Self-publishing

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.

Free Writing Contest: Enter Your eBook to Win a Marketing Package



Be The Best Seller You Can Be!








The BookRix Young Adult Contest: Be The Best (Seller) You Can Be

Writing is your talent, your skill, and your greatness! Unfortunately, being an Indie Author comes with a downside: The grueling task of self-marketing. It’s a big, book-filled world out there, and without marketing, readers won’t know about you or your work. It’s kinda hard to be a Best Seller when nobody knows about your book, so let’s get you noticed!

Entering this contest could ease some of the pressures of marketing because BookRix will help you get your eBook out there to the world. Yes, we’re cool like that!

PRIZES:
The top 2 winners in this “Be The Best (Seller)” contest will each receive a MARKETING PACKAGE for special book promotions, when their winning eBook is distributed via the BookRix Self-Publishing Service. This Marketing Package includes being featured on the BookRix website /blog/Twitter & Facebook fan pages/newsletter, external book reviews, possible blog tours and exposure on external sites with a possible feature in an eBook shop. A custom cover and editing service could also be thrown into the mix because, like we said, we are cool like that!

GUIDELINES:
* You can only submit ONE entry so make sure that it’s your best work
*Anyone can enter however your story should be written for YOUNG ADULTS (YA) which is typically 13-17.
* Your entry CANNOT BE A BOOK FOR SALE
*Your entry MUST HAVE A COVER
* Your entry should be a novelette, 7,000 – 17,000 words and be a complete story (beginning, middle and end)
OR
*Your entry should be PART ONE OF A SERIES with a minimum of 4,000 words
OR
*If you are an over achiever (which we love!), feel free to enter a novel length book.

CONTEST DATES:
Submit your story in the thread, between April 3, 2013 through June 27, 2013 11a.m. EST, 4 p.m. London Time/GMT in the BookRix Free Writing Contests Entry Thread.

VOTING:
* One winner will be chosen by the BookRix Team and another winner will be chosen by the BookRix writing community, in a separate voting thread, from June 28 through July 8, 2013 11a.m. EST.
* Only quality books will be chosen so make sure that your entry is 100% proofread for spelling, grammar, syntax, etc.

HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST:
Submit a link to your eBook in the contest entry thread, on or after April 3, 2013, in the group Writing Contests on BookRix.com.

BookRix is always looking for great books to have published and we are there to help you get the exposure you need to market your eBook to become a more successful author. This contest is designed to inspire great writing to give you the push that you need to get your best out there and for us to help you get it further.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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!

Self-Published Authors Blake Crouch & J.A. Konrath talk with Author R. Lynn & Amber of BookRix

self-published-authors-ja-konrath-r-lynn-blake-crouch-with-amber-sims-hinterplattnerAs many of you may have seen on our BookRix YouTube Channel, while at the 2011 BookExpo America, I had the opportunity (and lucky chance encounter!) to meet in person and grab an exclusive interview with two of the most successful self-published authors of our time: J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch. Currently, they are grossing between $30,000 and $50,000 a month in eBook sales!

Watch this video (turn up your speakers) if you are serious about self-publishing your novel or book. They offer helpful tips and important messages to not only Author R. Lynn, who’s just started her journey down the same indie path with BookRix as a sponsorship partner (and was the perfect person to ask these guys some serious questions), but for all of the BookRix community and writers in the world wanting to expand their book’s potential horizons.

In this video Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath discuss what it’s been like since they left their legacy publishers and how that’s changed their options.

They also talk about the importance of marketing and finding key influencers to write book reviews for their books (pre-launch), building a fan base and platform to sell books online and so much more.

Be prepared, the REAL, authentic and humorous personalities that Author R. Lynn and I got to see emerge during the interview are included, but with all seriousness about why they left their legacy publishers and the power of social media sites for authors including Facebook, Twitter and of course your very-own BookRix.

Follow the authors on Twitter:

@JAKonrath
@BlakeCrouch1
@AuthorRLynn

Publishers Jumping on Digital Bandwagon as E-Book Sales Soar

Digital Publishing RevolutionThis seems to be the year that the digital revolution is posed to take over the publishing world, here and overseas.

In a recent press release, the Association of American Publishers reported that in January 2011, U.S. net sales of e-books surged by 115.8% over the same month last year, more than doubling from $32.4 to $69.9 million. Total book sales were slightly lower, with both hardcover and paperback book sales declining significantly.

Across the pond, digital, print-on-demand and self-publishing have boosted the production of new book titles in the UK, up 14% from 2009 to 2010 (133,000 to 151,969), according to Bookseller.com. The article states, “The figure is derived from the number of ISBNs Nielsen issues over the year. However, the 2009 figure has since been increased to 157,039 because of the late addition of digital titles in that year, a factor that may also further increase the 2010 figure.” Last year also saw 3,151 new UK publishers registering for an ISBN, a 10-year high, compared to 3,007 in 2009—an increase attributed primarily to self-publishing authors.

Meanwhile, everyone wants a piece of the e-book pie. For instance, Barnes & Noble is expanding its PubIt! digital publishing platform for the NOOK format, Amazon’s new AmazonEncore distribution program helps self-published authors get more exposure across various channels, and even the perennial page layout software application QuarkXPress has been overhauled to let publishers catch the next wave of digital content production.

Also riding the crest of the digital self-publishing juggernaut is our own BookRix.com online author/reader community that has grown from zero to more than 15,500 digital uploads since launching just 2.5 years ago. As a BookRix member, aren’t you proud to be on the cutting edge of the future of book publishing? We are!

What are your thoughts and concerns as the world of publishing keeps changing?

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