Blurb Your Enthuiasm by Louise Willder

Reviewed by Richard Tutin

Looking for a new book to read is not easy. Within our favourite genres, there is so much choice. How can we decide before forking out our hard-earned cash and then find that our choice wasn’t as inspired as we thought it was? The answer lies in in a paragraph or two usually found on the back cover of a book or in some cases on its dust jacket known in the publishing trade as the Blurb.

The Blurb has guided many a reader on the path to finding a new favourite title or author. We, the readers, though often take it for granted. We read it, sometimes act on it and then we forget about it. We rarely put much thought into how it came into being or who put the time and effort into writing it.

Louise Willder in Blurb Your Enthusiasm lifts the veil on this aspect of book publishing. Having written, as she says, thousands of them in her career as a copy writer Willder is well placed to introduce us to this anonymous world where a Blurb can both increase the sales figures of a book or crush them because it did not draw the prospective reader on to the next step in the process which is, of course, to buy the title and take it home.

Blurbs come in many shapes and sizes. Some are a paragraph or two while others can be as short as six or seven words. Regardless of size their importance can never be over-emphasised. Through the book’s short, sharp chapters, Willder takes us through the process of how they are conceived, written and honed to the point where they are published as part of the book. Willder reminds us continually throughout the book that the Blurb is a persuader that makes us want to buy the title because our appetite has been wetted and we want to know more.

Writing a Blub though is not easy. Sometimes a copy writer, such as Willder, has not much to go on when asked to commence the task. Occasionally the authors themselves insist on submitting a Blurb that must be fine-tuned. This can control the process in an industry where time is critical especially if the book needs to be ready and published in order to capture a particular market or season such as Christmas.

As well as explaining the process, Willder also shows how different markets such as the United States, The United Kingdom and Australia often have different versions of a Blurb to respond to the diverse cultural demands and mores of those countries. While some Blurbs have stood the test of time, a new edition of a title may call for it to be rewritten or revised to respond to the mood and expectations of the current age.

This journey though the “A to Z of Literary Persuasion” is chatty and light-hearted. We are introduced to a world that we all depend on as we look to expand our libraries. Perhaps we should, as we consider a new book, thank those whose efforts have produced the Blurb that persuaded us that the title in our hands is the one that we should take to the counter and buy before we change our mind.

Louise Willder has been a copywriter at Penguin Books for twenty-five years. During this time she estimates she has produced about 5,000 blurbs.

Blurb Your Enthusiasm: An A-Z of Literary Persuasion

Louise Willder



ISBN 978 086154 217 8

$29.99; 352pp

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