.
Main characters and their situations: Maria is a project manager at an IT corporation in her late thirties who is going through a rough divorce and a tense merger at the company, and Jason is a fresh-out-of-school twenty-two-year-old who is an intern at the same corporation and who has a crush on his new boss (Maria).
Goals: Maria wants to keep her turbulent personal life secret from her colleagues and maintain a high degree of professionalism, but she also wants to have a relationship with Jason (even if she doesn’t want it or admit that she wants it at first). Jason wants to have a romantic relationship with his boss, Maria. For the purpose of this example, we’ll assume he also wants to succeed in his internship.
Main conflict and stakes: Maria and Jason want to be together, but this conflicts with Maria’s goals of being professional and keeping her personal life separate from her work life and could cause her to lose her job, and Jason could lose his internship.
You’ve likely seen several romance descriptions structured as follows:
For first-person descriptions, which have become common, there will often be several very short paragraphs of one to two sentences, but they will convey the same information, more or less.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the whole description under 200 words. You also don’t want to reveal story details past the first plot point.
There are a few ways we could go about creating a book description for our example story. For one, we could decide to focus mostly on Maria, since it seems from the premise that the story is mostly about her. Or we could choose to feature both main characters equally. We could choose to take a sparse approach and reveal hardly any information about the story, or we could share a few more details.
These choices are easier to make if you have a finished book to refer to. For example, if your book is in third person, a first-person blurb is probably not appropriate. If your book’s writing style is sparse, a sparse description makes more sense than a more fleshed-out one. If your book features both characters equally, such as in a dual-POV story, you probably want to feature them equally in the blurb.
I’ll write a few descriptions for you to compare.
Third person, focusing on Maria as the main character:
Third person, equal screen time for two main characters:
First person, focusing on Maria as the main character:
Hopefully the above examples give you an idea of the different ways you can structure your romance book’s blurb. But what about the optional information I mentioned at the beginning of this post?
Other information you can put in your book’s sales description includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- word count
- heat level
- a “buy now” message
- a tagline
- trope names
- series vs. standalone information
- warnings or promises about a cliff-hanger and/or HEA
- best-seller information
I’ll end this post with an example of how some of the above information could be included for Maria and Jason’s book.
Do you find writing book descriptions difficult? Is there anything I didn’t cover or that you have questions about when it comes to writing your romance novel’s sales copy?