A book description is one of the most important tools in a book marketers arsenal. Next to the book cover and the title of your book, your book description (sometimes called the book blurb) is your most important selling point.
A bad book description will make your book look unprofessional and will likely lose you sales.
I've seen countless authors touch up their book description, only to find that their sales jumped up considerably after making just a few changes.
Follow some of the tips in this article, and you could end up with a book description that leaves your book flying off of the metaphorical shelves.
- The role that a book description plays
- How to write nonfiction book descriptions
- How to write fiction book descriptions
- General advice for creating the perfect book description
Table of contents
- What is a Book Description?
- Why Are Book Descriptions Important?
- How to Write Nonfiction Book Descriptions
- How to Write Fiction Book Descriptions
- Step 1: Craft the First-Sentence Hook
- Step 2: A Simple Layout for the Middle
- Step 3: The Mic-drop Moment
- Step 4: Add Comparison Points
- Step 5: Close with a CTA
- Putting it All Together
- Amazon Description Requirements
- General Tips and Advice
- Should You Hire Someone to Write Your Blurb for You?
- Final Thoughts on How to Write a Dynamic Book Description
What is a Book Description?
If you're reading this article, you probably know what a book description is, or at least you think you do…
If you ask most people what a book description is, they will tell you that it is a summary of your book, usually appearing on the back of the book and on the Amazon landing page.
There's just one problem. That's not what a book description is.
Yes, a book description appears on the back of your book, and on the sales page, but it should not be a summary of your book.
Your book blurb is a sales tool. It is a piece of sales copywriting.
This is entirely different from a summary of your book. A summary will tell you what happens in the book. Sales copy will tell you why it matters.
Sales copy focuses on intriguing the reader. After reading your book blurb, the reader should be interested in learning more, preferably enough to buy the book.
That is why you should not think of your book description as a summary of your plot, but as a sales tool.
Why Are Book Descriptions Important?
I've already mentioned a few of these, but let me sum up all of the reasons why book descriptions are important.
- They get readers interested in your book
- They can lead to increased sales of your book
- They are part of your book’s first impressions, along with the book cover and title
- They provide a reason why someone should buy your book
Generally speaking, when you have a good blurb, your sales will do well, and if you have a bad blurb, sales will decline.
Obviously there are more factors at work when successfully selling a book, such as your book cover, your book title, and of course the actual book itself, but none of these components will guarantee a book success. However, if one of them is done poorly, it can be a guarantee of a book's failure.
A book description is no exception. Get it wrong, and you could be looking at zero sales.
So let's dive into how you can write amazing book blurbs.
How to Write Nonfiction Book Descriptions
A nonfiction book blurb should answer all three of these questions:
- Who is this for
- What does it solve
- What results come from it
This is the basic formula for a nonfiction book. You want to show the problem and demonstrate how your book will provide the solutions to that problem.
Additionally, you want to make sure that the reader feels like you are talking to them directly. That is why it is important to use words like “you” when describing your ideal reader's problems and solutions.
Lastly, a nonfiction blurb should be scannable. By this I mean that your paragraphs should not be overflowing with details and descriptions, but should be quick, succinct, and flow well.
With that basic knowledge in mind, here are the steps to craft your nonfiction book description.
Step 1: Craft the First Sentence Hook
In the first sentence, you need to draw them in and let them know who this is for and what benefit they will get.
Some first sentences just focus on one or two of those. Regardless, you need to make sure you hook them or else they won't click to read the rest.
Examples of Nonfiction Hooks
Here are some of my favorite openings to various nonfiction books:
“Need to find more time to write–without sacrificing the important things? Looking to consistently discover great book ideas? Wish you could generate a steady income from your words…or increase what you already make?”
“Double Your Productivity Without Feeling Overworked and Overwhelmed.”
