Now that you have done your keyword research, it’s time to create your book description (or blurb). An effective book description entices readers and gets them interested in your book. The description should be descriptive, intriguing, and build interest. It’s essentially a sales pitch for your book.
Your description should give readers just enough information to decide if your book is right for them. A good length for a book description is somewhere between 150-250 words.
It should also be easy to read. Luckily, Amazon allows authors to add paragraphs, bold text, bullet points, etc. to highlight certain sections. We will go over how to format your book descriptions later on.
The main components of the book description are:
- The headline/tagline
- The blurb
- The wrap-up
Let’s go over each section in more detail now. I have divided each section for both fiction and nonfiction.
How to Create an Effective Headline/Tagline:
On your book’s product page, you will see the cover, title, price, and description. Depending on the text size you decide to use for this area (more on this later), Amazon displays the first 3-5 lines of text without having to click “Read more.
The headline (or tagline) should go in this area. The job of your headline is to hook readers and get them interested in your book. All great book descriptions should have a strong headline.
As a result, you have a limited amount of space to grab your readers’ attention. Aim to limit your headline to no more than 200 characters, or about 25 words, to ensure it’s all viewable without having to click “read more”. However, depending on your text size, this may be less.
You should include a catchy tagline to hook readers. A tagline is basically a short catchy sentence that highlights the story of your book. The tagline should compliment the book’s title and cover. Think of it as a powerful slogan for your book.
Here is an example of strong tagline:
“THE CIA UNLEASHED HIM…
NOW THEY WANT HIM DEAD.”
(From Noble Beginnings: A Jack Noble Thriller)
As you can see, the tagline uses words such as “unleased” and “dead” to get your attention. It compels you to keep reading since you’re left asking “Why does the CIA want him dead?”
Aim to keep your tagline short, sweet, and impactful. One-liners often well; however, this will depend on your story, tone, and genre.
Ask yourself, what is the main thing you want readers to know about your story? Is it the main character or the conflict? What are the stakes?
Although writing taglines can be tricky, it does get easier with practice. Don’t feel you have to write the perfect tagline on your first try. Block out some time and write a bunch of taglines to see what you come with. Test out various taglines to see which ones you like best. Here are few things you can try:
“HE WANTED PEACE …
BUT WHAT HE FOUND WAS A WAR WORTH FIGHTING.”
(From First Strike (A Brady Hawk Novel Book 1))
“A CONDEMNED HERO.
AN UNLIKELY ALLY.”
(From Vengeance Calling: An Action Thriller Novel (David Rivers Book 4))
Incorporating an incomplete thought or sentence:
A Marine sniper came to town to drown his demons. But demons fight back…
(From Adrift: A Marine Sniper Thriller (Daniel Briggs Book 1))
Including a quote from the book:
“I lost track of the drinks…
Deeper and deeper I go…
This next stop may be my last.”
(From Fallen (Daniel Briggs Book 2))
Mentioning an award or positive review:
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Lee Child returns with a gripping new powerhouse thriller featuring Jack Reacher, “one of this century’s most original, tantalizing pop-fiction heroes” (The Washington Post).
Here are some tips to keep in mind for your tagline:
- Highlight a unique aspect of your story that readers would be interested in.
- Be specific. Being too general or vague is just going to confuse readers.
- Highlight the main conflict in the story. What’s at stake for your main character? What do they have to lose?
- Get readers curious by creating some intrigue or tension. Get them to ask questions.
- Make it flow. Your tagline should have a nice rhythm and flow to it.
- Try using some unique or uncommon words that readers won’t be expecting.
- Test out various taglines with readers to get their feedback.
- Check out some of the taglines from other books in your genre to get some ideas.
- Keep your tagline consistent with your book’s tone, story, and theme. If your tagline is serious but your story is lighthearted, readers are going to be confused.
- Try using different taglines in your marketing materials (such as emails, Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, etc.) to see which ones convert well.
As for nonfiction, I recommend including a strong-benefit driven headline at the top of the description.
For instance, if you are selling a book that shows readers how to improve their reading speed, a potential headline could be:
“Boost your reading speed by 50% in 21 days”
Obviously, this statement should be true and be achievable for readers. Otherwise, they will feel tricked and be likely to leave a poor review.
You can also highlight a specific pain point readers are likely to be struggling with. For instance, if you are selling a book about investing, a common struggle readers may have is not having investment experience. So one headline you could write to tackle this obstacle is:
“How to build a profitable portfolio – even if you have no investment experience”
10 Headline Templates to Hook Your Readers
Here are some popular headline templates that master copywriters have been using for years. Feel free to adapt them to suit your needs and audience.
#1: How to (achieve desired results)
“How to” headlines are probably the simplest yet most effective headlines. As readers, we’re drawn to headlines that help us to achieve what we want.
