How to write a great book description

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Written by: Amy Collette

Amy loves to work with people who make a positive impact. Amy is a Book Coach, Founder of Unleash Your Inner Author, and the Author of The Gratitude Connection. Amy helps changemakers on their journey to become published authors.

How do you write a great book description that connects with your readers and makes them take action to buy it and read it? And do that in 200 words or less?

That’s the big question authors grapple with. But wait—there’s more! This description also has to grab the imagination and interest of the influencers you want to approach to write testimonials, reviews, and the foreword. It has got to sum up the book enough for people to say, “Yes!” to you and your message.

You’re building a relationship with your readers, starting with the cover, then the description, and finally the author biography.

What makes us buy books?

We want books to change our lives.

Your book description lets your readers know they belong here. That this book is especially for them. And how they will experience an amazing transformation.

How to write your book description

So how do you summarize your book in two or three paragraphs?

You don’t. Instead, you use that precious space to connect with your readers.

Put yourself in their shoes. What do you think they want in their lives? Why would they spend hours of their lives reading your book or any book? Why do you do that?

Start by picking up books you like and review the descriptions. What made you pick up that book in the first place? The cover? Is the description as interesting or attractive as the cover?

Next, look at books that are similar to yours (in the same genre, category, or that target the same readers). See what speaks to you. What makes you smile or laugh? What makes you feel a connection with the author?

 

Brainstorm ideas for your book description

I love a good brainstorming session! I carry around a notebook and make notes whenever something brilliant (or not so brilliant) pops into my head. Your brainstorming can be an ongoing process.

I also like to get together with an author so we can just “brain dump” all the ideas we come up with. No idea is a bad one. In fact, jot down on a whiteboard or paper all the goofy, silly ideas that come up. You have to get those out of your brain so they’re not stopping the flow of the brilliant ideas waiting in line behind them. Get them all out of your head. Make a list as long as you can, until no more ideas come out of your brain. Wring it dry. Then ask yourself, “What else?” until your brain hurts (in a good way).

Brainstorm about:

    • Concepts for the book cover – colors, words, phrases, ideas
    • Feeling/Emotions that the book evokes in different sections
    • Outcomes you want for readers
    • Impact you want to make
    • Your readers’ pain—what are they struggling with? What do they need?
    • How do you solve the problems/pain?
    • How is your story or message different?
    • What’s unique in your message?
    • What do you want them to say about you? About the book?

Then walk away for awhile.

Come back and start writing.

 

The Four Elements of a Great Book Description

Here are the four elements that your book description needs to give your readers:

  1. Pain or Fear: Your readers need to know that you understand their pain or problems. If you have a solution or system that will help…
  2. Curiosity: Spark your readers’ curiosity. Tell enough of the story that your potential reader is intrigued and wants to know more.
  3. Connection: As the author, let your readers know that you “get” them and their issues. Establish your credibility and build trust.
  4. Feeling or Outcome: What transformation will your readers have because of reading your book? (And, presumably, doing the work you prescribe.)

 

Examples of effective book description blurbs:

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

“Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”

Why it works: Her description addresses the key elements:

Pain or Fear: Fear of not being able to live a better life or be creative

Curiosity: How will she show us our “strange jewels?”

Connection: Establishes the author’s credibility (previous books), empathy, and generosity

Feeling or Outcome: Cracks open a world of wonder and joy

 

Amy Simpkins, Spiral: Harness Natural Cycles for Explosive Growth While Catalyzing Inspiration (Coming out September, 2018)

“Discover a new creative framework to help you transform your biggest ideas from imagination to reality, fusing the practicality of engineering design methodology with the magic of alchemy.
Spiral is an epic weaving of threads from engineering, design thinking, spirituality, business, and physics that will empower you as both a business builder and as a human. Rather than a step-by-step process for success that can feel like fighting the tide, this book acts as a guide to building your business on your own terms, in harmony with your own natural rhythms.

Based on her personal experience as a spacecraft systems architect, a serial entrepreneur, and a business strategy coach, Amy Simpkins offers simple-yet-powerful tools to approach the creative process as a whole person. Whether you are creating disruptively innovative solutions, a world-changing business, or a life that lights you up, Spiral helps you integrate all of the random, varied parts of yourself so that you are free to shine your brightest.”

Why it works:

Pain/Fear: Bringing my biggest ideas to life in a way that feels natural

Curiosity: It’s epic? How does it combine all those elements, those things within me…

Connection: Spacecraft architect, entrepreneur (credibility) and she combines engineering, creativity, and magic

Feeling/Outcome: Empower, Guide, integrate varied parts of myself so you can shine

 

Carol Jacobson, Dancing on the Edge

“Reading these poems is a lot like eating jalapenos; they all look the same, but some are a lot stronger than others. Your eyes water, your nose runs and your throat burns… But it’s oddly satisfying and leaves you wanting more. After you recover, you promise yourself you’re going to be more careful… Then, the desire for a jalapeno sneaks up on you. You find yourself once again dipping into the unknown with trepidation and fascination. This book is for all who need a little jalapeno for their soul.”

Why it works: This description defies all the guidelines I’ve just explained, but is so intriguing and humorous that it makes you want to dive in, right?

 

Now it’s your turn!

Please share your book description (and/or your questions about the process) in the comments.

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