How to write a killer book description to attract readers

Lessons in Self-publishingDuring my Sunday morning reading, I came upon a podcast by Libbie Hawker posted by Johnny Walker at Author Alliance. Hawker spoke about writing book descriptions.

I loved the way Hawker broke down the process into five easy questions. I recall a similar discussion on promoting books last year by someone else. It’s so simple anyone can do it.

At the moment, I’m writing, revising, tweaking, second-guessing and editing the book description for my next novel, Scattered Stones. It’s an epic fantasy story, so I have to have an epic description.

After listening to Hawker’s podcast, I completed the exercise she suggested to see what I might add to the blurb-in-progress. I won’t go into the full exercise here; you’ll have to watch her podcast for that, but the first step is to answer these five questions.

Five Questions

  1. Who is the main character?
  2. What does your main character want?
  3. What or who stands in the main character’s way of getting what he want?
  4. What is your main character willing to do or sacrifice to get what he wants?
  5. What is at stake if the character fails?

Here is the book description I created from answering these five questions.

Scattered Stones 12aBronwyn Darrow is desperate to rescue his daughter Isla from Blackvale Castle. For five long years, he’s travelled Ath-o’Lea searching for her, but the mysterious castle is impossible to find. He’s already surrendered his sergeant’s position at Aruam Castle, but he’s willing to sacrifice everything to bring Isla home, even his honour. If he fails, his little girl will face a lifetime of slavery.

Hawker provides tips on how to add meat to the description to make it more exciting and more interesting. She also shares what you should avoid in a book description, such as too many proper nouns.

Combining Exercise and Description Draft

Scattered Stones 15I combined the description I already had with that from the exercise and came up with the following.

Scattered Stones is an enchanting epic fantasy novel, a mesmerizing, breathtaking treat for the imagination.

Bronwyn Darrow is desperate to rescue his daughter Isla from Blackvale Castle. For five long years, he’s travelled Ath-o’Lea searching for her, but the formidable castle remains elusive. He’s surrendered his coveted sergeant’s position at Aruam Castle, but he’s willing to sacrifice everything to bring Isla home, even his honour. If he fails, his innocent little girl will face a lifetime of slavery.

When Bronwyn breaks into Tigh Na Mare Castle, he encounters two siblings who vow to help him on his quest to save his daughter. They prove to be more loyal to Bronwyn and Aruam Castle than he first realised. Together, they embark on a journey that takes them far from home and down winding mountain trails where their actions set in motion the unravelling of an ancient legend that threatens the lives of all dwarfs.

Watch, Listen and Learn

To watch the podcast and learn how to write the description for your next book, check out Libbie Hawker’s Writing Book Descriptions.

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14 thoughts on “How to write a killer book description to attract readers

    • Diana, thanks. I feel as if I should go through all the blurbs I’ve written for my books and redo them to this style. Maybe after I get this huge novel off my desk and out into the world.

      This is what I love about self-publishing. I’m always learning, always improving, and I can pass that down to books I’ve published previously. In trad. publishing, you’re kinda stuck with what was first put out on the market.

  1. Diane, you wrote a captivating blurb. I really appreciate your posts about self-publishing. I couldn’t sleep last night so I read quite a few of your older posts that were so helpful especially the ones that pertained to us Canadians. Happy Easter, Diane. ❤️

    • Thank you, Tracy. I appreciate your opinion on the blurb.

      Blurbs get me. On one hand, they are supposed to intrigue, but on the other, they are supposed to share a bit of the story. While at markets selling books, I never said what was in the blurb because it didn’t tell readers what the story was about. Yet, the blurbs fit into what I’ve seen on other books. I’m trying to find a balance: be intriguing, but tell a little about what will happen in the book.

      When I began self-publishing, almost all the information I found concerned the United States. That’s one reason I started posting my experiences here, to help fellow Canadians. I’m working on a book to organise it all in one spot, but that’s a few projects away.

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