From Habit Stacking
“Master Your Goals, Improve Your Life, or Overcome a Major Obstacle — One Small Habit at a Time”
Step 2: The Scannable Middle
As I've already mentioned, people scan nonfiction book descriptions.
Therefore, call their eyes to the most important spots or phrases by either using larger font, bolding or underlining, shorter paragraphs, as well as bullet points.
But be careful, because overuse can look unprofessional and dilute the rest.
Examples of Scannable Nonfiction Blurbs
Here are some examples of good scannable middles:
From Dopamine Detox:
Reclaim your focus in 48 hours or less.
Do you keep procrastinating? Do you feel restless and unable to focus on your work? Do you have trouble getting excited about major goals?
If so, you might need a dopamine detox.
In today’s world where distractions are everywhere, the ability to focus has become more and more difficult to achieve. We are constantly being stimulated, feeling restless, often without knowing why.
When the time comes to work, we suddenly find an excess of other things to do. Instead of working toward our goals, we go for a walk, grab a coffee, or check our emails. Everything seems like a great idea—everything except the very things we should be doing.
Do you recognize yourself in the above situation?
If so, don’t worry. You’re simply overstimulated.
Dopamine Detox will help you lower your level of stimulation and regain focus in 48 hours or less, so that you can tackle your key tasks.
More specifically, in Dopamine Detox you’ll discover:
- what dopamine is and how it works
- the main benefits of completing a dopamine detox
- 3 simple steps to implement a successful detox in the next 48 hours
- practical exercises to eliminate distractions and boost your focus
- simple tools and techniques to avoid overstimulation and help you stay focused, and much more.
Dopamine Detox is your must-read, must-follow guide to help you remove distractions so you can finally work on your goals with ease. If you like easy-to-understand strategies, practical exercises, and no-nonsense teaching, you will love this book.
From Fool Proof Dictation:
250 exercise prompts alone worth every penny!
Fool Proof Dictation can help anyone learn to dictate fiction proficiently and fluently. How?
- By taking the fear and mystery out of dictation.
- By providing exercises designed to nurture and connect parts of the brain used during dictation.
- By offering specific tips to remove the discomfort that causes most writers to abandon dictation.
Fool Proof Dictation is the only ebook of its kind, focusing primarily on the mental process of dictation. It’s a self-paced training system that streamlines the dictation process. There are warm-ups, practical exercises, and an easy to follow routine for dictating your scenes.
Fool Proof Dictation serves both absolute beginners and writers who’ve tried dictation but grew discouraged, eventually giving it up. This system offers an ease-of-use that will surprise everyone with how effective and gratifying dictation can be!
This ebook details the method I use when I dictate fiction. It also explains all the exercises I’ve used over time to train my brain for effective dictation. On top of that, it includes enough prompts to keep those exercises working for months!
Step 3: List the Benefits
Use lists; they really help.
When you write them, don't just say what they are. Instead, add a translation of how that benefits them.
For example, instead of saying “four methods of reading faster,” you add “so you can finish your books faster.”
Examples of the List of Benefits
Here are a few examples from other nonfiction books that do this job well:
What You'll Discover
- The lesser known, but most damaging form of perfectionism almost every person has
- A simple-to-apply technique to have unshakable confidence
- Why perfectionism hurts performance, and the rare exception where it helps
- Detailed and customized solutions for these five subsets of perfectionism: need for approval, rumination, unrealistic expectations, concern over mistakes, and doubts about actions
- Fun illustrations with a powerful message to begin each chapter
- …and much more!
From How to Be a Bawse:
- Let Go of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Temptation will try to steer you away from your goals. FOMO is just a test of your priorities, a test that a bawse is ready to pass.
- Be Nice to People: Treat niceness like an item on your daily to-do list. People will go out of their way to help and support you because you make them feel good.
- Schedule Inspiration: Lack of motivation isn’t permanent or a sign of weakness. Expect it and proactively schedule time to be creative.
- Be the Dumbest: Challenge yourself by surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do. It’s a vital way to learn and improve.
