Tips For Writers

How to Write Effective Book Descriptions: A Guide for Self-Published Authors



The book cover is often the first thing a reader notices. But the book description is the author’s hook. The goal for every self-published author is to peak the reader’s interest so they are enticed to purchase your book. This might sound easy, but time and time again writers will include too much information, not include enough detail, or just fail at making an appealing book blurb.

Fiction author, Richard Ridley, has been writing books for more than 20 years, and is no stranger to marketing his work. Over the years, Richard has mastered the art of writing effective book descriptions, which have lead to stronger book sales. Check out his successful tips below and learn how to effectively write your next book description!

1. Don’t include subplots. When it comes to the book description, the only thing that matters is the main plot or main theme. That’s all you need to focus on when you sit down to write your book description. Including anything else will send you off into an endless loop of “then this happened” moments that will dilute your book description. What is the primary action that drives your book?

2. Keep it under 150 words. This, no doubt, will elicit some moans and groans by a lot of authors. Summarizing a book that consists of tens of thousands of words to just 150 is impossible, right? No. In fact, I am of the belief that you should be able to summarize your book in a single short sentence. Remember, you don’t have to concern yourself with the character development and sub-plots, so those tens of thousands of words it takes to adequately draw a reader into a book aren’t necessary when it comes to your book description. In the simplest terms, what is your book about and what will make readers interested?

3. Write in third person, present tense. Even though your book is most likely told in past tense, your book description is not. You are describing this book as if you’re sitting face to face with the reader, and they’ve asked you what the book is about. You wouldn’t speak to them in the past tense. In addition, the book description is told from third person point-of-view even if you’ve written your book from first person point-of-view.

4. Use emotional power words. You are trying to evoke emotions with your book description, the same emotions that your book evokes. To convey these feelings, you need emotional powers words like tormented, charismatic, passion, obsession, terrifying, etc. There are too many to mention here, but a quick search for “Power Words” on the internet will produces hundreds of words to choose from. Just be careful not to overdo it. Use power words sparingly and strategically. If I had to put a number it, I’d say in a 125 word description, you’d use 6-10 emotional power words.

5. You are not the author. You are not writing your book description as the author. You are writing it as the publisher. Making an impact on the reader is your principal concern. What will move the reader to want to know more about your book? What will motivate the reader to add your book to his or her cart? Write the book description with your head, not your heart. Remember, the book description is marketing material – not literature.

Another thing Richard suggests, and we at BookRix have suggested this as well, is to find your favorite author and books and read through all of their book descriptions. Chances are, they’re getting it right. If you write in a genre outside of what you typically read, then search for those specifically. Read as many as you can, take notes, and identify the formats used.

Richard provided an example of a good book description that he feels was written correctly. The following excerpt is from The Outlander, a Gil Adamson novel:

In 1903 Mary Boulton flees alone across the West, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At nineteen, she has just become a widow-and her husband’s killer. As bloodhounds track her frantic race toward the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two ruthless brothers-in-law are in pursuit, determined to avenge their younger brother’s death. Responding to little more than the primitive instinct for survival at any cost, she retreats ever deeper into the wilderness-and into the wilds of her own mind.

According to Richard:

From the description, I know the book is a psychological thriller featuring a young woman on the run from some very nasty people. I get a hint that her husband may have deserved his fate, but I’m also led to believe that Mary Boulton may be mentally unstable. The description is roughly 90 words. It’s told in third-person, present tense, and I count seven emotional power words (”heart-pounding,” “frantic,” “tormented,” “mad,” “ruthless,” “primitive,” and “wilds”). I only know the main plot: she killed her husband, and now she’s a fugitive running for her life. I picked up the book because of its cover, but I opened the book because of this description. I now own it.

Keep in mind that your book description extends far beyond a side panel in online eBook stores. This description will be used for social media efforts, and for promotional material for your self-publishing efforts.  It’s something for your fans to latch onto. Keep it punchy, clean and concise.

