How to Write an Engaging Book Description: A Marketing Guide for Authors

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Selling your book comes down to good marketing, and after working so hard on writing and publishing it, you don’t want lazy marketing to spoil everything. If no one knows about your book, all the effort you’ve put into it will have been in vain, so don’t underestimate the importance of marketing. 

Once your title and cover have grabbed a potential reader’s attention, the blurb is what will seal the deal by convincing them to buy and read your book, which is why writing an engaging description is so important for commercial success. A bland or lackluster blurb can kill a prospective reader’s excitement, so you don’t want to get this wrong. 

If writing a gripping book description feels overwhelming, check out our book marketing packages for authors

Now, let’s get to the basics. 

What is the purpose of a book description? 

A book description is your chance to grab a reader’s interest so they’ll want to read the full story. It’s a crucial component of a successful marketing strategy and one that many authors struggle with because it’s hard to condense your plot into a few short paragraphs that skillfully pique the reader’s interest and entice them to buy the book. 

A book description is usually printed on the back cover of a book or the online equivalent, which is a book’s listing page on a platform like Amazon, but you can also use it for interviews, blog posts, your personal author website, and more. You can even create multiple versions and use different ones on different platforms, catering to an assortment of audiences and adhering to the various length requirements. Having a ready-to-go blurb is absolutely necessary before self-publishing and will carry a lot of weight during your marketing campaign.

Hook the reader

The job of the book description is to get potential readers immediately invested in your story, so it needs to start out strong. The opening sentence should read like a blurb or the logline for a movie—basically, a one-sentence summary of what your story is about. It should introduce your protagonist and the conflict they’re facing, the main plot, and a hint of the backstory. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here—it depends on your book, writing style, and target audience—so write something that fits your book and instantly draws people in. Make the final sentence a cliffhanger, so the reader has no choice but to read the full story because they so desperately want to find out what happens. A good way to do that is by finishing with an intriguing, compelling question. An alternative solution is to make implications that infuse the description with an air of suspense.

If your book has won any awards or you’ve gotten a good review from a well-known personality, you can include them here to prove to the reader that your book is worth buying. Third-party reviews are among the most effective marketing tools for authors since they serve as verification of quality from an unaffiliated entity. If the book is part of a series, you should also make a quick note of it in your description. To get a better idea of how to integrate your accolades in the description, study some of your favorite bestsellers. 

Make it short and easy to read

People have short attention spans, and the back of printed books has a limited amount of space, which is why a book description should be kept brief and punchy. It should focus on the main character and the main plot, not delve into subplots or supporting characters unless they’re instrumental to understanding the basic story. Just as you have to condense your plot into a short summary in a query letter, you want to communicate the basic idea in as few words as possible, setting the stage for the reader without giving them unnecessary details.

Most book descriptions are around 250 words, which isn’t much, though they can be anywhere from 150 to 500 words. Keep in mind that if you make it too long, you risk losing the reader’s interest, so even though it’s tough to compress your entire book into such a tiny word count, keeping it short will only work in your favor. If people decide to read your book, they’ll get all that other information anyway—your only goal here is to goad them into buying your work.

For those same reasons, the description should also be easy to read. Use short paragraphs and don’t be afraid of bold text and bullet points, which will draw the reader’s attention to the most important ideas. The goal is to emphasize quickly the main points of your book, so make them stand out. 

Include keywords

Another way to make your book leap out in online marketplaces such as Amazon is to embed keywords into your description. Make sure they feel natural and fit the voice used in the blurb—they’re not hashtags. If they sound forced, you’ll come across as a talentless writer, and people won’t be likely to buy your book.  

To figure out what keywords to include, consider the kinds of words and short phrases that users would search for when looking for a story like yours. Even better, look up other eBooks in your genre and see what keywords they use. This will make it easier to find for people who don’t yet know your name and are looking for a specific subject matter, theme, or genre.

Think of your description as a short ad for your book—one that has very little time to make an impression. It should offer an accurate summary of what the story is about and what the reader can expect to feel and learn without giving too much away, so take your time crafting it, and don’t forget to have it proofread by a professional. Also, test it out on others, noting their impressions and tweaking as necessary before you print it on the back of your book. If you would rather focus on your next story than on marketing strategies, let our team of experts create a book marketing package for you

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