Note: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.
Product description, blurb, back cover copy. It doesn’t matter what you call the text that goes on the back of your book, inside the dust jacket, or on your website – that text is one of the most important things you’ll need to successfully sell your book.
Why is that? Think about what happens when you come across a book you’ve never heard of before. Sure the cover might draw you in, but what’s going to sell you on actually buying that book? The description.
In order to help you write the best possible product description, I want you to ask yourself this question: If you were at a bookstore and picked up your book, what would need to be on the back cover that would entice you to open up the book, flip through the pages, and buy it?
Here’s my list of elements for a successful blurb/product description:
- Mention any pertinent awards or prestigious publications you’ve achieved as a writer.
- Got any great reviews or accolades for the book that you can pull from? Stick the best possible quote or tagline on there.
- The feel of the book should be conveyed through both the description AND cover.
- For fiction: give a few sentences that describe the main plot points. Introduce your main character(s), your general storyline and the challenge/consequences that the character(s) is facing.
- For non-fiction: note what the book is about and what it intends to do (answer a question, teach someone something, etc.).
- The summary should make the genre evident. If the book is a sci-fi book, make sure the summary reads that way!
- Engaging, vivid language.
- Tone that is consistent with the book and the marketing language you’ve used so far (like in your launch).
- Include a call-out to your ideal reader. Is this the perfect book for fantasy lovers? Great for people who enjoy a quick, lighthearted read?
- Keep it relatively short and very digestible. Potential readers will often skim over this section. Make it skim-friendly with bold terms, italic quotes, headings, paragraph breaks, etc.
If you’re looking for some examples of great product descriptions for self-published books (particularly fiction), I’d recommend checking out books from David Wright, Sean Platt, and Johnny B. Truant. For example, check out their product descriptions for Yesterday’s Gone and The Beam. When in doubt, browse through Amazon or Nook and see what you think works and what doesn’t for different books.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to do a couple different drafts/rewrites of your product description. Give it the time and attention it deserves. If you throw something together last minute, it will show – and your sales will likely reflect it.
You can always hire someone to write your copy, but unless one of your beta-readers or editors is a great copy writer, I’d suggest you write it yourself. After all, you know your book best!
Any thoughts, suggestions, or questions about writing product descriptions? Let me know in the comments below!