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
Selling Your Book with a
Sizzling Book Cover Design
Independent authors who sell books have great covers. It’s very simple; when we are looking for something to read, if a cover doesn’t catch our eye, we are going to move to the next one. It’s just the way the book world works! If you have an idea what your cover should look like, make sure it does these things:
It does seem contradictory, but here’s what I mean:
When you go to a bookstore or peruse books online, you are usually looking for a particular author or a book that was recommended to you. Alongside the book you are looking for will be other similar books. If a spine catches your eye in the bookstore, or a cover sizzles online, you might be tempted to check it out and then maybe buy it along with the one you were looking for. There will be things these books have in common and things that make particular books stand out. These things are going to be the colors, the fonts, and possibly the images.
If you go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and type in ‘Romance’ in the search window, you will be shown the top sellers in this category. There will be a few covers depicting beautiful people, some that show a scene, others a design. They won’t be much alike but they all will fit in to the genre or category.
The story being told by the artwork, the font(s), and colors points to a story about two people overcoming or struggling with a problem and falling in love. The colors used will be basic and eye catching, the font will generally be white or a light color in a flowing script.
As you are thinking about the design of your book or working with a professional, make sure you browse covers of books that would fit along side yours. Imagine your book cover among these others and ask yourself if it looks like it belongs there and does it stand out.
As a reader looks for a new book to read, they generally are going to stick to what they already know they enjoy. A favorite author, or a friend’s recommendation, perhaps they read a review of a book they think they might like. This is the way it goes for book sales. You need to be known in order to sell, but you have to sell some books in order to be known!
The only way out of the dilemma is to have your book slotted near books that are selling successfully. If you can put your cover in with the books that are popular and make the cover sizzle enough to get a potential buyer curious, you will start to get people clicking on it and potentially buying it.
A great cover contains the following 4 elements:
Communicating what your book is about
People should be able to look at your cover and intuitively know through the artwork and lettering what your topic is. An unclear message will result in unimpressed potential buyers who will click on some other book and cause you to lose a sale.
In fiction, making clear the genre is important. If people don't know your work, and your cover doesn't make it clear what sort of fiction you have written, they generally are not going to bother finding out more. There are lots of other books they can buy!
In non-fiction, you need to convey to potential buyers that you have the expertise to teach them or inform them. They must get the sense that reading your book is going to take care of the need or knowledge gap they are looking to fulfill.
Does the cover convey the essence of your story? Does it convey the genre (if applicable) or the area of expertise being offered (if non-fiction)? A great cover is a mini-story in itself. In a half second our eyes tell us if this is a book we might want to read, so simplicity is crucial but being over simplistic will lose the interest of the buyer. The entire front of the book is the canvas. Any unused space is wasted space.
Convey the feeling of your narrative
The cover should set the tone for the ambiance the audience will feel when reading your work.
Is your work uplifting? Is it instructive? Is it entertaining? What is the general tone of your work? Sad, comic, ironic, informative, authoritative, instructive?
Make sure the cover gives the viewer a sense of what to expect as far as the tone of your writing.
This is mostly done with a visual, but the title, subtitle, colors, and the font you use are also contributing factors.
Vouch for Yourself
The cover needs to convey credibility.
If this is non-fiction, simply putting your degree title can convey credibility. Even more so would be how many people you have helped and/or the number of years you have practiced. Whatever it is that validates you in the subject you have written in needs to be conveyed on your cover.
For both fiction and non-fiction, you can use the sub-title to convey to potential buyers why they should read your book: “internationally known writer of best sellers”, 'a veteran tax consultant', ‘Story teller extraordinaire!”
If you are a new writer, then make sure the genre is made clear, “A new Suspense Novel by: (author's name)” or something similar.
It can also be used as a way to communicate the book's popularity as in “Amazon Top Seller”. Information that will tell the reader this book is valid and needs to be read.
The objective is to give the potential buyer the feeling that this book is worth buying while being honest and brief.
Your cover needs to draw people in
It needs to sizzle!
This is the most intuitive part of a book cover. It needs to 'pop' so that people are instantly drawn to click it and read more or pick it up in a bookstore to read the back cover and see what it's about.
Why is your story is interesting? Does it teach something? Does it fulfill a purpose? Is it an intriguing whodunnit? A classic romance? A Sci-fi projection of future technology?
Distill what is interesting about your book
Close your eyes and think of an image that is representative of that concept
Sketch out this image or describe it in detail (if you are like me and can’t draw beyond stick figures!)
Try this in different ways, different concepts. When you can’t think of anything else, compare them and combine or decide which represents the more appealing image. One that will sizzle and draw buyers to your book.
Once you have a few ideas, run them buy your friends or list of readers if you have one. Getting their feedback can be valuable in deciding on the right concept.
For more information on getting the best cover for you book click here:
In my next blog, I will talk about the second most important marketing tool for you book: The Book Description or Sales Copy.
Remember, every failure is step in the direction to success. Don’t quit!
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