Part 1: Genre analysis of blurbs
Blurbs are a genre of writing that consists of short, truncated pieces of text that are meant to grab an audience's attention and get them interested in a larger work. Examples of blurbs include those found on dust jackets of books, and the text found on the back covers of DVDs, books, albums and the like. They are a common method of advertising for these types of media, and for any product that needs a short, enticing description to draw the consumer in. They are hardly ever more than one or two paragraphs, and often superlative language is used in the text. Punctuation more often than not includes exclamation points for emphasis, or rhetorical questions to get the audience interested in the answer (e.g. "But...is everything as it seems?").
When creating a blurb, several factors are kept in mind, including the moves and steps of the genre of blurbs. The primary moves of blurbs are a) description, b) evaluation, and c) about the author. Descriptions absolutely have to happen in every blurb, since the purpose of the blurb is to tell the potential reader about the book, to see if they are interested in reading the rest. Evaluation occurs when it is described in either a positive or negative way; since blurbs are usually used in advertising, this evaluation is positive - "this thrilling movie," or "the one-of-a-kind thriller" are examples of this. Critic's quotes can also be lumped in with evaluations in blurbs (e.g. "'Thumbs Up!' says Roger Ebert").
The 'About the author' move involves a description of the author, including his or her life, their background and interests. It serves to humanize the author and make him or her more relatable, and also helps to establish a pedigree so that you can trust whether or not they are a skilled and qualified author for the subject matter.
First, the language must be kept vague enough to be accessible, but specific enough to inform the potential customer of the interesting content the book/DVD/etc holds. A blurb gives a short burst of information that often sells the primary gimmick or premise of the content in order to interest the consumer. They can also often remind the consumer of the pedigree from which this content comes from ("from the author of...", cast members and previous works after character names in movie blurbs), in order to associate this new product with a previous product that the consumer enjoyed. The implication is that, because you liked X in Y, you will like X in Z.
Part 2: Textual analysis of blurbs
1) Highly Regarded: this phrase means well-respected, well thought of, and so on. It is meant to applaud the author, and to tell the audience that the author is someone who knows what they are talking about. By telling the audience that the author is 'highly regarded,' they are telling the audience to highly regard them too, and thus will be more inclined to buy the product.
Example: "Robert Dallek is one of the most highly regarded historians in America, and the author of six books." (An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, by Robert Dallek. Barnes & Noble)
2) Acclaimed: This word means something is praised enthusiastically or celebrated. When something is 'acclaimed,' the implication is that it is thought of as good by a wide variety of people, especially authorities in the genre ('critically-acclaimed' movies, etc.).
Example: "...the author of six books, including the acclaimed two-volume of Lyndon Johnson, Lone Star Rising and Flawed Giant. "(An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, by Robert Dallek. Barnes & Noble)
3) Nominated: This word is used when the product being discussed is put into consideration for an award. Academy-Award nominated films are thought to be of superior quality, and Grammy-nominated records are considered the best in the industry. It is a means of assigning a certification of quality to these products. When something is nominated for an award, that means it is also 'acclaimed' and 'highly regarded,' but refers to a more specific endorsement by an organization (like the MPAA).
Example: "His Franklin D Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy won the 1980 Bancroft Prize and was nominated for an American Book Award." (An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, by Robert Dallek. Barnes & Noble)
Adjectives are a very important and widely-used part of the blurb; as the whole point of a blurb is to describe the product it is advertising, it is very important to use adjectives. This type of grammar is used to imbue the book/movie/TV show with qualities that are thought of as positive, and in line with what the customer is looking for. Calling something 'hilarious' and 'over-the-top funny' would appeal to someone looking for a comedy movie or show; 'poignant' and 'heartfelt' can bring in someone who wishes to look for a dramatic or romantic film or book. 'Action-packed' and 'thrilling' are adjectives used often in action movies to ensure the potential consumer that it does, indeed, fulfill the needs they require in a piece of media.
For example, the blurb for the 2010 film Inception makes sure to describe every detail with an appropriate adjective. Instead of 'filmmaker Christopher Nolan,' the blurb says 'Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan,' who 'directs an international cast' about a man who 'could pull off the perfect crime.' These superlatives help to indicate that Nolan is well-recognized as being a good director, the cast is diverse and exotic, and the events in the movie are going to be intriguing, as one wonders how the "perfect" crime will be pulled off. These adjectives are meant to entice the viewer and make sure they are both invested in the premise of the product, and to let them know that it was made by people who know what they are doing. With the help of adjectives, they can introduce elements in a way that seem appealing to those who want to buy them.
Part 3: Create two blurbs/written explanation of blurbs (Ch. 1 of Physics for Future Presidents)
Have you ever wondered what energy is, and how it is turned into power? Acclaimed author Richard A. Muller takes you into the fascinating world of physics, especially as it pertains to using energy to run our world, in his informative chapter "Energy and Power, and the Physics of Explosions." Muller takes you on a wondrous journey through the application of energy, showing you the ins and outs of calories, kilowatt-hours, and the future of alternative energy.
This blurb uses plenty of adjectives to describe the content and the author - 'acclaimed,' 'fascinating,' 'informative' and so on. This is meant to inspire awe, and the question lead-in is meant to imply that this book has the answer to a question the buyer may not have known they had in mind. Applying the lessons directly to everyday use emphasizes its current relevance to everyday life, and the future of the consumer (through mentioning alternative energy). This blurb targets a more novice mind to the scientific field, who does not know a whole lot, but wants to be introduced to more advanced concepts. This blurb is effective in making the audience excited about science, and makes them think about the intellectual benefits of reading the book.
Energy runs our world - but the way in which it does may shock you! Follow noted physics professor Richard A. Muller as he explains how energy is converted into power, and the various ways in which it is represented. From kinetic energy to calories, the amazing and mysterious world of energy will be opened up to you - all straight from the mind of one of America's most highly regarded physicists. Pick up this highly informative, intriguing chapter and learn more about your world than you ever thought possible!
The start of the blurb with an exclamation is meant to excite the reader, letting them gain enthusiasm for what lay ahead in the rest of the blurb (and the book itself). Calling Muller 'noted' and 'highly regarded' emphasizes his status as a celebrated figure in the field, and the reigning authority on this subject. Those looking for an authoritative answer to their questions (which they already have, since this blurb is not asking them) will be intrigued by the pedigree of the answers contained in the chapter. This blurb targets individuals with more of an intermediate interest in science, and who are looking for further reading into specific aspects of science. I believe this helps to identify a noted figure in the field, and an authority that those interested in science can identify with.
Muller, R.. Physics for future presidents: the science behind the headlines. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2008. Print.