Monday 24 July 2017

How to write a book description (and avoid your head exploding)

By Phillip Cook

It's really simple, isn't it? The potential buyer looks. Nice cover, wonder what the book is about? Nibble. They turn their attention to the description. Hooked? Well, maybe not.

I've just published my third book and at this stage of my writing and publishing journey two important book marketing strategies have become crystal clear to me: cover design and book description.

Cover design is simple. A good cover will attract people. Get a graphic artist to do it, unless you're one, Photoshop can be time consuming and energy sapping. Once attracted by the cover, the reader will then read . . . the description.

Now book description.

This really gave me a headache and still does. How do I reduce my 80,000 plus book down to a few words? You'll hear reference made to the elevator pitch. You know, famous publisher walks into lift at a writer's conference and realizes you're a writer and asks, 'What's your book about?' Your response, 'Umm . . . umm'.

I've tried for each of my books to write a description. At times I thought my head was going to explode (extreme headache) as I forced it to do something it seemed incapable of doing. Help! So I surfed the net, but I wasn't sure what you called people who wrote book descriptions.

CreateSpace offered a service called Marketing Copy Essentials. So this had me exploring 'marketing copy services'. But all this time the service I was looking for was right under my nose.

In my previous endeavours to write my own book descriptions I purchased a book called How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Byran Cohen. It helped and guided but I just couldn't get it to the point where I felt it worked for me, so I put it in the too hard basket until next time. I decided it was a gift or talent I just didn't have and the brain was resisting any tampering, so I published books with so-so descriptions which ended up with so-so sales.

I pondered. Byran did state in his book "But it's the synopsis that sells your book." I just forgot or maybe I just didn't absorb that statement (but a new dawning had now come upon me). He also backed it up with some research findings, and made it clear why writing descriptions are so important.

He also clarified what it was called: copywriting.

To keep the story short, I ended up using the book description service provided by Bryan. And it only confirmed I just did not have the talent to do what he does. Here's proof.

Enter 'ho-hum'. I provided Bryan with the required background on the books. After writing and sending me the descriptions, I noticed a few inaccuracies due to one not having an intimate knowledge (which is understandable) of the story, so I modified the description slightly to make it more accurate and sent it back to Bryan for sign off. 

His response was that I just took some high-stakes lines and rendered them ho-hum. And all I did was make some minor changes—this was frightening stuff! He had a different mind to me. One more attuned to writing description. This pleased me.

So after we rectified the ho-hums (I just needed to point out the inaccuracies), I ended up with sizzling descriptions that I believe will help sell my books, and any future book description will be done by a copywriter. But don't be deterred. Some of you may have that talent, but if your head feels like it's going to explode . . .

Here’s the copy:

One woman’s encounter with a demonic priestess could end in human sacrifice… her own…

Ruby Fisher has a world full of possibilities but no sense of direction. The twenty-something hopes a pagan festival will give her life new meaning. But she never expected it to end with her buried alive…

When Ruby miraculously survives her ordeal, a demon-influenced Wiccan priestess and her partner refuse to stop until the sacrificial ritual reaches its bitter conclusion. With the help of two detectives and a demon seer, Ruby learns she can no longer deny the existence of an invisible world shrouded in darkness.

And to uphold the balance between worlds, she may just need the help of a supernatural deity…

Under a Blue Moon is the third book in an electrifying series of Christian supernatural mysteries. If you like explorations of things unseen, breakneck pacing, and crime dramas with a dash of spirituality, then you’ll love Phillip Cook’s entrancing series.

About Phillip Cook

Phillip Cook lives and writes in sunny Queensland, Australia, but sadly his writings do not take place in a writer's den overlooking the ocean, but he dreams of such things. His mind is also on things unseen: angels, demons, thoughts.

He has always had an interest in the supernatural and occult themes starting from his early teens. He was searching, looking for answers, driven by some innate understanding. There is more than meets the eye. He found God in his early thirties. His writings reflect his journey and to help and challenge others.

His first book, Dead Man's Journey, gets the reader thinking about what happens at death—who your escorts may be. His second, Demons Whispers, has the reader thinking about the things that can influence the mind, affect our thinking—the whispers in our head. And his latest, Under a Blue Moon, explores the world of the occult, where light exposes the darkness.

Click here to find his books on Amazon.


  1. Bryan is very talented at this stuff.

  2. I've bought Bryan's book, but haven't read it yet (true for oh-so-many books). I've listened to a couple of his webinars and podcasts, and Adam is right - he knows his stuff.

    Phillip, thanks for sharing on ACW today.

  3. Thanks for sharing Philip. Copy writing isn't easy for sure. Good to get some pointers.


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