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Creating a Book Description that SIZZLES.
On one of my recent projects I struggled with why the book was not getting sales. I had put together what I thought were some great ads for the book and we were getting about 4% CTR (click through rate- the % of people seeing the ad who actually clicked on it) which is great. But people were not buying.
I had designed a great cover and gone over the book description with the author. Everything looked good. I fiddled with the ads, I researched and found more relevant authors to target, and I even considered making a change to the cover which would have cost us some money.
Then I decided to take a harder look at the sales copy (book description). It was fine in describing what the book was about (a positive message about faith and togetherness) but it didn’t ‘sizzle’.
When we are looking for a book, we click on a cover that conveys something we want to read and looks interesting. That takes us to the short blurb which informs us a bit more, and hopefully makes us want to buy the book and read or listen to it. It has to pull at us emotionally or make us curious intellectually; hopefully it does both.
So I got the author’s permission to tinker with the sales copy and I added more sizzle to it by evoking some emotions. I smoothed it out, trimmed it a bit, made it professional and ...it worked.
That same day the book went from zero sales to ranking #1 in eight different categories. I am not making that up. The day before I changed the sales copy there were no sales. The very same day I changed it, the book shot up in the rankings going from an overall Amazon rank of around 500,000 to ranking in the top 25,000 and ranking #1 in eight of the ten categories we had placed it in. All with just one tweak: The book description.
As an author, I never gave much thought to writing the description. It’s just that summary on the back cover after all. A couple paragraphs, no big deal right? That could not be more wrong. I found out that in marketing a book that small, couple paragraph long blurb is what closes the deal for you with potential buyers. The cover gets them there, the sales copy sells it to them.
So, how do you write a description that will work? We are writers and most of us tend to think because we have mastered the art of writing a novel, a short little blurb to describe our book is going to be easy. I mean, I just wrote 100,000 words worth of a great story, I can write a couple paragraphs telling people what the book is about!
This is a mistake however. That two paragraphs is going to be essential to the number of people who will read your 100,000 word novel. It needs to be taken seriously. You could hire a professional like me to do it for you, (shameless promo) but if you follow a few simple steps, it can be done by any writer I think.
Step 1: Know your audience. Who do you envision buying your book? This has to do with genre, knowledge, or area of expertise. Did you write an epic fantasy? Then you want readers who enjoy that genre. Did you write a book on home repair? You are targeting do-it-yourselfers and new home owners maybe.
Sit down and write out who you see buying your book. Have this audience firmly in mind as you write out ideas for your sales copy.
Step 2: Capture your book’s essence. Write out the theme of your book. Don’t worry about making it short at this point, concentrate on getting the idea down on paper. You want the heart of your story.
Step 3: Include the major character(s) in your work (if fiction). Readers love good characters. People they would like to fall in love with, have a beer with, or people they would like to beat to a pulp, see go to jail, etc.
If this is non-fiction historical, then you should include the major person(s) you have written about.
For non-fiction expertise, write out the problem you are solving and talk about yourself; what makes you the expert to solve that problem.
Step 4: For Fiction, write out what the story is going to feel like. What emotions are you going to invoke in the reader as they devour your story. For non-fiction be sure to give the buyer a vision of what it will feel like to have the expertise and/or knowledge you are about to impart to them.
Step 5: Once you have it all written out, read it out loud to see if there is anything you are missing. Make any changes you think are necessary then start to whittle it down. Use a thesaurus to find shorter phrases or even one word to convey each thought. Take out any characters that are not essential to the core of your story. Keep doing this again and again until you start losing some of the meaning of your story. Hopefully, you get it down to just a couple paragraphs.
Step 6: Write it again. Go through the same process but try some new angle. Remember to put a emotion into it. Do this until you have at least three and up to five different versions of your sales copy. You want each to entice the buyer into finding out what your story is, make them want to click that buy button or take the book to the sales desk in the bookstore. They just have to find out what happens in this book! Make it sizzle!
Now, email it to your friends and family. Hopefully you have a list of people who have agreed to give you an opinion and one day read your book and post a review for it. Ask this ‘street team’ to vote on which sales copy they like best. The one getting the most votes is the one you want to use.
I’d love to hear from you. Any thoughts or questions are welcome! Also for help in writing your sales copy or designing your cover, write me here: MJ Albert Books