The entire purpose of a blurb is to get a reader’s attention and convince them to pick up that book and read it. Writing them is an art form in itself and requires a delicate balance between being intriguing with just enough information to draw a reader in while staying accurate and not giving too much away. I can say from experience, it was one of the harder aspects of writing a book, so I get that they aren’t always going to be perfect. But, problematic blurbs tend to be a pretty big peeve of mine in reading.
The first part, giving just enough information without being too much, is really hard. I’ve seen books with only a handful of very short sentences that give almost no feel for what the book is actually about. These can be intriguing, but more times than not, they just aren’t enough to get me to pick up a book. I need just a little more than that.
The flip side of that is the blurb that is so long it encompasses nearly 2 pages worth of story summary or just an overload of information and details. The point is to get the reader to want to pick the book up to learn more, not to hand every detail to them in summarized form. I really don’t want to spend more than a minute or two reading a blurb to figure out if I want to spend more of my time to read the book. If I see a really long blurb, I will often just not even bother.
This may be small, but… that blurb really shouldn’t have any errors in it. If the blurb has grammatical or spelling errors, it doesn’t give me a whole lot of hope that the book is going to have been cleanly edited. This doesn’t just apply to spelling and grammar, but to plot and story and character development. Typos and mistakes happen, but first impressions make a huge impact on readers.
I also cannot stand when the blurb contains a spoiler or includes something that the reader doesn’t even see until the very end of the book. For me, these tend to create a certain level of expectation for those parts and I’ll spend the whole book looking for it and not just enjoying the piece of the story that is in front of me at the time.
For me, I think the worst offense a blurb can commit is to not actually represent the book it is attached to. I have now read 2 different ARCs in a row that I requested because the blurbs looked amazing only to find out that the blurb and the book really didn’t match.
The blurb is the second point of advertising for a book right after the cover. Like any other kind of advertising, a blurb can fall into the “false advertising” category. It doesn’t seem to happen often, but it does happen and I really don’t get why. I feel like if you do that, it makes you look bad as an author. If I read a book with a gross level of disparity between the blurb and the book, I’m a whole lot less likely to ever pick up another book by that author, so doing this seems really counter intuitive.
I also feel like the issues with length and too much information are a lot more minor in comparison to a blurb that doesn’t match a book. At least those are being honest even if it doesn’t quite hit that sweet spot balance on just enough but not too much. There is also a difference between being coy with surprises along the way and being an outright misrepresentation of what a book is about. When a blurb doesn’t match a book it feels kind of like a lie and a breach of trust between author and reader, which is a surprisingly important part of that relationship.