How To Write A Smashing Book Description for Your Book:Tips from a Pro

It may come as a surprise to most readers, but writers are generally unable to write an enticing description of their books, the kind that sends you to click the "buy" button. Even fiction writers, with all their imagination, suck at this.
Except for a few writers who are also good copywriters and  know how to write the kind of ad that drives buyers to buy.

Like Mathew Kadish. He sells lots of books AND he's got valuable copywriting experience.

Here's his advice in 10 tips (and in my own words). By the way, the tips are applicable to anything you're selling, provided it's as complex as a book.

1. Don't think of it as a summary of your book, it's not a synopsis; think of it as an advertisement (summaries are boring, ads are enticing)

2. Assume your reader hasn't got a clue of what your book is about;

3. Use simple, striking language, don't get lost in big words and complex sentences;

4. Don't make it too long or too short, 3 to 5 paragraphs is about right;

5. Focus on the conflict/drama in your book, not the stuff around it, forget the details;

6. Leave people with a good hook at the end so that they want to grab your book to find out "what happens next";

7. No quotes, no gimmicks, no Bible verses, no song lyrics, no literary references: that "jazz" sounds pretentious;

8. Something cool or quirky about your book can be showcased as long as it doesn't take up too much space;

9. Don't compare your book to any other book, the comparison is more likely to damage than help: it makes you look like a second fiddler;

10. Don't address your reader in the book description: it should be self-standing and read like a story in itself...

But for much more detailed advice and in Mathew Kadish's inimitable style, click here:

I would add one more tip:

 11. If your book was written for a special reason, like a major event in your own life, some unique experience you've had or a special skill, do tell it! Don't leave people in the dark about how or why your book was born - provided it's something really out of the ordinary. No bragging please or it might turn against you!

Can you think of anything else? Please share!

(Photo credit: from

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Anonymous said…
I read and studied Matthew Kadish's in depth advice, which is quite detailed and extraordinary. However, his tips are focused on fiction and I have written a memoir. Although the tips were still accurate, the tone of my description needed to be different. The suggestion I would add is to go to the best seller list in your genre and read the descriptions in Amazon. Copy the best of them and print them out. Study them and figure out why they worked and how that applies to your book. And don't expect it to be easy! Writing a good description is one of the hardest things you'll do in the process of marketing your book. But, if you do it right, it will pay off!
The Mutinous Boomer!
Marsha, that's brilliant! Of course that has to be tip # 12! I almost feel like integrating your comment in my post...
Anne R. Allen said…
Great tips. Reading blurbs of top books in your genre (fiction or nonfiction) is a great idea too.
Absolutely right, Anne, that's the starting point. Blurbs on best sellers in your genre really help illustrate what you're after. But it helps to have some criteria to identify what is really important from what isn't. I must confess that for years I didn't "get it", and in particular, it had never occurred to me to turn the book description into a sort of mini short story where you entice the reader into your plot and don't give away the ending. Great idea for a hook/push to buy!
Anonymous said…
Nice list, Claude. I think 5 paragraphs is too long - 2-3 would be better, but depends on length.
And the first paragraph is very important, as well.
Thanks for sharing.
Anonymous said…
Even the non-fiction book description can have a good reader's hook. You can leave out the solution or the conclusion and frame it into a question of sorts.

The Celestial Proposal