I’ve trained lots of sales people and there’s an acronym often used in sales meetings that applies very well for cover blurbs. It is AIDA and it means Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. The cover and the cover blurb have a big job. They have to grab a reader’s attention, capture their interest, provoke desire for the book, and encourage them to take action and buy it.
Here’s a list of Hints, Hopes, and Hype you can use to enlist AIDA’s help.
HINTS – you have only a few words to move someone to a decision. Leverage those words. A little work here can move the potential reader to make a big decision, plunk down the money for your book.
Of the plot – but only a hint. Don’t give away too much. You want to promise not spoil.
Of the setting. It may be in a galaxy far, far away but try to be a little more specific.
Of the style. This is easier if you the author write the blurb, too. There’s no accounting for taste and there is no accounting for style. What appeals to one does not and cannot appeal to everyone. The 150 or 200 words in your blurb should hint at the writing style of the entire manuscript.
Of the genre. Readers like what they like. I don’t buy or read scifi, but lots of others do. Help them make the right selection.
Of the characters and what they face – the idea is to create desire by hinting at interesting characters.
HOPE – Every transaction ever made is a problem-solving one. Readers are looking for a solution. They want a satisfying read, an entertaining read, a time well-spent. You the author have to offer hope that your book deserves to be purchased and read because it promises to do just that. We publish nonfiction almost exclusively, therefore every book must answer a question, solve a problem, fulfill a desire. If you don’t know the question and its answer, if you don’t comprehend the problem and its solution, if you cannot satisfy the reader’s desire to know, then it is unlikely the book is ready for market. No amount of exceptional blurb writing can ever overcome that.
Of a satisfying read – we’ve all read books that left us feeling unrewarded. Something was missing even if we couldn’t quite figure out what. The cover blurb promises not to do that.
Of time and money well-spent – most of us have discovered that we get what we pay for and I am not speaking about purchases. I am speaking about those authors who offer their books for free and get less than kind reviews from those who were looking for cheap thrills. Professional authors expect something from their readers and are willing to work hard to make their books worthy of those expectations. We expect our readers to be satisfied, yes. But more than that, we want them to close the book at the last page feeling that their time was worthwhile and money was well-spent. A well-written blurb sets up that expectation, just be sure to deliver inside.
Over the top…but not too far over – I love old movie trailers. They use selected scenes and extravagant, expressive copy for a reason. It sells. People expect hype and hoorah. No one who really wants to sell a book will tell potential readers that the story is just okay.
About you the author…but not too much – three sentences tops, two is better. You’ve likely placed a more detailed bio inside so there’s no need to repeat yourself here. Remember, hint and hope, nothing more.