Writing Book Descriptions – The Dance Between Keyword Optimization and Brilliant Copywriting

Writing compelling book descriptions for books, ebooks and audiobooks means balancing your promotional copywriting between the head and the heart. It takes both wit and a winsome turn of phrase to make your readers fall in love with your book before they even think about buying your work.

On the brainy side, your description needs to attract the attention of the search engines. No one is going to read your brilliant book description unless they find it first. That means you need to write using the distinct topics and terms that your readers want to find. Whether it’s Google, Amazon, Goodreads, iTunes or even YouTube, your book is competing with the entire planet for face time with your reader. People find your books online via keywords that are optimized to your product.

On the emotional side, your book blurb needs to draw readers into your world. From the very first sentence, your description needs to shake-up their emotional state, touch their sensibilities and hold their attention close.

The dance between the two elements is more like a subtle samba than a tantalizing tango. But when done deftly, putting the two together is like watching the scintillating movements of ballroom dancers.

Cheesy Synopsis or Delectable Description?

The difference between a synopsis and a book description is as marked as the difference between a bland slab of American cheese and a succulent slice of gouda.

Both types of cheese are good sources of protein and calcium, sure, and they both have their place. Both can add a bit of richness to a certain kind of meal, and both can be found in the dairy aisle of your favorite store. But one is compelling – a delicious complement to pears served with a crisp sauvignon blanc; the other is not.

A book synopsis is a utilitarian body of text that tells readers about your book, touching on the highlights from beginning to end, and hoping the reader is interested in what you’re offering. In fact, offering a thorough synopsis means someone doesn’t need to read your book in order to know what it’s about.

Unfortunately this kind of book description is all too common for the first-time and self-published writers I work with in my publishing business. The result is about as enticing as that little piece of plastic film leftover after you’ve unwrapped your piece of Kraft. It’s wasted and tasteless – not pretty.

A description, on the other hand, doesn’t give away the meat of the book but teases the reader into owning it, savoring it, and treasuring their next encounter with it.

In the case of fiction, a delectable description gives insights into the book’s characters and their backgrounds as well as their hopes, fantasies and motives. This kind of description doesn’t reveal what happens next, but somehow you just know there will be a twist. It arouses curiosity and piques interest at the same time.

With non-fiction, the description serves as an intimate glance behind the expert’s curtain, offering only a taste of what’s to come. It builds curiosity, conveys authority, and it indirectly confers a select kind of status on the reader.

A well written description for a non-fiction book can be every bit as juicy as one for a work of fiction. So how can you captivate your readers with your book blurb? Your effective, enticing non-fiction book description will:

  • Focus on the benefits
  • Ask compelling questions
  • Include the use of statistics
  • Cite experts or celebrities in your field
  • Illustrate your reader’s problems while teasing your most salient points

Keywords: The Keys to Your Kingdom

When selecting keywords to use in your description, direct your thinking towards keywords and phrases that are relevant to your content. Choose terms your audience is not just reaching for – but are hungry for.

Include these terms in your description so your book gains incremental exposure in the search engines. This will put your work in a distinct class, a cut above.

Did you know that 95% of online searches start and finish with the first 10 search engine results? Sometimes that figure is even higher. By using the key terms that your reader is actively seeking, you can leverage leading retailers’ massive SEO expertise to move your work to the top of the list.

Typical online searches yield millions of search results, and if you’re not using keywords in your description, your book could be buried in the results pages like that can of Cheez Whiz in the back of your fridge. Your book deserves better, so give it every chance to shine.

Using the right key terms, you can ride draft on the savvy of the world’s heavyweight retailers like Amazon, iTunes and Google. Carefully pick keyword phrases and use them in your book’s name, description and press releases. You can also use them in articles, blog posts and comments, linking to your product listings through online retailers.

Book sellers like Amazon allow you to track how many searches they are receiving for specific terms. To get the ideal result, include a relevant keyword for your book in the title or sub-title, as well as your delicious book description – you know, the one with the delightfully tart bouquet and a smooth finish.

When your enticing book rises to the top of the sales charts, maybe you’ll celebrate with an elegant cheese tray and a bottle of fine wine. So put on your dancing shoes and go make some magic!

Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.