After completing your manuscript for self-publication, it is time to position the book to be discovered online. Even with a stunning cover design, it would be a mistake to rely on the book’s sheer visual appeal to be found by potential customers. This is where a well-crafted book description does the heavy lifting.

By now, we all know how search engines work. When shopping for a book, some keywords typed into the search engine will result in a list of relevant selections plucked out of the millions of book titles available on the online retailer’s website.

The algorithm acts as a matchmaker, introducing the shopper to various book suggestions that align with their search query. If your book has landed in someone’s search results, its book description should be compelling enough to lure them into taking a deeper look.

Knowing how to write a book description is essential to a book’s success. Book descriptions are a free marketing tool that, when done well, can help clinch the sale.

As the author, you have about 250 words to appeal to the person’s curiosity and then convince them they should have your book. A boring, lackluster book description will have the complete opposite effect. For this important reason, learning how to write a good book description is critical.

5 Elements Every Book Description Should Have

Writing a book description that sells is harder than it might seem. You may wonder how hard could it possibly be to write a brief pitch for your book. But this step of the marketing process is akin to sending a query letter to a traditional publisher who you are hoping will represent you—it is tricky and oh so important to get it just right. Instead of targeting an agent or a publisher, you are directly appealing to the customer—enticing them to buy your book.

When writing a book description, there are five basic elements it should have:

Intrigue at the Open

Your very first sentence or two must elicit some type of emotional response. The desired emotional response will vary depending on the genre. Your first line for a cookbook will want to tantalize the person’s taste buds, while the opener for a thriller will want to evoke a sense of suspense or fear. Whichever genre your book falls into, that first line needs to trigger an emotional response.

A Crisp Elevator Pitch

The bulk of the book description will be contained in 2-3 paragraphs. This is more challenging than it may seem. In fact, be prepared to work hard on getting these paragraphs just right. You will be providing the theme, some plot details (for fiction), and subject matter (non-fiction), all the while keeping the wording intriguing and tight.

An Adept Use of Keywords

The use of keywords is a fundamental search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that matches customers to book titles. While you should avoid keyword stuffing, it is wise to insert at least a few relevant keywords into the book description. Think like a customer and identify some words you would use to search for your book and smoothly integrate them into the content.

A Problem Defined

Within the body of the book description, you identify a challenge or mystery or problem. By stating a problem, you are again appealing to the consumer’s emotions. If it is a book about personal finance, you suggest the customer needs guidance to straighten out their money issues. If it is a romance novel, you present the devastating problem the couple faces.

The Solution

You’ll wrap up the book description with a call to action, convincing the customer that they will benefit from purchasing and reading your book. For fiction, it will prompt them to see what happens between the characters you have briefly introduced. For an art book, it promises a lovely accent for their home. For a memoir, it beckons them to journey along with you.

While Amazon grants 4,000 characters to the book description space, which is about 500 words, try to keep the book description under 250 words. Write and rewrite your book description until it encompasses all five of these elements and flows like honey.

The Book Description Template

The nuts and bolts of a book description will follow a basic template. The template is fairly universal, allowing for any genre to fit within its parameters. The book description template looks like this:

Headline or Hook

Your headline might eventually announce your ‘Top Seller’ status or feature a review written by a well-known source, but for a brand new book, the book description will begin with the “hook.” A hook is exactly what the word denotes—a compelling sentence that stokes the reader’s emotions and draws them further in.


This portion of the book description will contain key elements of the book. This is not necessarily a book summary but plays off the hook and offers enough information to pique interest in the book. A work of fiction will expound a bit on the plot or characters and the problem they face, where a self-help book will address the unsolved problem they have. The blurb basically sets up the sale.

Close the Deal

To close the deal, your book description will wrap up with the promise to fulfill a need or solve a problem. A self-help book directed toward grieving spouses offers gentle guidance, a murder mystery promises an exciting adventure ahead, or a non-fiction leadership book offers increased productivity.

Learn More About How to Make Your Self-Published Book a Success

Now that you know how to write an effective book description, you can begin refining yours to be as persuasive as possible. Why not utilize the expert guidance of the editing team at v to help you nail it? While you’re at it, consider their full array of editing services to ensure that your self-published book is perfectly positioned for success. Call us today!

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