Book Description Tip for January

Have you ever been excited about a book because of its cover or its title? Did you click the book link to go to its webpage and read more about the book?

Once at the webpage, have you ever begun to read the description and found your excitement fading? Even worse, have you openly scoffed at the description and then moved on to another book page?

I have. Like most readers, I figure if the description is poorly written, then the book probably is too.

Writers, Heed This Advice

Never start a book description with any of the following:
  • This book is about....
  • This novel is about....
  • This mystery is about....
  • This book is close to my heart.
  • This book took me 5 years to write.
1. Cut the generalizations! Writers do all of the above because they're trying to warm up their engines, searching for words to say what the book is really about.

No warming up the 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 one sentence ideally. Get it down to that one or two sentences, and you'll be able to put that across compellingly in a slightly longer form like the one to three paragraphs of a solid book description.

2. Write everything down then tightly edit. Yes, put all those wandering, meanderings on paper then cut away the dross, removing anything that doesn't convey an exciting story as well as all the meaningless "warming up your engine" words and phrases.

3. The book description should read like a microcosm of the book. Initially hook the reader, lead into the characters, motivation, and conflicts, and end with a hook that makes the reader click to buy the book.

4. If you need to improve your blurbing skills, go to any bookstore and read the inside cover flap of dozens of New York traditionally published books in your genre. Or, go to any ebook seller and read the book description of the most popular books in your genre.

Takeaway Truth

A book description should read as compellingly as the book itself. If yours doesn't, then work on that skill until you have mastered it.

(This article previously appeared in WritingHacks, my free subscription newsletter for Writers. Subscribe today if you want to read articles like this as soon as they are published.)

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