- How to let go of clingy, insecure behaviour that sends men looking for an escape route.
- How to attain the kind of confidence men love.
- How to be Independent without being masculine.
- What to do when a man tells you he’s not looking for a serious relationship.
- When and how to use the “No Contact” rule.
- Tips to keep you date night ready at all times.
- Why bending over backward trying to please every man you date never works.
- Ways to use your femininity to your advantage, even if you’re not the feminine type.
- How to maintain a little mystery in your life.
- Why Financial Independence is key to your happiness.
- What to Do When he pulls.
- How to handle being stuck in relationship limbo.
- What to do when a man stops calling.
- Social Media Do’s and Don’ts.
- The benefits of dating multiple men.
- How to stop playing hard to get and start being hard to get.
Step 4: Use Trigger Words
This is the icing on the cake. Trigger words are words or phrases that are proven to have a bigger impact in marketing.
So, once you've got your description written, go through a list of power words to find some that work for your description. Some examples of these include:
I have a full list of these trigger words that you can download for free here.
Step 5: Close with the CTA
Our studies found that when you and your book's description with the statement to buy now, it increased conversion rates by 3.7%.
A CTA (or call to action) is the perfect opportunity to invite someone to take the action that you want. People often don't take action unless it is asked of them, which is why a call to action can be a simple but powerful method of increasing your book sales.
Examples of CTAs for Nonfiction
Here are a few good examples of calls to action in nonfiction book blurbs:
From Happier Human:
“Pick up your copy today by clicking the BUY NOW button at the top of this page!”
“GET OFF YOUR BUTT and just get started by clicking the BUY NOW BUTTON at the top right of this page!”
From How to Train a Puppy:
“Download now to create an amazing bond with your puppy!
Scroll to the top of the page and select the buy now button.”
Putting it All Together
When you put all of this advice together, you end up with a nonfiction blurb that looks something like this:
Write a powerful hook that either discusses how, what, and/or results in reading this book.
Follow it up with a great couple of sentences to keep them reading and if you didn't use one of the three in the top sentence, then use it here.
Write scannable sentences that are power statements
Be sure to go through your sentences and your lists and make sure to bold, underline, and in some cases italicize appropriately, so as to direct their eyes to what you want them to actually read.
In this completely comprehensive guide, you'll learn:
- Something new they'll learn plus a benefit
- Something else with a trigger word plus the benefit
- A change in their life because of what they learned
Another great list is what this guide or book includes:
- Come up with a list of things you can include
- Best when written like they are bonuses
- Upgrades like case studies or certain data?
Now comes time for the strong call to action. So, make your last sentence count, and drive them for that sale like I do below.
Start living the best life possible, and pick up your copy by clicking the BUY NOW button at the top before the price changes.
How to Write Fiction Book Descriptions
When it comes to writing fiction book descriptions, the advice is a little different.
First, do not give away too many details about the story. This is not a book report, and it should not explain the story.
Second, you want to raise the stakes. Impress upon your reader the magnitude of the story. The larger the stakes, the more the reader will want to know what happens.
And unlike nonfiction, you want to minimize bold, italics, lists or gimmicks. Instead you should use short paragraphs and plain text whenever possible.
With that basic advice in mind, here is my step-by-step process to write amazing fiction book descriptions:
Step 1: Craft the First-Sentence Hook
This is the most important sentence of your entire book description because it will be the deciding factor as to whether or not a shopper will read the rest.
Because of this, I actually spend 80% of my time thinking about this one sentence. It should be catchy and draw them in.
Examples of First-Sentence Hooks in Fiction
Here are a few examples of some really great hooks in fiction books:
From The Dare:
“Have you ever had one of those really bad days at work?
You know, one where your hot boss catches you photocopying your backside in his office?
No? Just me then?”
From Tell Me I’m Wrong:
“What if you discovered your husband was a serial killer?”
