Book descriptions are short and, they’re about the amazing book you just wrote. So, why is it so hard to write? Because your brain is still engaged in the novel-writing process, it’s time to switch to your marketing brain, the one that knows how to write a book description that entices readers and sells books. That’s right, now that you have the finished manuscript and are set to package it for sales, your book has transformed into a product.
Download the free PDF worksheet, and keep reading to learn how to write a book description that hooks readers.
Book Descriptions are really Product Descriptions.
You get only a few visible lines of copy before your book description is hidden behind a Read More link. So start with your most impactful selling point. This is your Hook Sentence and, it will be the lead for each version of your book description: the elevator pitch, social media pitch, bio blurb, and opening line for all points of sale. It also is the lead-in for your back cover or book flap description.
What makes a good Hook?
You want to catch the reader’s attention from the first line. What’s the most compelling element of your story? For fiction, that could be the uniqueness of the main character or where the story takes place. You give the reader a peek at the beginning and share the initiating conflict that drives the story.
Non-fiction books inherently give the promise of transformation. State the issue your book addresses and how reading it will bring the reader a solution or understanding of the subject.
Fiction: include the initiating action and the problem your character(s) must overcome. Non-Fiction: state the problem your book will solve for the reader.
What else goes into a book description?
Include what makes your story unique
- Type of story
- Unique characters or personalities
Give the reader something to identify with.
- Readers want to connect with the story, whether it’s the setting, the problem, or the characters.
- What will the reader learn from your book?
Why is your approach to the topic unique?
- Unique process
- New insights
- Case studies
What is the benefit to the reader?
- Gain expertise
- Learn a new skill or way of doing something
- Expand understanding of a topic
Copyediting your book description.
Copyediting is an art. This is where you add the proverbial paint, nuances, and shine to your book description. Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, you apply the same technique.
- Match the tone used in your book
- Language and word choice should match your book. It’s the same audience, don’t get clever or try to use “smart” words when plain language is needed.
- Vary the lengths of your sentences. Our brains check out if it discerns a predictable pattern. Your hook is naturally long. The following sentence should give the eye and the ear a rest that leads compellingly to the following sentence and the next.
- Editing for conciseness sometimes leads to repeating a key point, benefit, or particular words. Avoid repeating words or talking points and make each word and sentence work for the right to stay. Repeating bits can annoy the reader who wants clarity, not repetition.
- Read it aloud – it’s not Shakespeare, but it still needs to please the inner ear.
Where to use your book descriptions.
This is precisely how it sounds. If an elevator ride is one minute and the attention span of the person next to you is half that, you need to pique their interest in a single sentence that makes them want more. As you network at conferences or strike up conversations at parties and coffee shops, this extraordinarily well-crafted and concise pitch is what makes your book and you memorable. Practice pitching to family and even strangers so you can deliver it with confidence and enthusiasm when it comes to pitching to an agent.
Write multiple versions of your elevator pitch and perfect to under 200 characters. This leaves room for a link to your website or point of sales, plus it allows you to test which version is most effective in getting people to click for more information. Your social networks are your platform for reaching readers and asking for a share across their connections to connect with an even larger audience. Don’t spam your followers, but do ask for their opinion on your pitch. You’ll find support from unexpected places, and the feedback is truly a gift.
This is the opener for your long pitch and is what’s visible above the Read More expansion link. It’s also great to tag onto your personal Bio and gives you options to handle different character restrictions online. Use it on your back book cover or inside flap.
Depending on your point of sale, you’ll have an option for a longer description. If book buyers love your Hook and click to learn more, then this version is the closer for book sales. You can even tack on review blurbs from other authors or credible book review sites. It’s all social proof that your book will deliver the quality and enjoyment the reader wants. Use it on your back book cover or inside flap.
Make a “Go Bag” for your book.
Don’t wait until you’re on an agent’s website to start writing your book description. Instead, take the same level-headed care you used to write your manuscript in presenting your work.
Package your book cover, personal Bio, full summary, and book descriptions. Having these on hand speeds up your response time for submission requests, website updates, and setting up your point of sales. It also ensures consistency at all reader touch-points, a hallmark of effective brand marketing.
Ready to get started? Download our workbook to begin crafting the key parts of your book description and package it for everywhere (and every version) you need.