By BlueInk Review

Every book needs a description of its contents – that snappy teaser copy you traditionally see on the back cover. When done properly, it lures readers in, as well as signals what audience the book is targeting. And it’s invaluable on marketing materials, author websites and other promotional materials.

But at BlueInk Review, we’ve seen too many book descriptions by indie authors that fall flat, turning readers off before they even open the book.

Where do they go wrong?

Here are 4 of the most common mistakes we see:

  1. They don’t have it edited

We can’t count the number of times we read an excellently crafted book, with every comma and period in place – only to turn to the book description on the back cover and see all kinds of copyediting errors and a convoluted description that leaves us scratching our heads. We can only conclude that the author gave the manuscript to a competent editor but didn’t feel it was necessary for the editor to look over the book description, as well. Moral of story? Give all the copy related to your book to an editor before publishing.

  1. They list every plot twist

Your book description is meant to be an enticement, in the same way that an appetizer is meant to whet a diner’s appetite for the meal to come. But too often we see what amounts to the entire meal laid out in the book description: summaries that mention each and every plot twist in the book. If readers know everything that’s coming, why would they want to read the book? Summarize the plot or narrative, but don’t give away all your surprises.

  1. They don’t mention the genre

Is the book historical fiction? Young adult? A memoir? If readers have to guess after reading your book description, you haven’t done your job. The purpose of a book description is to attract readers who love your kind of book. Without mentioning the genre, you are potentially losing your most enthusiastic readers. State the genre up front; don’t be shy. Use the words at the beginning of the description, as in: “In this historical novel….”

  1. They don’t craft it as carefully as they’ve crafted the book itself

Writing a snappy book description is an art unto itself. It must describe the salient points of the book, including the story’s most enticing elements while not giving too much away — all in one or two brief and artful paragraphs. Think of it as the most important sales pitch of your life.  Every word must count.  Every idea must serve to rope readers in. If you don’t feel comfortable with that kind of writing, hire someone who does to help you.

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