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What Is a Blurb in Publishing?

Find out what a blurb is when it comes to publishing and why writers should care about them.

As a published author and editor, I've had to request several blurbs over the years. Also, I've been asked for several blurbs by other writers, including a few earlier this year. So what is a blurb anyway?

What Is a Blurb in Writing?

What Is a Blurb in Publishing?

Very simply, a blurb is a quote from a trusted source or authority that is placed on the cover or inside pages of a book to promote it. The source providing the quote may be a bestselling author, or it may be a popular magazine. They may be a few words or a few sentences in length.

For instance, here's a blurb written by poet Sandra Beasley for my collection, Solving the World's Problems: "Rather than solving the world's problems, this collection turns them to the sun like a prism--casting bright and spare images of humanity in flux. 'We spill ourselves all over ourselves,' one poem observes, 'our excess light / our forgiving natures.' Compassionate, challenging, and filled with slinky swerves of phrase, these poems refresh how we look at our daily lives."

So that's a longer blurb, and it went on the back cover of my book. Here are a few shorter ones from my paperback copy of Stephen King's Salem's Lot:

  • "A master storyteller." - Los Angeles Times
  • "Spine-tingling fiction at its best." - Grand Rapids Press
  • "An unabashed chiller." - Austin American Statesman

Here's one (of many) from my copy of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko: "A deep, broad, addictive history of a Korean family in Japan enduring and prospering through the 20th century." - David Mitchell, Guardian, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks

And Roald Dahl had this to say about A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess: "A terrifying and marvelous book."

(10 Best Dystopian Novels for Writers.)

It's debatable how much impact a blurb on the cover or inside pages of a book has on book sales. But the goal of the blurb is to provide an endorsement of the book, and that's one of the oldest and most proven marketing strategies available.

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