Blurb marketing is the art of crafting a brief message and communicating that message to a large targeted audience quickly. The message can be an announcement of a launch, re-launch, promotion, special offer or any form of communication directly to an audience. Blurbs are a marketing tool that have been used and perfected by major publishers and bestselling authors for years.

The competitive advantage of the blurb was the ability to instantly gain widespread attention for a book release and promotion. This advantage for big publishers was a huge disadvantage for the independent author and small publisher. However that marketing advantage has all but disappeared due to the growth of social media and trends in web marketing. This article will explain why this is happening, what authors can do about it and how they can take advantage of this marketing tool.

Marketplace Shift

The publication of original written content can take many forms. The growth of digital editions and shift in dominance from the large traditional companies to smaller independent ones is fueling change in the marketplace. Bookselling both retail and online are finally opening doors that have remained closed for years. Marketing of published material is also changing and success largely depends on staying up with trends that create opportunities.

Publicity in the form of media exposure had been the marketing darling of large companies. The biggest publishers depended on their size to leverage and maintain a distinct marketplace advantage. This form of marketing was once the primary force in generating book sales. However the growth of the internet and expansion of niche social media catering to writers and readers has caused a shift in book marketing.

Promotion Reigns Supreme

Book promotion has become the center piece for book marketing from both large corporate publishers to independent authors. The ability to capture an audience and generate buzz is no longer dependent on publicity. This recent shift opens up new possibilities from large booksellers and every website selling books. What was once dominated by companies paying fees and allowances to reserve their strategic space has now become a more balanced competitive field where anyone with the right tools can be successful.

Marketing books is a multi-faceted process involving many pieces working together to raise awareness and result in consumer action. There is no one size fits all for each and every title. Marketing today requires a variety of tools that culminate in the book promotion. Creating a promotion that becomes relevant is dependent on many factors and the manner and speed at which the promotion is communicated and delivered to the consumer becomes critical.

Brevity is the Key

Large publishers understand the importance of creating a brief marketing message. They are masters at capturing the essence of the story or message in a short, clear and concise statement. Publishers with limited time and space forced the evolution of the short message into the blurb. Webster online defines blurb “as a short description that praises something (such as a book) so that people will want to buy it.”

The blurb has predominantly been associated with publishing, specifically books. Corporate book marketers over the years perfected the short message, or blurb, and still utilize today in everything they do in marketing. The art of writing a blurb requires an understanding that the consumer does not care about details. They want to know what is important to them in making a buying decision.

Reaching Your Audience

The best marketing in the world will not overcome the inability to reach a large audience quickly. As the marketplace shifts and opportunities arise, the need to spread your message and deliver to a targeted audience rapidly becomes more critical. Small publishers and independent authors with the ability to react to the market hold a distinct advantage over the large companies that move much slower.

As niche social media sites become more popular and the avid reader seeks good deals on new titles, their attention flows toward the book community. Rather than browse individual author pages, consumers are starting to favor the bulletin board approach which makes shopping quicker and easier. Finding highlights of book promotions in a single place is now becoming the norm and these niche social media sites are growing in popularity.

Develop Links

Recognizing the new attraction to the community the niche social media sites began offering opportunities for the publisher as opposed to the individual. As the consumer remains attracted to the bulletin board, the community with the most page views developed links. These links greatly benefit the author since they represent the popularity that consumers have placed on the community within the niche social media site.

This provides better access to the reader for savvy independent authors who recognize this market development. However up to this point the bigger publishers with staff paid to spend enormous amounts of time on the internet are the ones who have benefited from these changes. Their weakness is they only represent a small percent of authors under contract to their own company and it seems unlikely they will represent the large and growing field of the independent author or small publisher.

Seize the Moment

Authors should be tuned into seizing market opportunities and realize they cannot do everything themselves. When the marketplace begins to move, in order to stay competitive authors must be able to make decisions, react to changes and communicate quickly. Reaching a large targeted audience and delivering that message rapidly is the best method for doing this and blurb marketing is the most utilized tool.

As the marketplace continually shifts, the recognition of these subtle changes requires an almost daily update of what is happening within an industry. The problem with trying to keep up on your own is nearly impossible. Even if you had the time, your recognition factor will be much lower than employees of large corporate publishers. Staying abreast of trends in publishing requires a willingness to depend on those with whom you trust for information.

The Blurb

Think of blurbs as a different form of press release which is a message or statement conveyed to print and broadcast media. Today the press release has given way to the media release where individuals and small companies that do not have the ability to garner media attention have turned to the internet to convey a message or make an announcement.

For authors and small publishers the media release has become communication to a mass audience on one large social media site. Blurb marketing communicates to a targeted audience across the internet to small, large and niche social media sites. The difference is the ability to reach a larger more focused audience rapidly.

Impactful blurbs are brief and written as a means of enticing the consumer to react. That reaction will be through a link to another site where more information is available or to a sales page where a purchase can be made. An impactful blurb also contains tags for easy internet search and sometimes a book cover image. The success of the announcement or promotional offer is all dependent on the content of the message and delivery tool used to reach a large targeted audience quickly.

How Blurbs Differ

A blurb is typically identified by the size of the copy. Most blurbs range from a minimum of 60 to no more than 75 words. This differs from cover copy which has no limits in number of words only the size of the font and trim size of the cover. The same holds true for subtitles although you rarely see a subtitle more than a few sentences in length. While the subtitle helps support the title and identify the content, the blurb encapsulates the storyline and always includes the promotional offer.

Marketing with blurbs becomes the most attractive format for readers simply because they avoid details and seek out the basics of each title. They want to know what will entice them to seek further information or make a direct purchase and care nothing about the sometimes lengthy prose often found in cover copy. Readers have become savvy consumers and the blurb is the best method for providing short messages that help readers make decisions.

Variations Work Best

Studies have shown that consumers respond best when they are exposed to multiple variations of the same general announcement or impression. Advertisers claim that it takes a minimum of six impressions to catch the attention of the consumer. The best way to utilize blurb marketing is to create the same general message in a variety of ways giving the consumer multiple exposures.

At the major publisher level it was not uncommon for a blurb to appear a minimum of three variations up to as many as a dozen. The importance was to deliver to a target audience the same brief marketing message written in different variations. Consumers faced with the same impression again and again tend to lose attention. Multiple variations deliver the same general message but have a better chance at attracting consumer attention and reaction.


Authors and small publishers who hope to stay competitive should consider the power of the blurb marketing tool for communicating with their audience. The internet is a wonderful and powerful thing, however learning to channel that wonder and power can be an impossible task for any one person. As community trumps the individual in the niche social media sites, authors must communicate with their audience and eventually utilize blurb marketing as a delivery tool to fit their needs.

The marketing message must be crafted in a brief manner. Authors should create book promotions which react to market conditions, trends and changes that create opportunities. These opportunities are possible if the author can react, communicate and deliver their message to their targeted audience quickly. This ability becomes an excellent marketing tool that is essential to continuous success and that tool is blurb marketing.