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  4.3 Five Elements of a Killer Book Description

You have someone that clicks onto your book page and they are semi-interested in what you have to offer. Your book description is the place where you take someone who is interested and tip them over the edge. It's a valuable marketing asset that will take time to write.

Your book description should include a short summary of the book's contents and paint a picture of the results a reader will get from reading your book.

In this lesson, we're talking about the five aspects of a good book description.

1. Tell A Story

The best books tell engaging stories. This is a bit of a challenge with non-fiction books, but something you need to refine in your book description.

I aimed to embody my entire book in this short story:

When my husband and I started full-time RVing, we knew nothing about RV living. We made it up as we traveled to all fifty states, constantly googling things like "how to RV" and "what is boondocking?" Meanwhile, we flooded the bathroom, took ice cold showers, and got stuck in the mud.

I wanted to establish a few things about myself in this first paragraph.

  1. I'm married and don't have kids. While I don't blatantly say this, I show that we are married couple traveling and that this book will be relevant for other married couples.
  2. I'm honest about what I don't know. This was a huge value of mine while writing the book. I know a lot about RVs, but not everything. I wanted to establish right up front that I don't know it all.
  3. I'm funny? Including humor in this first paragraph was a challenge, but I worked hard to make my book funny and I wanted to show that off in the description by highlighting funny situations, like flooding the bathroom and getting stuck in the mud. Plus those two things give the reader a great visual!
  4. Establish a common problem. If you're looking to start living in an RV, you've probably already been googling phrases like "how to RV" and "what is this boondocking everyone is talking about?"

This opening paragraph is just the beginning of the story I will tell throughout the book.

Now, this paragraph actually doesn't tell you much about what the book is about. But it paints the picture of a newbie RVer struggling to figure this lifestyle out (AKA the reader I'm selling to) and sets up the problem: I want to RV, but don't know how.

2. Offer a Solution

Your book solves a problem. You validated that in the very beginning, before you even started writing. So, let's show that off in your book description. Here's my next two sentences:

Now, we've been full-timing for over three years and we've learned the ins and outs of RVing America.

In this guide, I answer all of the most common questions we receive about RV living, from how to choose the right RV to how we get mail on the road, to how to find free camping.

I'm pretty straight to the point about my solution: I answer all the most common questions we get.

An even better way to do this is to paint a picture of how the reader's life will be better after they've read the book. Like saying something along the lines of: "This book shares everything you need to know about getting adjusted to RV life so you can spend less time worrying about the logistics and more time sitting by the campfire."

Problem: There's a lot of unknown factors with RVing.

Solution: The book tells you everything you need to know so you can spend more time enjoying the lifestyle.

3. Prove Your Credibility

Imposter syndrome is a real thing. I struggled with it constantly, specifically in moments like this, writing my book description. I'm a 27 year old girl! The average RVer is a whole 30 years older than me!

But what I lack in age, I make up for in experience, right?

So I added in the line I've been full-timing for over three years in my second paragraph. You don't need to overdo your credibility since you have a whole 'About the Author' section later on the page. But it's good to subtly include your credibility in the book's description as well.

You most often see author's establish their credibility in their book description with a big opening sentence like this:

"Bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins dismantles the myth that being creative is a hindrance to success..."

Or it is a little more blended, like this:

"We all want to reach our full potential. But too often we find ourselves overwhelmed by the day-to-day. Our big goals get pushed to the back burner--and then, more often than not, they get forgotten. New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt wants readers to know that it doesn't have to be this way."

I like the way that second example blends in his credibility with how he offers a solution in his book.

Of course, don't tout any accolades that aren't true here. Focus on establishing your expertise and credibility, but don't try too hard!

4. Include Keywords

You only get to choose seven keywords for you book to rank for, but your book can also be found through additional keywords in your book description.

Let's look at the first half of my description as an example. Below I've highlighted in yellow the actual keywords I've chosen to rank for. In orange, I've highlighted other search terms I learned from Merchant Words.

Now, Amazon does say you don't need to include your seven keywords in your description, however, it's kind of impossible not to include them. I can't describe a book about living in an RV without using the phrase "RV living" at least once! Including the keywords in both places doesn't seem to have affected my sales.

When my husband and I started full-time RVing, we knew nothing about RV living. We made it up as we traveled to all fifty states, constantly googling things like "how to RV" and "what is boondocking?" Meanwhile, we flooded the bathroom, took ice cold showers, and got stuck in the mud.

Now, we've been full-timing for over three years and we've learned the ins and outs of RVing America.

In this guide, I answer all of the most common questions we receive about RV living, from how to choose the right RV to how we get mail on the road, to how to find free camping.

This guide is for anyone exploring the RV lifestyle and looking for RVing books to help make the transition easier. Also, because I want to make sure this book is valuable for you, below you can see a few specific areas of RVing I cover.

Keywords should flow naturally in the content. I've seen some book pages that clearly have just copy and pasted lists of keywords in their descriptions. Sigh. Don't do that!

Use your description to write a story that includes other keywords naturally.

5. Set Reader Expectations

Have you ever read a book and thought, "Oh, that's not what I thought it was going to be about"? It's the worst feeling, right?

Your book description should set your readers up for success by telling them exactly what they should expect. To be honest, I wasn't sure the best way to do this, so my book description looks exactly like this:

A few topics I cover in the guide:

- How to find great internet on the road

- The costs of full-time RVing

- Whether or not to tow a car behind your RV

- What we do for health insurance while traveling

- The best RVing clubs and memberships

- Our favorite apps for RVers

And for good measure, so I didn't get reviews saying "she never talked about RVing with kids or pets or xyz situation that is specific to only me!" Heath recommended I add in this section:

A few topics I DON'T cover, since I have zero experience in these areas, are:

- Traveling with kids

- How to downsize to an RV from a house

- How to travel with pets

Now everyone knows exactly what is and what isn't in the book. Curious readers can also always see the table of contents in the free preview* section of the book, but it's easy to include this info directly on the book page.

*Amazon will show up to 10% of your book content as a "free preview" on your Amazon page and will even send that free preview as a book sample direct to the reader's Kindle with a note at the end to purchase the entire book to continue reading. For me, 10% of the book includes the Table of Contents, Prologue, and first chapter.

What Do Readers See?

Most readers won't read your entire description. On my page, they only see this:

So you get the story I just talked about above and you get my author credibility. I've been RVing for other three years in America. You don't quite get to the solution yet, but hopefully at this point the reader is thinking "Yes, this is exactly where I am" and clicks read more to figure out if you can answer all their burning questions.

Keep in mind that Amazon shows readers only your first five lines of text in the preview and make sure those five lines are your best possible copy.

Homework:

  • Write your book description! Remember to include these five elements: A story, a solution, your credibility, keywords, and reader expectations.

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