I just received the official Kindle version cover from my cover design expert, Angie, on Fiverr.com. The paperback and hardcover versions are waiting until I get the final edits back from Beth Werner at Author Connections in about two weeks. I need the actual page count to determine the spine width.
Another component, at least for the paperback and hardcover versions, is the back-cover book description, a 200 to 250-word blurb designed to catch the prospecting reader’s attention and get them to buy your book.
A fiction book’s back cover blurb should:
Situation: Briefly describe the circumstances of the story.
Problem: Highlight the situation or hitch that makes change inevitable.
Hopeful Possibility: Provides the hope of overcoming the crisis, whether a cool character or long-shot possibility that provides the belief that the difficult problem can be overcome.
Mood: Sets the emotional state that readers will have from reading your story. For instance, a “dark, dystopian tragedy,” “humorous chick lit,” or “suspenseful, romantic and awash in…magic.”
Here is the most recent version of the back-cover blurb for Montagnard
Navy SEAL, JD Cordell, is ready to retire and take his K9 partner, Ajax, with him. JD has exciting plans for a new life that includes the courageous and beautiful Doctor Ellen Chang he met on a mission in Niger.
But when JD’s father unexpectedly dies of cancer, his grieving mother travels to Vietnam to search for her adopted Montagnard brother whom she hasn’t seen in over thirty years. Mai unwittingly steps into a blood feud between her Montagnard brother and a powerful Vietnamese drug lord, a bitter hatred that began during the Vietnam War.
When his mother disappears into the seedy underbelly of Ho Chi Minh City, JD has no choice but to come out of retirement for one last mission. And Ajax is with him all the way.
Dealing with an explosive situation such as this, even two battle-hardened veterans like JD and Ajax might need a little help from some old friends … and maybe a few new ones.
I would love to read your reaction to it … pro or con. Please take a moment to leave a comment.
Thank you, in advance, for your help with this.
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I have written book descriptions for over 85 different clients on Fiverr.com. Furthermore, while doing this, I maintained a 5 Star rating and a 73% repeat customer rate. I think that is pretty darn good! Therefore, in this post I will share some of the tricks I have learned about writing book descriptions with my readers.
Tips for writing good book descriptions
The purpose of a book description is to get the reader to buy the book. You want to “set the hook” and reel the reader in. And, I mean this in the nicest sort of way possible. Because, that is what you are really trying to do.
In addition, as a bonus, the same process you use to write your book description should also leave you with some good ad copy for Amazon ads or for use on Twitter, Instagram, or even Pinterest.
Finally, again, remember that a book description does not just describe what the story is about. It should “hook” your readers and make them want to buy your book. Consequently, this thought needs to be foremost in your mind.
Writing a good book description is a different skill set than writing the book itself. Therefore, many authors do pay someone else to write their book descriptions. However, if you would like to give it a try …
Step 1: Identify your book’s primary conflict
In this post, I am dealing primarily with fiction. Non-fiction is a little different. In contrast, for non-fiction, this “primary conflict” would be replaced with the “primary takeaway” you want your readers to get from reading the book. Hence, I will write about non-fiction book descriptions in another post.
For now, let’s focus on fiction. What is your story about? For example, in Serpents Underfoot:
The son of a Vietnam veteran and his Vietnamese wife grows up to become a Navy SEAL. On a mission, his SEAL team uncovers a terrorist plot against the United States involving nuclear weapons. Now a SEAL K9 handler, heand his dog, Ajax, raceto stop the terrorists from succeeding in their evil scheme.
Develop 15 to 20 different versions of this conflict:
This will become your “hook” and is perhaps the most important part because it is what grabs the readers attention. I have included a few examples below to illustrate what what I mean.
Conspiracy. Terrorism. One SEAL stands between freedom and nuclear annihilation.
If you like patriotic heroes, fanatical conspiracies, and action-packed adventure, then you’ll love D.C. Gilbert’s tale of SEAL action and suspense.
When a Navy SEAL K9 handler uncovers a deadly terrorist plot to annihilate the US, he’ll need every bit of his fighting skill to protect what he holds dear.
A top Navy SEAL. A deadly terrorist plot. Can one man overcome a network of fanatical terrorists to stop America’s annihilation?
When the US becomes the target of an inhuman conspiracy, one dedicated Navy SEAL will need more than loyalty to prevent mass murder.
You get the idea? Each of these is a different restating of the primary conflict in the story. Similarly, this can also provide good copy for a Facebook ad.
