Thursday, April 13, 2017

#AtoZchallenge Key Steps to Writing Your Online Book Description

The #AtoZChallenge 2017 Theme at Operation Awesome is the Publishing Journey.

Today's guest post is by Michele Keller.
Key Steps to Writing Your Online Book Description

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ Key Steps to Writing Your Online Book Description ~ Guest post by Michele Keller

Writing a good hook is your book's most important sales tool. But simply reusing your query won't guarantee the best results online. The internet is complex media, and your online book description needs to take advantage of all aspects of the online world.

Start with a great hook

Since you are already a writer, this should be the easy part. A quick review of the most important elements:

A great hook:
Uses specific details, not generic phrases
Does not use unexplained world specific names. If the average person wouldn't know what it is, don't use it.
Does not tell how your inciting incident happened. It explains why it's important to the character
Has a logical flow. The connection between the elements must be obvious
Matches the tone of the MS

Now you must optimize it for online use.

The internet is a visual medium. Effective online descriptions take full advantage of that medium to present information in an interesting way. That means using HTML in your description. Simple tags for bold, italic, H1, H2 are simple enough to for even the novice. (If you need help, type WYSIWYG HTML generator in a search engine. There are plenty of free ones to choose from. Then, you can cut and paste this into your description.)

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ Key Steps to Writing Your Online Book Description ~ Guest post by Michele Keller

This example overwhelms the reader. Giant blocks of uninterrupted text on a screen is unappealing. Notice that you don’t even need to read it to be turned off. The content could be amazing, but readers will click back before they have even read the first sentence.

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ Key Steps to Writing Your Online Book Description ~ Guest post by Michele Keller

The first text the readers sees must entice them to learn more. The hook must be front and center, and occur before the critical “read more” break.

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ Key Steps to Writing Your Online Book Description ~ Guest post by Michele Keller

The full description is presented in a visually appealing way. Notice the breaks in the text and the variations in the fonts. This gives the eyes a place to rest.

Now let's create yours

This is my awesome tagline (use HTML heading 1)

This first paragraph will use 54 words or less to guarantee any reader will click on the crucially important 'read more' link that follows. If you want the secret to generating sales for your self-published novel you can't afford not to click on that link. (Got it?)

Now that the reader has clicked read more, we don't want her to regret it. The second paragraph should give more details and expand on what came before. You do not have to use all the allotted space for your hook. Giant blocks of text turn readers off.
Break things up with subheadings
Congratulations you've hooked your reader. They clicked on 'read more' and made it to the end. It's time to reel them in with a great close.

If you have a great review, use the extra space to quote it, and be sure to use bold or italics to distinguish it from the rest of your hook.

The final step is optimizing your keywords

There is no way around this step. If you want to sell your book on Amazon or any other online bookstore. You will be buried by your competition without keywords. Unless you are going to debut on the top 50, no one is going to find you by randomly clicking. It will not happen. You must use keywords.

There are plenty of conspiracy theories about how Amazon's algorithm performs keyword searches. There are just as many and people claiming to have cracked the code and will gladly sell you the secret. If you don't have a marketing department the simplest method is the autofill cheat. Go to Amazon and slowly type in a keyword description of your novel in the search window, e.g. urban fantasy male protagonist. Amazon will suggest in the drop down window some similar keyword searches. Pick your keywords from that list. Also, you are not married to your first choices. Revisit your keywords. If your sales are lagging, scroll through what is selling, find something your novel has in common, and add it to your keywords.

Selling e-books in this competitive market requires more than just good writing. It requires an expertise in marketing that many authors simply don't have. By optimizing your online description, you can give your book the professional look that will help you edge out the competition.


Michele is a former music teacher turned writer. She specializes in family-friendly travel, health and wellness, and the adventure known as parenting. Her alter ego, The Manuscript Shredder, critiques first chapters and uses them to inspire articles designed to help beginning writers improve their craft.

You can find Michele at
Twitter: @ml_keller

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ Key Steps to Writing Your Online Book Description ~ Guest post by Michele Keller


  1. I thought you wrote a great hook has "a logical flaw" and I couldn't decide what that meant. Stressed about it a good five minutes before I realized it was a logical flOw. Ohhhhh ... now I'm happy!

    1. Lol, that sounds like something I would do!

  2. Thanks for the tip about using the drop-down search on Amazon for suggested keywords. Also liked your comment about explaining why the inciting incident is important to the protagonist. Just think, we are almost to the half way point of #AtoZChallenge!

    1. I can't take credit for Amazon tip. I've read it in several places so I'm not sure who to was the original creator. Hope it helps you with your description.

  3. Great suggestions. A nice ToDo list as I get ready to publish.

  4. I will definitely bookmark this post for later. I plan to self-publish my first book the latter part of May... and I know this is one area I can't afford to overlook!

  5. This is useful and I will have to come back later and read it properly as its such a wonderful writerly resource.
    Laughter #Lexicon of Leaving

  6. Glad everyone liked the article. Thanks for reading!

  7. Did you know that you can shorten your urls with AdFly and get cash for every click on your short urls.


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