Posted in Lists

On Bad Book Blurbs

When I’m looking for new books to add to my to-read list, I usually first check out listopia on Goodreads. If I’m not stopped by a cheesy title and a horrible cover, I click on the book and read the blurb – and that’s a really good way to lose interest in so many books. There are lots of decent blurbs out there, there are some amazing ones that make me want to read the book immediately, but there are also many blurbs that are really badly written. Many of them make the same mistakes. A bad blurb doesn’t mean that the book itself is a bad one, but it does mean that I probably won’t give it chance. Some of my biggest turn-offs are:

  • The Rule of Three

This one seems to be reserved for romance novels. It usually has three very melodramatic parts:

  1. She was… (usually a feisty virgin)
  2. He was… (usually a tortured asshole)
  3. But then they met and… (Oh, I’m sure the ending will shock me)

Of course it’s not always like this. But it happens often enough and that makes it very difficult for me to look past the bad blurb and read the book.

  • The 99%

At first, this blurb seems like a decent one. It describes the story and asks a question. Usually the question is about whether or not a character will make a certain choice. You are intrigued and you get the book. You start reading and of course you already know some things because you read the blurb, but that’s normal. You keep reading and the more you read the more you realize that the blurb told you everything. The incredibly important choice that the character has to make only happens a chapter or two before the ending. Everything is quickly wrapped up and that’s it. That’s the whole book.

  • If you liked…

This is the blurb that lists a few famous books and tells you that this book is a mix of them. And you have to read it because this book is MADE for the readers of those other books. Because after reading a really great book the next thing you want is to read every book that’s cashing in on the newest fad.

  • The Short History

But when you’re writing a blurb, even a short history is too long. This kind of blurb is pretty common in the fantasy genre. The writer invented a whole world and to really get what the story is about, you need to understand that world – the history, the mythology, everything about it. But if your world is complex enough, you probably won’t be able to shrink it enough to write a good blurb. And I prefer to slowly discover this new world while reading the book.


Confession: I’ve read many books with blurbs like these. But more and more often they just make me roll my eyes and move on.


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