If you’re looking for great nonfiction book blurb examples, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you’ll find out why blurbs are critical to the success of your book sales and you’ll learn how to craft the perfect blurb. At the end we’ll deconstruct blurb examples for books in seven bestselling nonfiction categories on Amazon.
What is a Book Blurb?
A book blurb is the marketing text found on the back cover of a physical copy and in the book description found in online bookstores. Blurbs are there to tell readers why they should pick up a copy of the book, not to offer a summary or synopsis of the book.
In other words, blurbs don’t reveal any of the secrets contained in the book. They simply tantalize readers with clever marketing copy to entice a purchase.
For example, here’s the typical process of discovery most readers will follow when they come across your book on Amazon:
- They’ll first see your title and cover (as a result of an Amazon search)
- Then they’ll read your blurb as it appears on the Amazon book description (shown when they click your title link or your cover)
- Next, they’ll use the Look Inside feature to browse your table of contents
- Finally, they’ll read your introduction (also through the Look Inside feature)
This is the marketing sequence that closes most book sales, unless a reader is specifically looking for your title due to a recommendation.
For this sequence to work, all the pieces need to fit together (tip: follow the above links to learn how steps 1, 3 and 4 need to be executed to be successful).
Your book blurb is one of the most important marketing pieces in your book, second only to your title.
Book Blurbs Cater to Two Audiences
In the not too distant past, book blurbs needed to be written specifically for your target audience. In today’s cyber world, they need to be written for two somehow-related yet very distinct audiences:
- First Audience: Your readers
- Second Audience: Amazon’s search algorithm
Even the most eloquent blurb that is perfectly designed for readers will simply not come up in bookstore searches unless it’s optimized for Amazon’s search algorithm.
For example, when you click a book title or cover image on Amazon to view the listing, only the first paragraph in the blurb and a bit of the second will show, followed by a “Read More” link.
This information needs to fulfill two goals:
1) they must be alluring for your readers so they feel compelled to click on “Read More”
2) they must contain highly targeted keywords that your readers are most likely to use when searching Amazon for books in your niche.
When your blurb fulfills the requirements for both audiences, your books will appear more often on user searches, and those users will feel compelled to read your blurb before they read your competitor’s.
Nonfiction Book Blurb Formula
In order to create a strong blurb, you need to follow a well-established formula borrowed from the world of advertising. When advertisers create copy, their goal is to make sure that 1) their targets identify with the ad, 2) that they clearly understand the benefits being presented and 3) that they see their aspirations fulfilled in buying the product.
Now, there are many ways to accomplish this goal, as you’ll see in the multiple examples listed at the end of this article. However, they all need to follow the same basic formula.
In order to compel your readers to take action and purchase your book, you’ll need to:
- Clearly state the main problem suffered by your target audience: Here’s where your target audience research becomes critical. In order to clearly state the main problem that afflicts your audience, which your book will solve, you need to know and understand your audience deeply. You need to know their hopes, dreams, challenges and what keeps them up at night.
- Show what your solution will accomplish (but never show how it’ll do it!): Now that you’ve connected to your reader’s pain, you need to show them what your book will do to eliminate this pain – but you won’t tell them the “how.” Here’s an example for a self-help book:
- Learn how to easily overcome the barriers standing between you and your goals
- Learn how to reduce conflict and increase enjoyment in your interactions with others
- Learn how to develop a clear purpose in life that inspires you every day
- Describe what the reader’s future will be like: Finally, it’s time to paint a clear picture that describes your reader’s aspirations. Here’s an example for a book on weight loss for people over 50:
- Imagine looking forward to actively enjoying the outdoors with energy to spare
- Being able to wear clothes that haven’t fit you for years
- Looking in the mirror and feeling young again (the way you’ve always felt on the inside)
Here are some basic rules of the road that I recommend:
- Try to keep your blurb to between 200-220 words
- Always write your blurb in the second person
- Consider starting your blurb with open-ended questions
- Never reveal any of your “secret sauce” in your blurb
- Always address your blurb to an audience of one – that is, to each reader individually. For example, don’t say: “…by using these techniques everyone will experience an immediate surge of energy…” instead say: “…by using these techniques you will experience an immediate surge of energy…”
Research Top Nonfiction Books in Your Niche
Finally, there’s no better way to learn how to do something for the first time than by looking at how the masters do it.
Go to Amazon and read the descriptions of the top 7-10 nonfiction books in your niche and deconstruct how they’re written using what you’ve learned in this article. Then make notes of any hooks, questions, and other devices that catch your eye.
