As I cruised around Twitter, picking up links to Tweet for independent authors, I’ve noticed these problems with indie Book Descriptions:
- Telling what the book is.
A quick shorthand of what the book is will work—“A dark urban fantasy,” “An international thriller”—but your categories and keywords are the more appropriate place to relay this information.
How to fix: Refocus your Description to describe what the book is about. That is, the plot.
- Unfocused, vague, or incoherent plot or premise.
I’ve read Book Descriptions after which I’m still not sure what the plot or premise is.
How to fix: Think of your Book Description like a movie pitch or logline—you need to give a clear picture of what happens in your book as precisely and concisely as possible. Exercise: Pitch your book to a friend. What’s important to mention and what not should leap right out.
- Too much plot.
I’ve seen Book Descriptions that provide a synopsis of the entire plot! You want the reader to buy and read your book. Don’t do this in your Book Description.
How to fix: Determine what is most important in the beginning. That’s all you need. If you wish to suggest the overarching plot, couch it as a summary or a story question.
From Celestial Girl (A Lily Modjeska Mystery): Pursued by Pentland’s enemies, Lily embarks on a journey that will take her across the country to San Francisco and across the ocean to Imperial China as she unravels a web of murder and corruption reaching from the opium dens of Chinatown to the mansions of Nob Hill.
From Summer of Love: With the help of Ruby A. Maverick, a wise, feisty half-black, half-white hip merchant, Susan and Chi discover a love that spans five centuries. But can they save the world from demons threatening to destroy all space and time?
- Telling the reader how wonderful the book is.
No one ever buys a book because the author says it is wonderful. As tempted as you may be to do this, don’t.
A reader is either interested in the subject or not, in you as an author or not. And that’s the way it is.
- Including professional or reader reviews.
Amazon has a spot on your product page to include as many professional reviews as you wish. Use it. Don’t put reviews in your Book Description.
Similarly, a potential reader can find reader reviews in the section provided for them. Don’t put them in your Book Description.
Exception: Smashwords doesn’t have a place for professional reviews. Barnes and Noble does, but you need the reviewer’s name. Publisher’s Weekly, other review sites, and some blogs don’t give that information. So I would say that in your Smashwords and Barnes and Noble Book Descriptions, you may include reviews. Be aware that those Descriptions have word limitations. You can only include so much.
- Too much about the place and time or vague, incoherent details.
The place and time of your book are Essential Elements, but you need to keep that information precise and concise. Think again of your Book Description as a movie pitch. Hit the intriguing points.
From The Gilded Age: The year is 1895 and immigrants the world over are flocking to California on the transcontinental railroad and on transoceanic steamships. The Zoetrope demonstrates the persistence of vision, patent medicines addict children to morphine, and women are rallying for the vote. In San Francisco, saloons are the booming business, followed by brothels, and the Barbary Coast is a dangerous sink of iniquity. Atop Telegraph Hill bloody jousting tournaments are held and in Chinatown the tongs deal in opium, murder-for-hire, and slave girls.
- Book excerpts.
Don’t include these. Thanks to the Sampling function on all retailers’ sites, a potential reader can easily read the beginning of your book and decide if he or she likes your writing.
You want to draw the reader deeper into your product, not bash them over the head with it in a Book Description.
- Awkward, imprecise language.
I read a Book Description that hit all the right marks. Then, toward the end, a clunky sentence stuck out like a sore thumb. A reader like me would be leery of the author’s writing right from the start. Be careful.
How to fix: Print out and proof your book description on paper. Read it aloud.
Like number 8, this is a deal-breaker. I read a Book Description for an erotic book in which the author not only inserted a passage from the book, but misspelled “crotch” as “crutch.” Ouch!
How to fix: Print out and proof your book description on paper. Trust me, you can’t see everything on the screen.
So there you have it, my friends. You worked long and hard to write a book. Be sure to present all that work in the best possible light through a compelling Book Description.
From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia..
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.
Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!
And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.
Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!