How to Write a Romance Book Description

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

  1. introduce at least one main character and their initial situation(s),
  2. state the character’s/characters’ goal(s), and
  3. 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:

Maria is a project manager at an IT corporation in her late thirties who is going through a rough divorce. Jason is her fresh-out-of-school, twenty-two-year-old intern. Maria prides herself on her professionalism and reputation and wants to keep her personal life under wraps, but lately she’s struggling to check her emotions with her colleagues, especially since the company is still adjusting after a tense merger. Meanwhile, though Jason is outwardly professional, it’s clear he has a crush on the beautiful older woman by the way he looks at her. When Maria snaps at Jason after a particularly stressful meeting, he reacts with anger, and without thinking, Maria throws Jason’s crush in his face. Quickly, their relationship crosses the line from professional into something else entirely, and if Maria isn’t careful, the job she has poured everything into—at the cost of her marriage—will also implode.

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:

[Paragraph introducing main character 1]

[Paragraph introducing main character 2]

[One to two paragraphs introducing conflict/stakes]

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:

Maria can’t handle any more stress. At work, she’s a project manager dealing with a tense corporate merger. At home, she’s a soon-to-be divorcee fighting a legal battle for her assets and coming to terms with her failed marriage.

On top of all that, she now has to manage the young, new intern, Jason, who has an annoying crush on her—and who also happens to be /very/ easy on the eyes.

When Maria snaps at Jason after a particularly rough meeting, their relationship crosses the line from professional to downright inappropriate. Jason makes Maria feel like an infatuated teenager, and soon she’s addicted to his touch and the love she sees in his eyes.

But Maria has sacrificed so much for her job, including her marriage. If she keeps going with Jason, she could lose everything.

Third person, equal screen time for two main characters:

Maria can’t handle any more stress. At work, she’s a project manager dealing with a tense corporate merger. At home, she’s a soon-to-be divorcee fighting a legal battle for her assets and coming to terms with her failed marriage.

Jason is a fresh-out-of-school intern eager to prove himself and succeed in the corporate world. But his new boss, Maria, is the sexiest woman he’s ever seen, and it’s hard to focus on work.

When Maria snaps at Jason after a particularly rough meeting, their relationship crosses the line from professional to downright inappropriate. Maria loves the way Jason makes her feel, and Jason’s pretty sure he’s falling for Maria.

But if they keep giving in to their desires, Jason could ruin an amazing opportunity and Maria could lose everything.

First person, focusing on Maria as the main character:

I can’t handle any more stress.

My marriage has imploded, and my soon-to-be ex is making the divorce as difficult as possible.

After a tense merger, the pressure at work is unreal.

And now I have to manage the annoying new intern.

He’s adorable, but his crush on me is wildly inappropriate.

And so are my thoughts about him.

If he keeps looking at me like that, I might just make a mistake…

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
  • subgenre
  • 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.

She wants what she’s not allowed to have…

Maria can’t handle any more stress. At work, she’s a project manager dealing with a tense corporate merger. At home, she’s a soon-to-be divorcee fighting a legal battle for her assets and coming to terms with her failed marriage.

On top of all that, she now has to manage the young, new intern, Jason, who has an annoying crush on her—and who also happens to be very easy on the eyes.

When Maria snaps at Jason after a particularly rough meeting, their relationship crosses the line from professional to downright inappropriate. Jason makes Maria feel like an infatuated teenager, and soon she’s addicted to his touch and the love she sees in his eyes.

But Maria has sacrificed so much for her job, including her marriage. If she keeps going with Jason, she could lose everything.

This steamy 80,000-word boss/employee romance can be read as a standalone. Buy Workplace Crush now!

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?

Need a romance editor? I’m for hire.

An editor can help make your book—and its description—shine. Request a free sample edit now.

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