If you find them compelling, then it’s probably a good idea to emulate them (without copying the text verbatim, of course). Use this information as inspiration to come up with a great blurb for your own book.
Book Blurb Examples
Below you’ll find examples of blurbs from a book in each of seven popular bestselling nonfiction categories on Amazon, followed by my analysis:
1) Biographies & Memories
Title: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Analysis: Since this is a memoir, the blurb’s structure is less about problem-solving and more about the main thesis of the book: the disintegration of white working-class Americans and their struggles. However, the blurb still reflects on a key pain of its target audience: the loss of the American dream.
Title: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
When our embarrassments and fears lie, we often listen to them anyway. They thwart our gratitude, acceptance, and compassion—our goodness. They insist, “I am not worthy.” But we are worthy—of self-discovery, personal growth, and boundless love. With Brené Brown’s game-changing New York Times bestseller The Gifts of Imperfection—which has sold more than 2 million copies in more than 30 different languages, and Forbes recently named one of the “Five Books That Will Actually Change Your Outlook On Life”—we find courage to overcome paralyzing fear and self-consciousness, strengthening our connection to the world.
A motivational and inspiring guide to wholehearted living, rather than just the average self-help book, with this groundbreaking work Brené Brown, Ph.D., bolsters the self-esteem and personal development process through her characteristic heartfelt, honest storytelling. With original research and plenty of encouragement, she explores the psychology of releasing our definitions of an “imperfect” life and embracing living authentically. Brown’s “ten guideposts” are benchmarks for authenticity that can help anyone establish a practice for a life of honest beauty—a perfectly imperfect life.
Now more than ever, we all need to cultivate feelings of self-worth, as well as acceptance and love for ourselves. In a world where insults, criticisms, and fears are spread too generously alongside messages of unrealistic beauty, attainment, and expectation, we look for ways to “dig deep” and find truth and gratitude in our lives. A new way forward means we can’t hold on too tightly to our own self-defeating thoughts or the displaced pain in our world. Instead, we can embrace the imperfection.
Analysis: This is a textbook example of a problem-solving nonfiction book blurb: it first states the problem clearly, then it describes the solution without revealing any secrets, and finally it shows aspirational results to be anticipated by its target audience.
Title: This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life
This Naked Mind has ignited a movement across the country, helping thousands of people forever change their relationship with alcohol.
Many people question whether drinking has become too big a part of their lives and worry that it may even be affecting their health. But they resist change because they fear losing the pleasure and stress relief associated with alcohol and assume giving it up will involve deprivation and misery.
This Naked Mind offers a new, positive solution. Here, Annie Grace clearly presents the psychological and neurological components of alcohol use based on the latest science and reveals the cultural, social, and industry factors that support alcohol dependence in all of us. Packed with surprising insight into the reasons we drink, this book will open your eyes to the startling role of alcohol in our culture and how the stigma of alcoholism and recovery keeps people from getting the help they need. With Annie’s own extraordinary and candid personal story at its heart, this book is a must-listen for anyone who drinks.
This Naked Mind will give you freedom from alcohol. It removes the psychological dependence so that you will not crave alcohol, allowing you to easily drink less (or stop drinking). With clarity, humor, and a unique blend of science and storytelling, This Naked Mind will open the door to the life you have been waiting for.
Analysis: Another example of a textbook nonfiction blurb, with the addition of a short intro that gives context to the book in light of the movement that it’s managed to spark.
Title: Instant Loss: Eat Real, Lose Weight: How I Lost 125 Pounds
Brittany Williams has taken the weight loss world by storm with her best-selling Instant Loss Cookbook. After reaching a peak weight of 260 pounds and spending a lifetime struggling with obesity, yo-yo dieting, autoimmune diseases, and chronic fatigue, Brittany changed her relationship with food and lost an astonishing 125 pounds in a year through diet alone. She cut processed and takeout foods from her diet and eliminated gluten, most grains, and sugar, all without sacrificing the flavors of the foods she loved, and quickly grew legions of fans as she shared her meal plans on InstantLoss.com. Armed with a collection of 125 all-new delicious recipes for the Instant Pot, air fryer, and more, Brittany’s latest book shows how to make this a sustainable lifestyle with kid and family-friendly meals—from Strawberry Shortcake Oatmeal to Cowboy Chili to Easy 2-Minute Pork Chops. Members of her growing community have reported losing 50 and even 100 pounds themselves, and this cookbook will help others achieve similar success with simple, delicious meals, nearly all ready in 30 minutes or less.
