How to Write a Good Book Description
If there was such a thing as a simple step-by-step guide for how to write a good book description, we’d all be sharing the best seller spot on Amazon.
A book description is one of your most powerful tools to drive sales. With millions of stories for potential readers to choose from, it isn’t enough for you to only invest in a professional cover design and come up with an eye-catching title for your book. These are both necessary and effective at drawing your target audience in, but a bad book description will be a huge roadblock and is most likely to turn potential new readers away.
Why is it so important to know how to write a good book description?
Simply put, your book description is a reader’s first glimpse at your story, so it needs to be reflective of what’s found between the pages of your book in everything from tone to style. If your book description is over-complicated, riddled with typos, or too vague to make an impression, this doesn’t bode well for sales.
I know, this probably isn’t what you want to hear if you’ve already invested time, money, and resources into editing your book and marketing it far and wide. But if you haven’t taken the time to polish the all-important <500 words that exist for the sole purpose of selling your book, you can’t blame a reader for assuming you haven’t put much effort into polishing its contents either.
While there isn’t a step-by-step method for how to write the perfect book description, there are some tips you should always follow to give your book its best shot at finding the right audience.
Tip 1: Proofread your book description
If you’re self-publishing your book, you should already be familiar with proofreading and will understand exactly why it’s so important. The same applies to your book description but even more so, as this is the first impression you’ll make on a potential new reader.
Be sure that there are no typos or spelling mistakes in your book description, and if you don’t have a freelance proofreader on hand to assist, try asking a bunch of your close friends and relatives to give it a read-through before you publish.
You could also contact me! I’m a trained proofreader and professional word nerd with an eagle eye for typos and a good knowledge of style guides. Click here now for more information about my editorial services and rates.
Tip 2: Get to the point
I mentioned <500 words earlier in this blog post, but if you can halve that number or sell your book in even less words, do!
Your book description isn’t a synopsis, and the reader doesn’t need to know every little detail of the story. After all, this would only spoil the surprise when they start reading it later on! Consider the most important aspects of your plot and the elements of it that make your story unique from the rest, then focus on these to guide you in writing your book description.
Tip 3: Keep it simple
Your book description isn’t the place to showcase your verbose vocabulary. Remember, you’re not trying to impress readers with your writing here, you’re simply trying to tell them exactly what your story is about and intrigue them enough to want to read on.
Especially for fiction book descriptions, try to keep your language simple so that no meaning gets lost in translation. A reader shouldn’t have to pick up a dictionary in order to understand your book description. This could scare them off before they’ve even added the book to their basket.
Side note: Save the metaphors and flowery description for within the pages of your book too.
Tip 4: Avoid clichés and vagueness
There are plenty of good book descriptions that work well with the addition of a cliché word, sentence, or phrase. However, in most cases, overuse of clichés can be uninspiring and risks losing a potential new reader’s attention. Vague statements should also be avoided. Your aim is to make your reader confident about what they’re signing up for.
Always read your description back more than once to check that it reflects the arc of your story. Keep in mind that just because a word or phrase sounds great doesn’t necessarily mean it’s representative of what happens between the pages of your book. Leaving room for interpretation is sometimes a nice hook, but if vagueness or clichés in the book description set the reader up for disappointment later on in the story, beware the wrath of negative reviews!
Tip 5: End on a question
Does the reader really need to know there’ll be a happy ending?
You can build tension and intrigue in a book description by leaving the reader guessing over what will happen next. Set the scene with your description, introduce the premise of your story and its main characters, but don’t reveal any secrets or give too much away about the outcome of the plot. These are the questions that will leave a reader eager to buy your book to find out how the events unfold.
Tip 6: Pay your editor to help you write your book description
I’m a freelance editor, and the question of how to write a good book description is one that comes up a lot. I offer a book description writing service to my clients, and my best advice to any self-publishing author is:
Pay your editor to help you write your book description.
Nobody knows the intricacies of your plot better than your editor, and they will be able to help you pinpoint the most important elements that need to be included in your book description. Your freelance editor can also assist you with shaping the text to reflect the tone and style of your book too, which is also important when it comes to attracting new readers.
If this is your first time writing a book description, it’s not easy to achieve all of this alone. Fortunately, your editor should have experience of writing book descriptions, and the back-and-forth brainstorm of ideas will help you to shine a light on areas of your story that might have been overlooked otherwise.
Affordable Book Editing for Self-Publishing Authors