4 Ways Not To Screw Yourself

Let's talk about Book Description.

Whether you're creating a "blurb" to query an agent, to post for a self-published book, to post in some kind of promotion, or just to tell others, either in emails or discussion lists, here are some things you do NOT want to do lest you screw thyself.

(Previously published in Writing Hacks by Joan Reeves. Subscribe today if you want to be the first to read articles like this.)

1. Never start a book description with: "This book is about.... This novel is about.... This mystery is about...." Or any of the variations, i.e., "This book is close to my heart.... This book took me 5 years to write...." Etc.

Excise the generalizations. Stop warming up your engines. You're not a race car; you're a writer. You should know what your book is about, and you should be able to convey that succinctly and entertainingly in a paragraph or two.

Your product description should read as compellingly as one on the flap of a NY published hardcover. If yours doesn't, then start learning how to write good cover copy.

2. Never include statements in a book description that are unwarranted or incapable of being proven. Examples: "This story will sweep you off your feet.... This book will make you laugh.... This romance will touch your heart.... This mystery will keep you puzzled to the end."

Saying something doesn't make it true. You don't know what will touch someone, make them laugh, or puzzle them. Those are conclusions the reader draws while reading your work. By using broad generalizations that have no basis in fact, you run the risk of having your book ignored. All those examples are examples of sloppy, amateurish writing. Readers will not buy a book that seems amateurish. Maybe your book is polished prose, but you'll never get the chance to prove that if no one buys your book. Be a pro. If you don't know what that means, learn.

3. Don't be ignorant of Marketing Hooks. Good Product Descriptions have strong marketing hooks. It's not enough to write a good book, you must also know how to market that book to agents and editors, or to the reading public if you self-publish.

Marketing hooks closely resemble the book's concept, as in high concept, but they can be more prosaic. Some include, but, are definitely not limited, to phrases like these: contemporary romance novel, marriage of convenience, unrequited love, secret baby, cozy mystery, police procedural, vampire romance, time travel, or even phrases, if they make sense, like Die Hard on a bus, Jane Austen meets The Walking Dead, etc.

Study marketing hooks until you can write a description that presents the protagonist, his goal, and his conflicts all wrapped up in a strong marketing hook that makes the reader click buy.

4. Don't ignore the importance of branding. Yeah, I know you hear a lot about it, and that it may be confusing.

Start with a baby step. Create a Tagline, a phrase with which readers will associate your name. Short is best. Memorable is required. I'm working with my motto that I slap on everything: "It's never too late to live happily ever after!" However, I'm still trying to create a shorter tagline. When I have something I like, I'll let you know.

The perfect tagline incorporates your genre and the something special you bring to it.

Takeaway Truth

Make your book descriptions short, dynamic, and compelling with the goal of making the reader unable to resist buying your book.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.


  1. Great tips! I have a tendency to panic when writing promotional material, so I needed this.