From Protecting What’s Mine:
“If you can’t stand the heat, don’t fall for a firefighter…”
Step 2: A Simple Layout for the Middle
Fiction book descriptions are clean and rarely use bold font or headings. Generally, you can make the first sentence bold and perhaps parts of the final Call To Action, but that’s about it.
Also, you should keep the paragraphs short and to the point. Research shows that readers are less likely to read the book description if you use large paragraphs.
Examples of Simple Layout for Fiction
Here are some book descriptions that have a nice simple layout:
From The Emperor’s Wolves:
Multiple races carefully navigate the City of Elantra under the Dragon Emperor’s wing. His Imperial Wolves are executioners, the smallest group to serve in the Halls of Law. The populace calls them assassins.
Every wolf candidate must consent to a full examination by the Tha’alani, one of the most feared and distrusted races in Elantra for their ability to read minds. Most candidates don’t finish their job interviews.
Severn Handred, the newest potential recruit, is determined to face and pass this final test—even if by doing so he’s exposing secrets he has never shared.
When an interrogation uncovers the connections to a two-decade-old series of murders of the Tha’alani, the Wolves are commanded to hunt. Severn’s first job will be joining the chase. From the High Halls to the Tha’alani quarter, from the Oracles to the Emperor, secrets are uncovered, tensions are raised and justice just might be done…if Severn can survive.
Sacred artists follow a thousand Paths to power, using their souls to control the forces of the natural world.
Lindon is Unsouled, forbidden to learn the sacred arts of his clan.
When faced with a looming fate he cannot ignore, he must rise beyond anything he's ever known…and forge his own Path.
Step 3: The Mic-drop Moment
Your last sentence of the book description section should be powerful and encapsulate the plight of the story and the struggle your antagonist faces.
Examples of the Mic-drop Moment
Here are some mic drop moments that are absolutely perfect:
“It turns out this place isn't a bar. It's a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I'm exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there's a good reason no one else wants to work here.
“So what's a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.”
From The Girl in the Ice:
“The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband.”
From The Vault:
“With ambiguous loyalties, clashing agendas and danger beyond measure, these two men will struggle to form a team. But in a battle as unequal as this, the unexpected might be the best strategy that they have.”
Step 4: Add Comparison Points
Especially if you’re a newer author, it is best to help the shopper know what kind of book this is by relating it to books, specific genres, or authors the shopper would know.
This helps build credibility and lets the reader know that if they liked those things, then they’ll probably like your book.
Examples of Comparison Points in Fiction
Check out these examples for some great comparison points:
From The Cleaner:
“If you like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp, and Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne, you won't be able to put down the compulsively addictive John Milton series.”
From A Mother’s Secret:
Full of twists and turns, this is perfect for fans of I Invited Her In and The Mother-in-Law.
‘More chilling than Gone Girl and twistier than The Girl on the Train, this emotional, raw, dark family drama keeps you guessing until the end’ JANE GREEN, author of The Friends We Keep
From American Dirt:
“Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic”, Jeanine Cummins' American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.”
Step 5: Close with a CTA
Our studies found that when you end your book description with a statement to buy now, it increased conversion rates by 3.7%. So, remind shoppers to take action now and buy.
Examples of Fiction CTAs
Here are some examples of good calls to action for a fiction book:
“Go up and click Read Now or Buy Now to find out what happens when James reminds everyone why they should fear the Granite Ghost.”
“Don't miss out on the action of Superdreadnought 5 and Superdreadnought 6! Both included in this fantastic boxed set!”
From Enemy Territory:
“Buy Enemy Territory to journey into a strange new world today!”
Putting it All Together
Once you have all of these together, your book description should look something like this:
Write a hook that best catches them off guard and lures them into reading the rest of the book description.
Follow the hook with the story setting paragraph. This helps to establish the time, settings, and genre style. Sometimes we include the main character, but most times that's best for the next paragraph.
