Assuming you did your market research when you began writing this amazing book of yours, you know who your target audience is, and what they want. One of the first things that I look at when I pick up a book is the back cover. It typically gives you a good idea of what the book is about.
In the self-publishing world, your book description is often read on the page the book is found. This is true for all the major book retailers including Amazon. Writing a compelling book description involves giving potential readers an opportunity to learn about your book before they purchase it. This is your time to shine! What will you say to convince readers that this is the book for them?
The Purpose of a Good Book Description
A well-written chapter description is a detailed, descriptive copy that is good for public display, used for your book marketing, book discovery, and for sales purposes. It helps potential buyers find and understand your book. It's your pitch. Your chance to get people interested. And it's your opportunity to get search engines interested as well.
The better your book description, the better your chances of gaining visibility and remaining visible.
Tips on How to Write a Good Book Description
- Describe your chapter in simple, straightforward, and consumer-friendly terms.
- Your description should be at least 150-200 words long.
- Give readers enough information to understand what your book is, what it’s about, and if they’ll like it – key factors in deciding whether to buy your book.
- Consider a prospective online customer hasn’t read the book, can’t physically pick it up, and may not know anything about it yet. If they don’t know the book exists, how would they look for something like it?
- Use paragraph breaks, bold and italic fonts, and other structural elements like ordered lists (bullet points) to provide emphasis and highlight key aspects of your book. Short paragraphs and bulleted lists are better than a single block of text.
- Do not include active hyperlinks in your description.
- Avoid time-sensitive language, so that your description does not become outdated. For example, do not say “latest,” “soon,” “forthcoming,” or “most recent,” and do not refer to “last year” or an author’s “next book.”
- To get ideas for good descriptive copy, read the top consumer reviews for some titles comparative to yours. Great reader reviews often are very effective at explaining books in an enticing, engaging way.
The Structure of a Good Book Description
Start with a clear and punchy headline that highlights the big things that matter about your book from a reader perspective (genre, key topics, and themes, major brands, awards). Get them to want to find out more or simply purchase based on what they’ve read already.
- The headline should be a maximum of 200 characters (roughly 25-30 words). This is what will be seen on retailer pages before consumers are prompted to “read more.”
- Make it bold and follow it with a paragraph break.
- It should have a strong selling focus. Think of this as the “elevator pitch”—less about the plot and specific details, and more about why a busy reader should want this book. If someone didn’t know the book existed, what might they be looking for that would bring them to your book? (Something like, “A beautifully illustrated picture book about bullying, friendship, and learning to stand up for what’s right” beats “Sam and Sally don’t get along.”)
Detailed Explanation or Exposition
The headline should be followed by a detailed explanation of the content. If a consumer clicks to “read more,” you want them to find rich detail about the book.
- 100+ words detailing the notable topics, themes, plot elements, and features of your book
- For fiction titles, this is where you can describe the plot, settings, and key characters.
- For non-fiction, detail the subjects covered and important people, places, and things.
- This is where you can “set the mood” and give readers an idea of the style and tone of your book
- Use paragraph breaks and bulleted lists where appropriate to add structure and break up large blocks of text.
Finally, the copy should end with a strong close, emphasizing the value and why someone should buy your book. If someone has read this far, they are interested. Now make the sale.
- At least 25-50 words.
- Who is the book for? “Fans of …,” “Great gift for…”
- Consider including awards and nominations or a strong review quote.
- Read the chapter at least 3 times and then fill out the questions below.
- Distinguish the main ideas from the details
- Begin with an introductory statement.
- Turn your main ideas into sentences
- Merge sentences into one or two paragraphs
- Use transitioning words to connect the sentences and paragraphs.
- Check punctuation and sentence structure
We created a template for you to use as you craft your book description.
In part 5 of this Treat Your Book as a Business series, we will discuss weaving marketing tactics into the mix for publishing success.
Part 2: Building Your Author Brand