There is some debate on the distinctions between a blurb, book description, summary and synopsis. The general understanding is that a blurb is a short teaser for the book which goes on the back cover. The blurb usually consists of a couple of brief and intriguing paragraphs. A book description is similar but considered a bit more detailed than a blurb, and usually includes some testimonials and reviews if available. Summary and synopsis are both far longer versions, and include the beginning, middle and end of the book, including the final showdown.
Book descriptions however do not give away the ending, but only provide enough details about the content to lure the readers in. If you aren’t sure whether to use the blurb or book description style for your book, do check through other books in your genre, or through some of your favorite books. Use the style and format that suits your book.
In any case, a great book description is a must for every writer- not just for the back cover, but also for listing on the various e-book platforms such as Amazon KDP, Kobo, Barnes and Nobles, among others. They also provide a great brief pitch for agents and publishers, and can be used for marketing purposes on your website too.
Here are five tips to make your book descriptions persuasive and appealing:
1. Use reviews and testimonials
Readers usually look for guidance and advice from others on which books are worth reading, and this manner of social proof is especially important for new authors. If you can get some good reviews from well-known writers or reviewers before you launch your book, that’s great! Otherwise, quotes and testimonials from other readers will be useful too. Plan to use only about 2-4 of the best testimonials, and place them together in a prominent location on the back cover. Some authors also use a great review from a well-known source on the front cover, and place the rest on the back cover.
2. Make it clear what kind of book it is
Readers skim quickly through the book description, so be sure to indicate exactly what the book is about. For example, if it is a sweeping tale of love and tragedy set in World War II, let the readers know that. Using good descriptions like that with catchy keywords also helps the online bookstores’ search engine to find your book!
3. Use comparisons and references
You can also compare your book with other similar books and authors- well known ones, of course. It is okay to do some name-dropping here and reference other works, as long as the claims are not over the top. This way, you immediately claim the readers who are fans of the referenced book or writer. For example, in the story mentioned above, you could say, “a sweeping tale of love and tragedy- a modern day Gone with the Wind”.
4. Make the first line the best
The first line of the book description is the most important, as it immediately tells the reader whether the book is worth reading. It should capture their attention, their interest and hook them right in. You should probably spend as much time on the first line of your book description as you did for the first line of your novel!
5. Keep perfecting it
The great advantage with self-published e-books is that you can make any changes whenever required. It may not be possible to produce your best version of the book description the first time around, so consider it a work in progress and look for ways to improve it. You can monitor the reviews and sales numbers with each adjustment you make.
Also, keep tweaking your book description to make it the best possible for the moment and to keep it current and fresh. For example, if your book is a suspense thriller about a hijacked plane, published last year, and you just saw the news media buzzing about the Malaysian Airlines missing plane- don’t hesitate to aptly slip a mention in your book description!
Image credit: Chris on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]