Analysis: Here, the author is using her own personal journey as a reflection of the struggles of her target audience. She then continues in her narrative by expounding the benefits of her “life-changing” meal plans and ends with aspirational testimonials from her followers to add social proof.
Title: Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally
Are You Ready to Run?
Is there a bridge from the injury-ridden world of the modern runner to the promised land that barefoot running and Born to Run have led us to believe exists? Can we really live the running life free from injury? Is there an approach designed to unlock all the athletic potential that may be hidden within? Can we run faster, longer, and more efficiently?
In a direct answer to the modern runner’s needs, Dr. Kelly Starrett, author of the bestseller Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance, has focused his revolutionary movement and mobility philosophy on the injury-plagued world of running.
Despite the promises of the growing minimalist-shoe industry and a rush of new ideas on how to transform running technique, more than three out of four runners suffer at least one injury per year. Although we may indeed be “Born to Run,” life in the modern world has trashed and undercut dedicated runners wishing to transform their running. The harsh effects of too much sitting and too much time wearing the wrong shoes has left us shackled to lower back problems, chronic knee injuries, and debilitating foot pain.
In this book, you will learn the 12 standards that will prepare your body for a lifetime of top-performance running. You won’t just be prepared to run in a minimalist shoe–you’ll be Ready to Run, period.
In Ready to Run, you will learn:
- The 12 performance standards you must work toward and develop on an ongoing basis
- How to tap into all of your running potential and access a fountain of youth for lifelong running
- How to turn your weaknesses into strengths
- How to prevent chronic overuse injuries by building powerful injury-prevention habits into your day
- How to prepare your body for the demands of changing your running shoes and running technique
- How to treat pain and swelling with cutting-edge modalities and accelerate your recovery
- How to equip your home mobility gym
- A set of mobility exercises for restoring optimal function and range of motion to your joints and tissues
- How to run faster, run farther, and run better
Analysis: This blurb begins with a set of open-ended questions that address the main issue experienced by its target audience (enjoying the runner’s life free of debilitating injuries) and it ends with a large list of bullet points outlining the main lessons of the book, which includes a mix of solutions and aspirational statements.
6) Cookbooks, Food & Wine
Title: The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet
Keto success is achieved by following low-carb principles, but the busy ketogenic dieter may find themselves distracted before reaching their diet destination. The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook is more than a set of keto recipes, it’s a simple, adaptable solution to help maintain your keto diet no matter how hectic your lifestyle.
Perfect for on-the-go keto, The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook provides 125 quick, keto-compliant recipes using a handful of easy-to-find ingredients. These low-carb, one-container meals can easily be modified to fit your own tastes, so you can keep your keto unique and utterly delicious.
With no-fuss recipes and no-nonsense guidance, The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook includes:
- Take five―Try out fast, flavorful, 5-ingredient ketogenic diet recipes with nutritional information (including macros)
- Single container, endless meals―Make cooking and clean-up stress-free with 30-minute, one-pot meals
- Customize your keto―Use substitution tips and delicious variations to easily customize your keto-friendly menu
The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook transforms five everyday ingredients into a lifetime of countless, delicious meals.
Analysis: As a cookbook, this title doesn’t need to follow a compelling problem-solving arc, however, it still loosely follows the same nonfiction blurb formula (problem: busy dieter gets distracted and doesn’t accomplish Keto goals, solution: Keto-compliant recipes with easy-to-find ingredients, Aspiration: endless stress-free meals)
7) Parenting & Relationships
Title: Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive
In Parenting from the Inside Out, child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and early childhood expert Mary Hartzell, M.Ed., explore the extent to which our childhood experiences shape the way we parent. Drawing on stunning new findings in neurobiology and attachment research, they explain how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of the brain, and offer parents a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of their own life stories, which will help them raise compassionate and resilient children.
Born out of a series of parents’ workshops that combined Siegel’s cutting-edge research on how communication impacts brain development with Hartzell’s decades of experience as a child-development specialist and parent educator, this book guides parents through creating the necessary foundations for loving and secure relationships with their children.
Analysis: This book uses the standard blurb formula but following a more academic approach, where the problem-solution-aspiration trifecta is embedded in a scientific narrative.
Once you master the marketing copy of your book blurb, your next step is to create a book introduction that closes the deal!
Best of luck!
If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing or publishing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.