By Sage Cohen
It's time to condense all of this knowledge into a single, high-impact paragraph or two -- called a blurb -- that tells the story of your book's value quickly and persuasively.
The blurb can be used in a variety of ways to move your project forward: as the foundation of your query letter, the concept statement in your book proposal, the crib sheet from which you pitch the book live at a conference, and ultimately the marketing content (or blurb) on the book's back cover or jacket flap.
The blurb's job is convince to agents and publishers that your book will sell -- and convince readers that this is a book they must have.
Here's the blurb I created for Writing the Life Poetic:
"No one needs an advanced degree in creative writing to reap the rewards of poetry. Writing the Life Poetic puts poetry back into the hands of the people -- not because they are aspiring to become the poet laureate of the United States -- but because poetry is one of the great pleasures in life.
Writing the Life Poetic is packed full of captivating new ways to generate ideas and have fun with the writing process. 80 short, friendly chapters address a mix of content, process, and craft ideas designed to help you tune into the poetry of your life -- and get it down on the page."
Your turn! Write a blurb that names the problem your book solves, describes the readers who would most enjoy it, and articulates quickly what it will accomplish for those readers -- and how.
Be patient with yourself. Whittling down everything you know about this project into a paragraph or two can take some time. Expect multiple revisions.
Then test out the blurb on a few people who are unfamiliar with your book and ask them to tell you what they've learned from it. This will help you see where you're hitting the mark and what could be refined.
Sage Cohen is the author of (Writers Digest Books, 2009) and the poetry collection Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write PoetryLike the Heart, the World. An award-winning poet, she writes three monthly columns about the craft and business of writing and serves as Poetry Editor for VoiceCatcher 4. Her poetry and essays appear in journals and anthologies including Cup of Comfort for Writers, The Oregonian, Oregon Literary Review, Greater Good and VoiceCatcher. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University, co-hosts a monthly reading series at Barnes & Noble and teaches the online class Poetry for the People. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and awarded a Soapstone residency. To learn more, visit www.writingthelifepoetic.com.