Conspiracy. Terrorism. One SEAL stands between freedom and nuclear annihilation. If you like patriotic heroes, fanatical conspiracies, and action-packed adventure, then you’ll love D.C. Gilbert’s tale of SEAL action and suspense. Click the link to buy the book today!
Seems like it’s not too hard. As a result, it is easy to rush through this process. Therefore, be careful not to be fooled. It can take some time and lots of trial and error to come up with 15 to 20 good versions of your story’s main conflict. As a result, you should not rush through this! Give your ideas time to simmer.
Now ask your readers!
Finally, when you have your hook ideas ready, run these 15 to 20 ideas by your target readers, and put it to a vote. It is as simple as that. The #1 choices by your target readers is your hook! Then #2 thru #5 (or maybe a few more) can be ad copy.
Now, a bit more on book descriptions!
Remember, in writing the book description, you are acting as a publisher or marketer, not as the author.
Therefore, try to make the rest of your book description about your main character’s emotional journey. Help your readers identify quickly with the main character.
Also, use transitional phrases at the beginning of sentences to maintain good momentum. Transitional phrases include words like before, when, after, however, rather, while, or despite.
Another key is to include a cliffhanger at the end of each paragraph.
Above all, remember to place a call to action at the end!
Sample book description from Serpents Underfoot.
Terrorism. One SEAL stands between freedom and nuclear annihilation.
JD Cordell believes in freedom, honor, and hard work. The
son of a Vietnam veteran and his Vietnamese wife, the Navy SEAL is proud to
serve as SEAL Team 5’s K9 handler with his dog Ajax. But when his team uncovers
a deadly terrorist plot in Afghanistan, he never expected a cover-up that could
reach as high as the White House itself.
As JD gets drawn in deeper, he unmasks a mastermind hell
bent on detonating nukes on U.S. soil. When an assassin working for the terrorist
strikes close to home, JD’s fight to save America gets personal.
Can JD protect the American way of life, or will sadistic terrorists
turn America into a nuclear wasteland?
is the first novel in a nail-biting
military thriller series. If you like patriotic heroes, fanatical conspiracies,
and action-packed adventure, then you’ll love D.C. Gilbert’s tale of SEAL action
Buy Your copy of Serpents Underfoot today!
Can you identify the parts as described?
If you can, you are off to a good start. Following the guidelines provided in this post can help you turn out good book description if you choose to. I hope this helps with any book description projects you have in your future. Of course, if you want help, I can be reached through Fiverr.com
Also. for more interesting post and book reviews, click here!
Learning to market your book as a self-published author is an interesting and sometimes painful journey. There is so much to learn and so much to do. The book cover, the story itself, the categories and keywords, SEO, social media marketing, Twitter, Instagram. BookBub, etc. … and getting reviews. The list of things to do can quickly become rather extensive.
The reviews I get tell me my story is pretty darn good.
Of course, you always get a few bad reviews. Not everyone will like your book. That is just a fact of life.
However, most of your reviews have been 4 and 5 stars. Some of the reviews have been absolutely outstanding. So why is your book not selling a little better?
Yes. It does take time. When first starting out, you are not exactly Tom Clancy, Lee Child, or Vince Flynn! At least not yet!
You do have to keep plugging away at finding what marketing ideas work for you. There is no way you can do it all. You have to have a plan and then you have to work the plan.
About a week ago, while on the phone with Jim Kukral, we went through my book’s categories and keywords and at Jim’s suggestion, made some smart changes there. I learned about KDP Rocket and if you are a self-published author, I think this tool is indispensable.
We also looked at the book cover. Jim’s comment was that the book cover looked like exactly what it is … a first cover attempt by a newbie self-published author.
I must admit it hurt just a bit. After all, I was kind of proud of the cover. I mean, I designed it myself. Jim then suggested I take a look at other book covers in the same genre; essentially military action thriller.
I did this and his point became painfully obvious. A lesson learned. Jim explained the concept of “cover to market.” Essentially, this means your cover has to stand out in the market you are competing in. Kind of a “duh” moment actually.
So … back to the cover drawing board we went. And, about a week later, voilà! I must admit, I love the knew cover. It fits the genre and stands out among the book covers of my competitors. It gives clues to the story line with out being a “spoiler.”
In addition, many people I have shown the book cover to really like it. A few have not. But when I dug a little deeper, I realized this is not a genre they read very much of. That kind of clicked as well.
I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this new book cover.
I think there are several good lessons in this post. Self-publishing is an interesting new venue for aspiring authors. It is very cost effective when you are just getting started. But being self-published does not mean that you have to remake the same mistakes as everyone else.
