It's tough to write a 70,000 word book, but it's just as tough to write a book description of a few hundred words. Bryan Cohen from Selling For Authors outlines some common issues and actionable takeaways to help you improve your book description.
Readers learn a lot about you from reading your book description. Unfortunately, the things they glean from your blurb aren’t always positive.
The several-hundred word description of your latest work needs proper time and attention to convey the right messages about you and your books.
Here are 5 things your description might say about you:
(1) You Write Boring Books
Most book descriptions are about as appealing as a moldy sponge. They go to great lengths to name characters (first, last, and middle names), explain side plots, and provide dubiously important information along the way. The final result is that your book sounds boring, and the readers who stumble upon your product description have no reason to question their first impression.
When you take the time to craft an engaging blurb with a strong hook, however, readers get a different impression. If your description effectively conveys the emotion and entertainment of your book, then you can turn casual browsers into buyers.
Takeaway: Use a strong hook and a compelling synopsis to draw readers in.
(2) Your Book Is Very Confusing
Somewhere along the way, authors got the strange notion that book descriptions can only have five or six sentences. Instead of questioning this assertion, they’ve turned their blurbs into a grammar school student’s worst sentence diagramming nightmare. Nobody likes a clause junkie who uses four or more commas per sentence. If you’re packing your description with overly complex sentence structure, then readers will assume your book is likewise too complicated to understand.
The description is not the time to explain everything there is to know about a character, setting, or plot. You can save the full backstory for the book itself. As you write your blurb, focus on one main character trait and one main plot thread. Too much more will overwhelm the reader and keep her from pressing the buy button. Simple always wins.
Takeaway: Use more simple, declarative sentences and keep backstory and side plots to a minimum.
(3) Your Book Isn’t Professional
If your description contains grammar or punctuation errors, then readers will assume your book contains errors as well. If your book description is formatted in a strange way or it’s one giant blob of text, then readers will guess your book has the same problems. If your book description doesn’t seem professional, then readers will assume your book isn’t professional.
The easiest fix for this is to get your editor to read over your description and to see how it looks live before you begin your major launch promotions. Don’t let a reader or a friend be the one to point out errors in your product description. Catch them now to preserve sales later.
Takeaway: Get someone to edit your blurb and double check how it looks online.
(4) You Write Books I’m Not Interested In
Let’s say you’ve covered your bases for the above three points. Your description is compelling, concise, and it’s free of errors. The next step is to make sure you’re effectively conveying the right genre. It isn’t enough to put your book in the appropriate category with the proper keywords. If your book is an action-packed thriller but you fail to mention that, then you may lose people who are on the verge of making the purchase.
You may feel silly using flowery adjectives to describe your own book, but you need to think like a publisher. A publishing company would never hold back from trying to sell one one of its books. You bet the company would describe an enchanting fantasy novel as “mesmerizing, breathtaking, and a treat for the imagination.” You need to to the exact same thing. Don’t let your modesty get the best of you.
Takeaway: Make your book sound interesting with appropriate and enticing adjectives.
(5) You Don’t Care If I Buy Your Book
In an ideal world, our readers would be intently focused on our product description while calmly sipping a mug of tea and marveling at the enormity of their gargantuan checking account balance. In reality, these casual browsers have your book page open on one of 20 Internet tabs while they’re keeping the kids from setting the house on fire as they think about the overdue electricity bill. Our potential customers are distracted, they’re busy, and they’re probably on a budget. To coax them to spend money on your book, you have to encourage them to take action.
Using a clear Call to Action (CTA) at the end of your description is a must. Sometimes just asking a reader to “scroll up and buy to start the adventure today,” is enough to cut through the overstimulated, multi-tasking, budget-conscious barriers that block them from purchasing your book. Failure to use a CTA puts you at the mercy of the constant clicking of your overwhelmed potential customer.
Takeaway: Use a Call to Action at the end of your description.
Your work isn’t over just because you completed the book. The most important words you write may be part of the simple, emotional, and intriguing description that goes online for all to see. Make sure your blurb sends the right message.
Bryan Cohen writes descriptions, books, and self-publishing news stories.
Do you want to create descriptions that get readers excited to buy?
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