Example: How to Prevent Tooth Loss
#2: (Achieve a desired result) in (time frame)
We all want to do things but we’re often overwhelmed where to start. This headline works because it helps readers to take small actionable steps towards their goal. However, whatever advice you give, make sure that your readers can actually implement them in the time given.
Example: Lose 7 pounds in 30 days
#3: Proven: The Most Effective Way to (Achieve Desired Results)
As readers, we’re always skeptical of the claims that advertisers make. The word “proven” helps to address these doubts and adds credibility. This is because when something is “proven” it implies that it’s backed up by research. The words “most effective” also make readers take notice and compel them to continue reading.
Example: Proven: The Most Effective Way to Reduce Credit Card Debt
#4: The Secret to (Achieve Desired Results)
The word “secret” is one of those words that draws readers in. It creates the perception that you know something valuable you’re willing to share.
Example: The Secret to Becoming Financially Stable
#5: Get Rid of (Persistent Problem) Once and for All
Getting rid of a problem is great, but to get rid of it forever, that’s even better. This headline works best for problems that recur in the reader’s life.
Example: Get Rid of Morning Migraines Once and for All
#6: Do You Suffer from (Problem)?
Questions are a powerful way to engage readers. It gets them to slow down and to think about the question. This headline relates to the reader’s pain by asking about their problem. It also qualifies them by getting the appropriate readers to answer “yes” and implies that you can help them.
Example: Do You Suffer from Social Anxiety?
The “introducing” headline is effective since it conveys something new and exciting. It piques readers’ interest and makes them wonder what this new thing is.
Example: Introducing a Proven Way to a Better Night’s Sleep
#8: We promise…
You can promise something that your readers want. When promising something, be sure that it’s something that is believable and that you can deliver.
Example: We Promise you will be 10% Happier After Reading This Book…
#9: Who Else Wants…
The “Who Else Wants…” headline takes advantage of social proof. We believe that if everyone else wants it, it must be good, so we don’t want to be left out.
Example: Who Else Wants Inner Peace?
#10: Use a customer review
If you have any great customer reviews, you can use them as a headline. Positive reviews are a great way to provide social proof and show how you’ve helped others. This will compel readers to read on since they will be wondering if you can help them too.
Example: “Reading Gundi’s book gives you the ‘Kick in the Pants’ motivation of a Tony Robbins event”. – Frank Kelso, Author
When writing your headline, focus on clarity. It’s not about writing the wittiest headline. It’s about getting your customers to continue reading. If you’re unsure about your headline, ask yourself whether your friends would understand what you were offering if they were to read it.
Here are some examples of good headlines:
WARNING: Do Not Read This Book If You Hate Money
(From The 1-Page Marketing Plan)
The word “warning” in capital letters pulls us in and gets us curious. After all, who hates money!?
Unlock Countless Content Ideas. Sell Your Products And Services With Ease. Get Your Content to Work Harder For You.
(From The One Hour Content Plan)
This “headline” is a bit longer and is comprised of 3 main benefits. However, it has a nice flow and highlights what the book offers.
Other tips to keep in mind for your headline:
– Mention any awards to build social proof
– Bold the headline to ensure it stands out
– Increase the font size
– Create a paragraph break after the headline to ensure its clean
– Try different variations and see which one gets more clicks and sales
I recommend writing at least 5-10 variations of your headlines. The more headlines you write, the more likely you will find one that works. It’s similar to shooting a basketball. The more shots you take, the more you’re likely to get in. Your first shot may not get in but if you take 20 of them, chances are you’re going to make a few shots (and maybe even make a couple of swishes too).
If your book is nonfiction, be sure that the benefit that you list in the headline is extremely desirable to readers. If you’re mentioning a problem, be sure that it’s a painful one that readers want to avoid. This is important since you want to grab your readers’ attention right away and get them to read more. Be specific.
Also, be sure that your headline/tagline compliments your title and cover. Remember, your headline/tagline is part of your entire offer.
Lastly, don’t overcomplicate things when writing your headline or tagline. Use the KISS principle: keep it super simple.
Extra Tips To Supercharge Your Book Descriptions
Here are some final tips to keep in mind to optimize your book descriptions:
Engage with descriptive words
Descriptive words help to captivate and engage readers. They add personality to your copy. Descriptive words make your readers see, hear, smell, taste, or feel what you’ve written.
The more you can engage your readers, the more you can get them to take action.
Some examples of descriptive words are smooth, soft, silky, plush, bright, to name a few.