Happy writing, everyone! Best of luck with your book descriptions!

How To Have Successful eBook Sales as a Self-Published Author



Cracking the Amazon Algorithms

Joanna Penn, author, internet entrepreneur and international speaker, recently broke down David Gaughran’s book, Let’s Get Visible: How to Get Noticed and Sell More Books. Her article explains that Gaughran’s book will make it easier for self-published authors to understand the basics of achieving successful eBook sales, or at least optimizing them. David Gaughran is an author/blogger known for his in-depth, critical and intelligent analysis of the publishing world.

Basically Joanna says that there are two main ways for people to find your eBooks:

1. Through your eBook

Most people buy the majority of their books from authors that they know nothing about. These sales have nothing to do with the author’s “platform”. Your “platform” is more about putting in consistent, focused effort over the course of a career, and making incremental improvements in extending your network. It’s about making waves that attract other people to you—not about begging others to pay attention. (To learn more about “platforms” read THIS article.)

2. Through you (the author)

This is all about your platform and how you reach people in the world. Joanna believes that #2 is important, having spent a lot of time and effort building her own platform and it changed her life. (Sounding familiar authors?)  She is a full-time author-entrepreneur because of her website. (Ahem – Authors: GET YOUR OWN BLOG/WEBSITE!) However, she says that she definitely sells more books to people who haven’t got a clue who she is and nor do they care.

Another important point is:

Readers shopping on Amazon buy more books!

Here is what Joanna says she learned from the book:

(1) Amazon algorithms are different for different charts and different territories

I’m not one of those people who likes to track data, but I have known for a long time how important the Amazon algorithms are for selling books. What I didn’t know was the difference between the Sales Rank, the Recommendation Engine, Bestseller Lists, Popularity lists, Top-Rated in Categories, Hot New Releases, Movers & Shakers and all the other ways you can target the lists and prime the sales pump.

(2) Staggering your launch is better for long-term sales than a big initial spike

A few years back there was a boom in ‘Amazon Bestseller’ promos where people would try to spike sales on one day, hit the charts and that would make everything a success. However, Amazon’s whole aim is to give people fantastic content and those kinds of programs were boosting books that didn’t necessarily deserve visibility. David talks about how the algorithm now pushes those books back down as fast as they rose, so when you launch, you want to have a slow start, with sales spaced out over time. He has a lot of specific ideas around the launch, definitely worth taking note of.

There’s also a great section on free pulsing and price pulsing which you should read if you’re still confused about ebook pricing! Plus a detailed method of evaluating paid advertising and doing group promotions.

Joanna also mentions that Gaughran’s book emphasizes that most of the strategies are only effective if you have more than 2 or 3 sale books (so get publishing!).  Joanna says that it’s really important to “remember that one of the best ways to sell more books is to write more books!”

To read the full article, visit Joanna’s website, The Creative Penn.

How to add your self-published eBook to Goodreads AND enable Kobo book reviews






















For those of you who don’t already know, Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Their mission is to help people find and share books they love. Basically, they are making reading more social and it’s working! If you’re an author who sells your books through Kobo, you’ll know just how important Goodreads is. At the moment, only people with Goodreads accounts can leave a book review at Kobo. You have to sign-in to your Goodreads account, search for the book, add it to one of your bookshelves (read, to read, currently reading), give it a star rating and then, if you want, leave a personal review about the book. This review will then automatically show up on the book’s Kobo page.

For indie authors, reviews can make or break the success of a book. Most readers find new books through word of mouth or recommendations from a friend. The great thing about Goodreads is that your friends can share their reviews and recommendations with you, or you can visit their profile to see what books they’re reading or read (and enjoyed) in the past. BookRix is similar, we add books to our favorites and add our reviews to the book info pages – then our friends can see what we think about other books on the site. Leaving a book review on BookRix is easy because all the free eBooks are already available on the site, and the self-published eBooks have accessible shop links. However, more often than not, indie books won’t be found in the Goodreads search. If a reader can’t find your book to leave a review, then other Kobo readers won’t know if anyone likes or dislikes your book. Without a review to read, they might not buy your book.

