Why Your Query Blurb Isn’t Working

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Aug 20 2019

The query blurb–those three paragraphs that tell your book’s story and hook a reader to want more. The most important piece of your query. And often the only part of your query agents read.

Your query blurb is 90% of why you’re getting requests or rejections. Of course, things like word count and genre fit will factor in, but once you know those requirements, and meet them, it’s all about the blurb.

5 Reasons Your Blurb Isn’t Working

  1. You didn’t put the work in. A query blurb takes work, multiple revisions, and feedback from others. Throwing something on paper isn’t enough. It takes practice to write amazing query blurbs. It also takes 3-4 people and multiple revisions. Your query blurb is your future cover copy. Put the work in.
  2. Your tone doesn’t match your genre. Don’t tell me your book is a comedy and write a droll and depressing blurb. If you tell me you’re funny, I better laugh. If you tell me it’s scary, I better feel your voice come through.
  3. It’s all backstory. A sentence or two to tell us how we got here is great. That’s enough. What we need to know is what this book is about. Not what got us here.
  4. It’s not special. The hard truth is that your query represents your book and if you can’t make your query sound special and different from every other book out there then maybe the problem isn’t the query, but your book.
  5. Your voice doesn’t shine through. Your query should have a distinct voice like your book. Something that sounds overly business-like doesn’t grab a reader. It makes us think your book is overly business like.

BookEnds is doing a series of blog posts titled “How I Pitched” in which we share the pitches we’ve used to sell books. This is no different from a query and often we use the author’s queries as a guide or sometimes verbatim. Study these. Study Query Shark and read lots and lots of cover copy. The best way to figure out how to pitch something is knowing how others are doing it.

One response to “Why Your Query Blurb Isn’t Working”

  1. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Like anything, to do something well takes time. Query letters are no different. Being able to see what has worked and what hasn’t is a great way to learn and I’m really appreciating the posts you’ve been sharing with your pitches. They are a great help. Thank you!