A blurb is a short piece of promotional text that usually appears on the front or back cover of a book or other media product. It serves as a marketing tool to entice potential readers by providing a glimpse into the content, tone, and themes of the work. It is typically written by someone other than the author (such as a publisher, editor, or famous expert in the field).
A blurb is intended to pique people’s curiosity about, and ultimately increase sales of, the work being promoted. It is usually brief—no more than a few sentences—and carefully constructed to capture the reader’s interest while also attempting to give a sense of what to expect from the work without giving away too much of the plot or storyline. It also accentuates the work’s most distinctive and appealing aspects, whether they be its characters, setting, or subject matter.
The style and tone of a blurb will be determined by the material being promoted. A tense thriller blurb may use more dramatic language to generate a sense of urgency, while a hilarious memoir blurb may utilize a more lighthearted tone. A blurb, regardless of form, should always be concise and to the point, communicating the essence of the work in a captivating and memorable manner.
In addition to appearing on the cover or jacket of a book, blurb-like promotional texts may also be found on websites, in advertisements, and in social media posts. These are often called taglines or loglines and serve the same function as a blurb by providing a quick and enticing description of the work to potential customers.
Thomas Pynchon’s back-of-the-book blurb for “The Restraint of Beasts” is a classic example of a good blurb. Pynchon defines the work as a “demented, deadpan-comic wonder” in a single, interesting sentence, thereby capturing the novel’s unusual blend of dark humor and absurdity.
What’s the point of blurbs? by Daniel Kalder, The Guardian
A history of the blurb, every author’s best friend by Barbara Lane, Datebook
Forget The Book, Have You Read This Irresistible Story On Blurbs? by Colin Dwyer, NPR
What we can learn from Gary Shteyngart retiring from book blurbing by Kit Steinkellner, Book Riot