The simple thing to do is add your book to the Goodreads library. To add your book manually, here is what you do. You can visit the Goodreads Home Page, then click on the Find and add books to your shelves button which will take you to the search page. Then simply click on the Manually Add a Book button on the top right. Next, you just need to input your book info.

Here’s what you need:

1. Title and author name (*If your book is part of a series, you should add “Part One” or “Part Two” to the end of the title to alert the reader.)
2. ISBN (If you don’t know this, you can find it on the Imprint page of your BookRix book, you can also usually find it on Amazon – if not, contact our support and we’ll help you.)
3. Publisher (BookRix GmbH & Co. KG)
4. Date published (Again, if you’re not sure of the exact date, you can find it on Amazon, or on the imprint page of your BookRix book.)
5. Number of pages (If your book is a short story, just leave this part blank.)
6. Format (In this case, you would always select eBook.)
7. Edition (You only enter information here if you have published more than one edition.)
8. Description or Blurb (Just copy and paste it!)
9. Edition Language
10. Cover image (This is so important – it’s on the top right hand side and allows you to upload a jpeg from your computer. Don’t skip this step or your book won’t have a cover and we all know how important that is for potential readers.)

There is one more thing that you should know about Goodreads – it was just bought by Amazon. That’s one more major reason why your eBook should be in their library. Just because you’re an indie author, doesn’t mean you should be left behind!

*Don’t forget to sign up for the Goodreads Author Program – then you’ll be able to create a personalized profile page and promote your books.

Why eBook authors can’t convert PDFs to ePubs

No PDFs Allowed!

Creating beautiful eBooks is EASY!

It seems like the easiest way to create an eBook exactly how you want it to look would be to create a stunning PDF, right? WRONG! At this point, in the world of eBook technology, it is impossible to convert a PDF directly into an ePub. A PDF is a print format, so PDF documents are basically less-structured versions of their word-processor originals. While PDF content is made to look really good, it actually includes very little structure. And by that I mean that it doesn’t contain enough clues about the function of text elements (like bold, italics, spacing, line breaks, indentation, paragraph alignment, etc.,) or how they should be displayed in a different context (I.E. YOUR EBOOK). This means that converting a PDF document to ePub first requires conversion to a more structured text format, like Microsoft Word… So now you’re back to the basics.

As an author, you have to remember that an eBook just isn’t a print book. Look at the books on your eReading devices and you’ll start to get a better understanding. Each eReader is different. On my Kobo, I can even change the font type, which would totally disregard whatever the author initially chose. Honestly, I love this option. Years ago (before my love affair with eReaders) I tried reading a paperback copy of Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie three times and could never seem to get into it. Then, while visiting a friend, I picked up her copy and started reading it without any trouble. Upon closer inspection of my own copy, I realized that the font was just too difficult to wrap my eyes around. It was old fashioned and looked slightly smudged on the somewhat yellowed page. My friend’s copy was crisp and clean and so easy to read. As much as I miss the smell of an old book, being able to read The Brothers Karamazov on my eReader, in a lovely modern font type, is a dream come true. The most important thing about reading is actually being able to read. It’s not the smell of the book, the feel of the pages, or even adding another title to your ever-growing bookshelf; it’s about the story, it’s about imagination, and it’s about losing yourself over and over again to the power of a good book.

I’m off track. The point of all of this is that the formatting from a PDF can’t be extracted because it just doesn’t work as an ePub. If you want nice clean formatting in your eBook, all you need is Microsoft Word (for you Mac users out there, you can save your Pages doc as a Word doc). Using the BookRix Self-Publishing service couldn’t be easier with Word, just write your story and make sure each chapter title is formatted as a “Heading” (you can find the Heading option in the same tool bar as bold, italics and alignment – just look to the right, you can’t miss it) and then, when you create an eBook our editor will automatically set all those Headings as chapters. This way, when you download an eBook you’ve got a fully interactive table of contents. Easy-peasy, right? RIGHT!

