Friday, February 04, 2022

Karen S. Wiesner: Blurbs Series, Part 5: Branding and Blurbs

 Writer's Craft Article by Karen S. Wiesner 

Based on Writing Blurbs that Sizzle--And Sell! by Karen S. Wiesner 

Blurbs Series, Part 5:

Branding and Blurbs 

This is the fifth of six posts focusing on writing effective blurbs for your books. 

In the previous installment, we talked when to write your blurbs. Let's continue. 

Like it or not, authors do have to think about blurb sizing--in relation to promotional considerations--and branding, two things that go hand-in-hand. These days, writers are the masters of their own domains. Whether they're self-publishing or working with a publisher, they tend to wear all the hats (writer, publisher, editor, artist and marketer) and so they need to know how to promote their own brand. Preparing punchy, intriguing blurbs for our books and series that are the appropriate sizes for marketing applications is crucial. The idea of branding is to make something utterly memorable. Our author status and our books are what we're trying to brand and blurbs are almost always what we use to hook readers.

Blurb Sizing

Let's start this by stating the axiom of all blurb writing: Ultimately, it doesn't matter a whit if a blurb is long or short or somewhere in-between. We have a misconception these days that being short by definition makes a blurb good and effective while a long blurb is by default in opposition of that, but both flavor-of the-day trends are illusions that you can't afford to rest on. An effectively good blurb means it's both well-written and makes a person want to read the story inside the pages, not just the back--want to enough to actually pay money to do it. Promotional considerations are the major and the main reason for having short blurbs. 

You have to have various sizes of blurbs because there are so many restrictions on blurb length these days. Being forced to have a blurb no longer than 150, 100 or a groan-out-loud 75 words can be incredibly limiting. There's no doubt about the fact that how you present your blurbs when you're forced into a word count limitation necessitates extreme creativity (and a few tears). As for the how to go about whittling your blurbs to the required desired promotional lengths , I strongly think it's always best to work directly from the original, full-length blurb instead of starting from scratch in any areas. Full-length blurbs are usually the strongest version of a blurb since it has everything it needs to be intriguing and compelling for readers, luring them into wanting to read then entire book. 

Promotion of your books, whether a single title or a series, offers meager space for blurbs--and, in this case, that may be wise. Promotional ads are "sound bites" of information, so the shorter and catchier, the better. However, I don't believe a blurb that includes only high-concept blurb will ever be effective in making the reader jump right to buying the book. With that kind of thinking, authors have skipped an absolutely vital step. This is very definitely a progression. The reason for a high-concept blurb is to lure the readers in with a punch of intrigue so they'll want to read the rest of the blurb (which will hopefully make them want to read the book). So the high-concept blurb tempts the reader to read the back cover blurb and the back cover blurb incites the reader to make the commitment to read the story. When I see a book promotion that has a high-concept blurb that really speaks to me, makes me want to know more, I'll go looking for the back cover blurb. I rarely skip right to buying the book because I need to know more in order to make the commitment to buy. Think of it as an equation (the arrow stands for "leads to"): 

High-concept blurb PUNCH --> Back cover blurb to find out more information --> Commitment to buy and read the book 

Authors need to be aware of this progression to be effective in distributing and marketing their books. 


While an author may have little or no control over the process of the publication of her book or series, she can still influence the outcome and specific areas of consideration in order to do this. The place to start is with branding--and this is something that applies to the books, series, as well as to the author of them. In her article “The Basics of Author Branding" author Theresa Meyers (do an internet search for the article title and author) talks about building an image or perception that’s used to create a loyal readership through branding. Essentially, branding is name recognition, creating a distinction for what you’re offering. I’d go so far as to say that every author should have an “author branding statement” that she uses in every piece of promotion she undertakes. For instance, my branding statement (another catchy blurb!) is “Creating realistic, unforgettable characters one story at a time…” In this statement is a concise summary of what I’m most known for with my fiction: realistic, hauntingly memorable characters. This one simple sentence captures every story I’ve ever written and everything I will ever write. 

Branding is very much an implied promise to consumers that you’ll continue offering something similar and you’ll do so consistently. While it takes quite a bit of time and effort to build brand recognition (Theresa mentions ten or more impressions in her article, but I’ve heard it’s closer to fourteen these days since the market is so saturated, consumers are harder to entice, and the state of the economy plays such a huge factor in purchasing habits), it’s essential that branding is put in place as soon as possible. Create a distinction for your book(s), your author voice, what you want to be known for (go-to author for {fill in the blank}), and what you're willing to provide consistently as an author, and then market it ever afterward. According to Kimberly Grabas in her How to Build Your Author Brand From Scratch (and Why You Need to) article, "a powerful author brand is designed--not stumbled upon by accident." The author is almost always his own designer. Decide what you authentically want to be about, what your books stand for, and continue to evolve the story of your brand. 

A series is one of the best places to brand. You want to begin branding your series as soon as you have the first book in the set blurbed. While patrolling listservs for series readers, I overheard comments such as: 

“I always check any information on the author or books on their websites, especially if I need to know the order of the series. I don’t want to start in the middle and miss any inside jokes or cool continuities.” 

“Author websites are the first thing I check if I’m interested in a new series.” 

“I think it would pay for authors and publishers to make it easy to know if a book is part of a series and where each title fits in that series, since each story prepares you for the coming books.” 

These comments don't necessarily have to be applied only to series titles but all books written by authors. (Re-read the comments with that in mind). Put in these ways, it’s logical for publishers and authors to make it as easy as possible to find out about or purchase all author titles including those that fit into a particular series. But sometimes it does seem like they’re doing the opposite.  

Unfortunately, authors who aren't self-published don’t always have a lot of influence over many aspects of branding, but even if your publisher ultimately doesn’t back your series with an aggressive marketing track, nothing is stopping you from discussing upcoming issues in your series with your editor or publisher to get branding running hot and fast, and trying to set a good example by offering as much as you can to your fans on your own website or blog. In the sections below, I’ll include methods that authors who are both self-published or working with a publisher can employ to promote branding (even if the publishers don’t cooperate). Associations and utilization of all types of blurbs are crucial for your author, book, and series branding. It is usually with a series that branding is so essential and so we're going to address that now, but keep in mind that many of these principles apply to single-title author branding as well. 

In the next part, we'll talk about series branding. 

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of Writing Blurbs That Sizzle--And Sell!

Volume 7 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection 

Happy writing! 

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 140 titles and 16 series. Visit her here:

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, as usual. The tagline with which I always introduce my website is, "Explore love among the monsters." I guess that's my brand.