Go through your copy and see if there are any words you can add or improve. To illustrate, here are a few different ways to express these words below:
Cold = chilly, freezing, crisp, icy, frigid, cool, brisk, chilled
Find = discover, uncover, detect, explore, locate, spot
Advanced = leading, progressive, state-of-the-art, breakthrough, leading-edge, radical, exceptional
Luxurious = affluent, lavish, lush, grand, plush, extravagant, deluxe, fancy, posh, ritzy, upscale, splendid
If you’re having trouble coming up with descriptive words, you can go to sites like http://www.thesaurus.com/ to find adjectives to use.
Try not to overdo it though since including too many adjectives can make your copy difficult to read.
If you try to appeal to everyone, you end up attracting no one. The key is to be specific. The more specific you can be, the more your target readers will be able to relate to your book.
Describe the main character, conflict, and stakes, so that readers know what they will be getting when reading the blurb.
If it’s nonfiction, accurately describe the specific benefits readers will be getting. Highlight the specific pain points and show how your book can help them.
Watch out for typos, grammar mistakes, and awkward phrases
Whether you decide to write your own book blurb or hire someone to do it for you, be sure that you/they have a good understanding of the language. Many blurbs I have come across were filled with typos or awkward sentences.
A spellchecker, such as Grammarly, is a great tool to check for spelling and grammar errors. However, you should still proofread your text to check for mistakes.
Read your description out loud and rewrite anything that sounds awkward or “off”. Having someone else read it will help you to spot mistakes. “Then” and “than” and “your” and “you’re” are some common mistakes that people tend to make. Mistakes like these will make you appear unprofessional.
Get other people’s feedback
Besides checking your own work, I recommend having someone else (such as a friend or family member) to read it over. When you get too close to your work, it’s easy to miss simple errors or mistakes. Having someone else check your work provides a fresh set of eyes.
Preferably, the person checking your work should have some editing experience. However, even if they don’t, getting their feedback is helpful. Your goal isn’t to have them spot all of your mistakes but to get their thoughts on your description.
Keep what’s necessary
Scrap any redundant words and sentences. If a word or sentence doesn’t add value to your message, delete it. Reading out each sentence will help you to determine what to keep.
Make it flow
Ensure that each sentence and paragraph flows smoothly. Watch out for abrupt changes and use transitions. Each sentence and paragraph should stand on its own.
Highlight any important words or sentences. However, don’t overdo it since having too many bold or underlined words can make it difficult to read.
Make it scannable
Nothing scares readers more than a huge wall of text. Use headlines, bullets, and short paragraphs to break up text. Use short sentences to maximize readability.
Try not to have more than five sentences per paragraph. Make your sentences short and sweet. Limit sentences to around 12 words or less.
Replace complex words with simpler words and longer words with shorter words. “Find” is simpler than “acquire” and “small” is shorter than “minuscule”. This makes your text easier to read and less wordy.
Aim for perfection but accept imperfection
One thing I’ve learned with writing is that it will never be perfect. The perfect book description simply doesn’t exist. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be producing subpar work. Aim to produce the best work possible but don’t become too caught up with perfection. It takes time to develop as a writer so realize the more descriptions that you write, the better your skills will be. Take it one description at a time.
Use an outline
Just like you would outline your book, you should create an outline for your description. Outlining your description will make it easier to write. Remember, you want a headline/tagline to get readers’ attention, the blurb to highlight your story, and wrap-up to get readers to buy it.
Write more than one draft
This includes writing multiple headlines/taglines, first sentences, call to actions, etc. By writing multiple drafts, you’re increasing the chances that you will write something great.
Entice readers but leave some mystery
Get readers excited with an awesome description but don’t give away the whole plot. You want to get readers intrigued and curious as to what is going to happen next. If your book is fiction, end with a strong cliff hanger. If it’s nonfiction, entice readers with strong benefits and paint a compelling picture.
Make it consistent
Be sure your description is reflective of your book’s story. If your book’s tone is dark and serious, don’t write the description as light-hearted. Keep it consistent.
Test, test, and test
The only way to determine if a description is working is by testing. Upload one version of your description and leave it up for a couple weeks. Then change one aspect of it, such as the headline, and see if the description converts to more sales.
Also, get feedback from readers and fans. If you have a website or fan page, set up a poll and see which book descriptions get the most votes. By doing this, you will be able to see what’s working and what’s not.
Focus on getting reviews
Customer reviews are the lifeblood of an Amazon book. A book with lots of great reviews will likely get more sales than one with lots of negative reviews or very few reviews.
An easy way to ask for reviews is to include a link in your book. You can do this by including a review link at the end of your book with its ASIN number like so:
Reach out to readers who would be interested in reading your book and willing to leave a review. If you already have an email list or fan page, you can let readers know when you release a new book.
Consider joining groups where your target readers would likely hang out and reaching out to them. However, be sure that you are actually providing value in the group with helpful suggestions and tips before asking for reviews. Otherwise, the members will see your marketing efforts “tacky” and be turned off.