Self-publishing is about freedom and ease, so take advantage of it and spend more time writing!

6 Tips for Overcoming Writers Block



Dont let writers block get the best of you

Don't let writers block get the best of you

Awhile back you decided to write a book. So you created an outline, focused on character development and toyed with the plot.  You made some writing headway, but somewhere between Chapter 4 and Chapter 7 you lost your way. Don’t beat yourself up. Being plagued by writers block is relatively common and it can be difficult to get back on your creative track. Here are some tips to help get your head back in the writing game.

Messy workspace, messy mind

Having a buildup of clutter surrounding your writing area can be more detrimental than you might think. Take a look at the area you write in and make an effort to clean up shop. Some simple organization can have a huge impact on your thought process

Manage Your Time Effectively

We’ve all got things to do. Pay bills, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. That’s life. But the same way you carve out time to eat and make your appointments, you need to make time for your writing. Commit to a time each day and stick to it. Treat it with the same seriousness as a job.

Go Offline

Laptops can be a blessing and a curse. They’re portable, sleek, and far more effective than typewriters. But let’s face it, when you’ve got writers block, the internet is the biggest distraction of all time. Whether you’re checking your email, ordering new ink cartridges (they’re on sale!) or reading CNN headlines, you can veer off track without even realizing it. Prevent the issue before it starts and turn your wifi off during writing hours.

Writing Exercises and Brainstorming

Writers block can make you feel like you’re trapped in a box. So step outside of it completely and work on a writing exercise. Not sure what to write about? Try some of these.

Work Out of Order

When taking a timed test in school, chances are you skipped the questions you had difficulty with in order to answer the ones you knew. So try applying this tactic with your writing. Skip ahead to a section you’re excited to write about and then circle back. It helps clear your head and also keeps you focused on your story.

Mental Clarity

Sometimes the best way to achieve mental clarity is to step away from your desk and get some fresh air. We’re not saying you should spend the day at the beach, but a 30 minute walk or bike ride can certainly clear the mind.

Proof Me, Bro



If you’ve ever weight trained, or know someone who has, you know the first rule: Always have a spotter. A spotter’s job is to support the person lifting weights. If the lifter is unable to physically handle the weight, the spotter is there to help. Having this type of assistance is a safety precaution that can eliminate injuries. This same principal, although slightly different, applies to writers. They should always have a proof reader. Sure, a writer isn’t going to tear a ligament by not having second set of eyes scan their work. But they could easily damage their reputation with undetected written mistakes if they opt out of having their book proofed. So why throw caution to the wind on something your as precious as your notoriety? Simple: You don’t.

It’s not uncommon to get apprehensive at the thought of having your work critiqued. But before unnecessary anxiety sets in, remember that almost every reputable author has an editor. Someone to add an apostrophe, mark a run on sentence, or simply tell you the dialogue needs work. Whatever the case may be, it’s worth it. When you write a story, the content is coming solely from you, so of course all the pieces come together and make sense in your mind. But to a third party, it might need some clarification. Ultimately as the writer and creator, you have the final say in the changes you incorporate. A proofreader’s goal isn’t to change your vision, but rather to ensure it’s received in its best form. It’s just one more step towards getting your book ready for publishing. So reach out to someone you trust (friend, family member, work associate, BookRix member, etc), and ask them to lend you their expertise.

….and while someone is proofing your work, why not shift your focus to BookRix Author Patrick Sean Lee and delve into The Redemption of Marvin Fuster. Clever and well written, a very enjoyable read.

Archives

Grab the BookRix Button

BookRix Between the Lines

HELPFUL BOOKS

BookRix Between the Lines

BookRix Blog Buddies

Reading Addiction Blog Tours Me, My Shelf and I Parajunkee Design When A Southern Woman Rambles