Enter the protagonist and their part in the story. Make your reader relate to them and their plight. Impress upon the shopper the main character's role and why they are special to the story and why the reader should follow them on the journey.
This paragraph is best for raising the stakes. Crank up the intensity on why this story matters. Think like a movie trailer in the words they use, and less like a book report. Use power statements and impress upon the reader the magnitude of the struggle.
This is the mic drop statement to conclude your description and leave them wanting more. It must be powerful and provocative.
This is where you can put a comparative statement. You can say things like if you like [enter show, movie, book, genre term] then you'll love [title of your book]. This is also where you can mention your status as an author in this genre and your awards.
Here is your call to action: Will Scarlett find love again, or will she be faced with a life of loneliness? Click the BUY NOW button at the top and enter Scarlett's world today.
Amazon Description Requirements
In addition to the general advice above, it's important to be conscious of Amazon's description guidelines so that you don't do anything they won't approve of.
Generally, Amazon does not accept any of the following:
- Anything pornographic, obscene, or offensive
- Direct reference to phone numbers, mailing addresses, email addresses, or website URLs
- Reviews, quotes, or testimonials (many people get away with this, but I advise against it to be safe)
- Requests for reviews from your readers
- Advertisements or promotional material
- Time sensitive information such as dates of a promotional tour or lecture
- Pricing information
- Referencing other websites to place orders
- Spoiler information
- An overabundance of keywords
While Amazon is not always able to police everything on this list, if your book blurb contains any of them, you are running the risk of having your book delisted.
For that reason, I generally recommend you adhere to Amazon's guidelines at all times.
General Tips and Advice
In addition to everything I've talked about so far, there are a few pieces of advice that I would add. A lot of these didn't quite fit in the structure above, so I am including them here:
- Be succinct: copywriting is a different art from writing a book. When writing copy, you want to make every single word count. Trim everything that doesn't contribute so you can say what you need to say in as few words as possible.
- Get the right POV: in most cases, you will be using third person point of view (POV) for your blurb. However many nonfiction books will use second person POV, and certain genres of fiction may even use first person. Examine other blurbs in your genre to be certain which POV is most common.
- Use keywords: while you should avoid over-stuffing your blurb with keywords, it never hurts to include a few terms or phrases that people are likely to use in their Amazon searches.
- Write as the publisher: it is important to remember that your blurb is not a summary of your book. It is a sales tool. Act as if you are a publishing company, not the author, when writing your book description.
- Find good examples: my best advice, if you are having trouble writing your blurb, is to find other books in your genre that have done well. Specifically look for independently-published books (because traditionally-published books are often lazy with their book descriptions) that are selling well. Then examine the structure of each sentence and the role that it fills. Model your book description after those examples.
That last tip is how I got started writing my own book descriptions, and it has made a huge difference in the quality of my blurbs. I learned a lot from running through those exercises.
Should You Hire Someone to Write Your Blurb for You?
This is a personal decision that you will have to make. If you find that you really don't like writing book descriptions, or you don't have the time it takes to learn how it's done, then paying someone to write it for you can be a good option.
On the flipside, book descriptions can be expensive, often running more than $200 for a good one (and you can't skimp on quality here).
For most people, I recommend the exercise above of finding best-selling independent books in your genre, and mimicking what they write.
However, if you are finding that sales are stagnating and you don't know what to do to fix them, it could be the blurb. Perhaps hiring a professional to fix that blurb for you will be the key.
Final Thoughts on How to Write a Dynamic Book Description
I hope that all of that was helpful for you. I tried to find some amazing examples of each step in the process, for both fiction and nonfiction, examples that you can model your book description after.
As with all forms of writing, your book description is something that will take practice. That is why I recommend writing several versions of your book description every time, then picking the best parts of each.
In addition, examining other best-selling blurbs will really help you hone your craft and understand what works and what doesn't.