If your book title grabs a potential buyer, the next place he or she will likely look is the book description. If written effectively, this short blurb, on the back cover or inside flap of printed books, can be an effective sales tool.
About the book description
- The description is an ad, not a summary—Your book description should be designed and written to make people want to read your book. Think of it as the trailer for a movie. How do you do that? By sharing evocative tidbits—a mystery that your book will solve (e.g., Who killed Harry?); by stating an issue or problem that your book deals with (e.g., How to lose 5 pounds in 10 days!). The key is to trigger potential buyer’s or reader’s interest enough so that they have to buy your book to find out more.
- The first line—As in any written work, the first line of your description needs to grab a potential reader. Put something in that sentence or question or bullet that compels the person to read the rest of the description. Maybe use a type-font or color that grabs the eye.
- What’s in it for them?—Your description should make potential readers want to read the whole book. It should hit them on some personal level (e.g., intrigue, new information). It should trigger some intellectual or emotional desire to find out more. Will they enjoy or get something for having spent lots of hours reading your book? How will they benefit? You’re selling results here.
- Sell the steak, not just the sizzle—Your description needs to contain some compelling key words or trigger words that will draw people into the full content. For fiction, maybe provide a plot leader. For non-fiction, perhaps you could provide a few key elements of the process you’re going to take the reader through. Bullets can sometimes be used to emphasize key points. In any case, don’t give it all away. Your description should compel a potential reader to get your book to find out all the answers.
- References—If you’ve written other books, it can be helpful to state that in the description. Likewise, if you have a reference from some famous or authoritative source that can help sell your book, put that in, too.
How to write an effective book description
- Word count—Your description should contain 1-3 short paragraphs for a total of about 150-250 words.
- Keep it simple—Use short, clear sentences. This is not a book summary or an essay. Grab potential readers, don’t lose them in a lot of words.
- Don’t write as the author—Write your description in a third-person objective voice, perhaps as the publisher. This is how an “outsider” would describe your book.
The book description is an important element in selling your work. And it’s often true that authors are too close to their work, and too emotionally involved, to effectively write their own book description. If that’s your case, you might ask a someone else to write it—a relative, a friend, or a colleague. It may be even more effective to ask a professional in the writing or book community to write it.
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