You most certainly can if you want to!
And, we will all make our share of mistakes. However, there are legitimate experts out there who really love helping authors succeed and it does not have to be prohibitively expensive. Talk to a few people who know. Check out the competition. Learn about concepts such as “cover to market.” Check out tools like KDP Rocket. And always remember, it is not a sprint to instant success … it is a marathon where endurance and training count.
New authors are often overwhelmed with all the things involved with finishing that first book. Are you an aspiring author? Do you have all the resources you need to make that first novel a success? Let me turn you on to a great site if you don’t already know about it. Fiverr.com is an online community of creative people. There are folks who do graphics and designer, digital marketing, writing and translation, music and audio, programming and tech, business, and fun and lifestyle. The name Fiverr probably stems from the fact that most sellers have a base gig that only costs $5.
Alice Osborn Webinar
I first heard of Fiverr during an online webinar given by Alice Osborn, a Writer/Editor. The webinar was on social media marketing for self-published authors. While Fiverr was not a topic of the webinar, Alice Osborn did mention that she used Fiverr for her own projects. I was intrigued and decided to check Fiverr out.
At the time, I was coming along on my first novel, Serpents Underfoot. I had written an author’s bio and a book description. As I perused Fiverr, I discovered a seller who wrote book descriptions designed to help you sell your books. I went a head and ordered a $5 book description to see what this seller was doing and how my book description compared to his. It was a learning experience. The seller’s book description was good. No problem there. I even gave him a tip. I discovered, however, that is was really no better than mine. So, after thinking about it for a few days, I set up a sellers account and started doing book descriptions. I have since added two other gigs.
I have written about 16 book descriptions so far. The have included books on deer hunting, slow cooker recipes, gall stone remedies, dark poetry, adult coloring books, Various self-help books and various works of fiction. I started the second gig a bit later writing martial arts fight scenes for other writers. Because of my long history of karate training, I seem to have a knack for writing pretty realistic fight scenes with sound karate technique. I have done three so far and have enjoyed doing them. I create a third gig which involves editing the work of other, but so far … no takers.
What qualifications do I have? Well, for one … I think I could read before I could walk. My parents instilled in me a real love for reading. As a result, I have read my whole life. Starting with Dr. Seuss and moving on to history, military history, historical fiction, fantasy, sword and sorcery, I also like to write and have written most of my life as well. As a youngster, I even enjoyed playing on a typewriter! As a student, I enjoyed doing papers in school and always got good grades on writing assignments. When I attended college, I took many literature courses including Old English literature, Russian Literature and a technical writing course as well. I received excellent grades on any paper I did including my Master’s thesis.
Things I have Written
I have written several student training manuals for the dojo I owned and ran for about twelve years. Any dojo marketing materials were also written by me. I’ve had several letters to the editor published in the Clinton Courier as well as the Daily Beacon, the student publication for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I have technical documentation for processes in several of the jobs I have worked. For the last 12 years or so, I have also been a blogger. I started with a conservative blog, which was eventually rolled into this current website/blog. I guess I may have mellowed a bit over the years. While I am still pretty darn conservative, I try to see other view points and to also blog about non-political things such as writing, books reviews, and my German Shepherd, Sophie.
What does the future hold?
My Novel, Serpents Underfoot, is in its final editing stage and will be released this fall. I plan to release it as a paperback, a hard copy and on kindle as well. Once that is underway, I currently have plans for three more books.
While I do not want to give too much away, my next project is going to be a collection of letters from WW II. No, I did not write the letters. But the letters are real, and they a beautiful to read. They are letters written between a GI stationed in Japan during General MacArthur reconstruction period and his wife at home with their young son. These letters offer a look at a period of time many of us have forgotten about. It was a tough time, a time of sacrifice and hardship. But, is was also a time of love, caring, and looking out for other people.
Then I have plans to do a book on what it was like growing up as a stutterer. Last, I have an in progress Isshin-ryu Karate history and training manual I need to complete. Then, who know … I may circle back and do another adventure in the life of the main character in my novel.
What does these last few sections have to do with Fiverr?
Not a whole heck of a lot, except for the confidence writing as a seller on Fiverr has given me. I am finding out that people actually like what I write. So far, I have completed 19 Fiverr gigs and am working on my 20th. I have 18 reviews, 16 of which were 5 Star, one was a 4 1/2 Star, and one a 4 star. That is the motivation I mentioned earlier in this post. Fiverr provides tools and motivation. So, for all you aspiring authors out there … Fiverr just may be a great place to start.