Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Book Description Headline?


Have you ever stopped to wonder why you open some emails and not others? Have you ever had your attention drawn to a tabloid while you wait to pay for your groceries?

Welcome to the world of headlines. Good headlines have the power to literally stop you dead in your tracks and pay attention.  When they are good, they even cause you to consider picking up a tabloid paper you may not have ever thought of buying.

The same is true with headlines in book descriptions.

Book descriptions have space for headlines. Book descriptions are, in fact, like sales pages for your book. Now I’m not suggesting you need to get all salesy with your book descriptions.

But you should spend a significant amount of time working out the best possible book description. Oh, and incidentally, I’m talking book description here as it appears on your book sales page on a online store like Amazon. But this would equally apply to what you write on the back cover of your book.

By the time someone is reading your book description, they have narrowed down to buying your book or someone else’s. They are close to buying. This is where your book description will help close the sale.

What makes a good headline?

So what makes a good headline? To some extent, the answer depends on your niche.  But most of the answer has to do with human psychology. Great headlines play to things like curiosity or satisfaction or problem solving.

Let’s consider an outlandish but insightful example. This is a tabloid style example (which I’m not saying you should use – it just illustrates the sort of headline that draws our attention):

How to Grow Pumpkins (this is a “ho hum” boring title)

First Time Gardener Harvests a 102 Pound Pumpkin From Seed (tabloid style)

The second headline is again, outlandish. But it evokes curiosity, doesn’t it?

There are a few ingredients that you are sure to find across all great headlines. They tend to be shorter. Think Twitter “tweet” sized versus Facebook “post” sized.

Questions often make compelling headlines. Facts also make for interesting headlines.

What types of headline should you avoid?

Avoid using ambiguity. Saying “Author of over 20 books” is not as powerful or interesting as giving the exact fact: “Author of 23 books”.

Avoid using the title of your book as your book description headline. Again, people have already come to your sales page or picked up your book. They have seen your title and your sub-title. Now you must get their attention and draw them into buying.

How to get good headline ideas for your niche/genre

When it comes to researching good headline ideas for your book description, take a trip to the library or local newsstand.

Pick up a bunch of magazines from your niche or genre and study the covers of the magazines. Magazines and the table of contents are filled with news and article topics. Each one is vying for your attention. Write down the ones you like – the ones you think may resonate with people who would read your book.

It may be tempting to check out what other successful authors in your niche/genre have written. Go ahead and look. But don’t be surprised if you see some pretty boring headlines being used. Most self published authors write the book description / back cover text for their book on a whim right before they publish the book live.

And believe me, they sell less books because of it.

You are trying to sell more books and be successful. Don’t miss out on this easy opportunity to help sell readers on your book.


Photo Credit: Bart Everson on Flickr

Little Known Facts About the Look Inside Feature on Amazon

14288135_05fd9e848a_zWhat do readers see when they look inside your book?

Do they get excited to buy?

After reading a few pages will they be ready to click buy?

By the time the reader has gone to the trouble of picking up your book to look inside, they are very close to buying. The book cover and title have done their job. The book description or sales page has done its job.

Now comes the final test

The reader wants to know what’s inside. They want to know what you are table of contents looks like. They want to see how the book is introduced.

Is your book ready for that?

Is your table of contents optimized to sell the reader on your book? And what about your introduction.

(To be clear: I’m not advocating for getting salesy with the highlighted text or fancy sales page arrows or anything like that).

Let’s talk about how to optimize the inside of your book to get people to buy.

The number one thing that browsers want to see when they look in your book is the table of contents. They are looking to see if the table of contents looks interesting. Does it solve their problem? Does it sound entertaining?

So the number one task with your table of contents is to make sure it does not turn readers away. It should simply confirm what the reader is already thinking – that this is the book they want.

But how do we accomplish this? The best thing you can do is use descriptive language in your chapter titles. Instead of just using the phrase Chapter 1 – Self Publishing, use Chapter 1 – The Number One Reason Why Most Self Publishers Fail.

See how that works? Now the reader feels compelled to read chapter 1 to find out why most self published authors fail. Whereas, in the first example, the reader had no compelling reason to open up chapter 1.

Your chapter descriptions should be thought of like headlines or email subjects. You don’t have to be salesy, but the phrase or question should be interesting enough to make the reader want to learn more. Use curiosity to your advantage. People are naturally curious. Tap into that curiosity by making your chapter names such that people are curious to read more.

Some authors also use sub topics in the table of contents. I do not have a preference either way. But if you choose to show subtopics, make sure they sound interesting to.

One way to think about your chapter descriptions is like they were headlines for blog posts. What would draw the reader in to reading the blog post?

If you need some examples for your particular niche or genre, browse the table of contents of popular books in your category. How do they do it? What sort of language do those authors use in their table of contents?

Getting the introduction right

In addition to the table of contents, readers often read the first few paragraphs of the introduction to your book. Avoid having a really dry or boring introduction.

The job of your introduction is to get the reader to turn the page to chapter 1 and begin the book. If you are struggling with what to say in the introduction to your book, take a look at your book description. Your book description is the place where you hook the reader into picking up your book and considering buying it. The introduction is in many ways a continuation of that hook.

For example, let’s say your hook on the book description is something like

Little known factors that affect how easy it is to read your writing

Make your introduction congruent with that hook.

 Have you ever picked up a book – a book that sounded really promising – only to find you just couldn’t finish it? The hook was good. The information was helpful. But for some reason you just couldn’t bring yourself to carry on reading it? More than likely, the problem was caused by a series of little known factors that make some writing really hard to read…

Does that make sense? It doesn’t have to be a sales pitch. Your simply continuing the conversation and helping draw the reader in. Using this technique will help make it easy for shoppers to decide to buy your book!

You have written a fantastic book. Make sure that your table of contents in your introduction support the quality of your book. This way, when a reader is interested and they pick up your book to look inside, you are simply supporting their buying decision.

If you like this, would you please take a moment to share it? Thank you!

Photo from Tall Chris on Flickr

What to Include in the Front Matter of Your Book

Are readers seeing your offer or other important information you’re giving them at the beginning of your book?

Possibly not!

Most tablet style readers like the Kindle and iPad send readers right to your Introduction – skipping over the front matter of your book. But that’s okay. You still need front matter. Read on to find out the best place to put your important calls-to-action…

First, though, what makes up the typical front matter of a book (even a Kindle book)?

Of course, you want to include the typical front matter in your Kindle book. So let’s start with what is the typical front matter.

The beginning pages of your book should include a copyright page, a dedication, a table of contents, and possibly any disclaimers that you would like to make.

If you need an example of a copyright page, just open up any one of the books you already own and take a look at how they’ve done it. That’s the easiest way.

Basically, the copyright page should include a copyright symbol plus the year that your book is published. It should also include the publisher is. And of course, you want to include that you the author wrote the book. In some cases, you may have an ISBN number, an ASIN number, or a library control (LCCN) number. You can include all of those on the copyright page.

Some books have a dedication. I recommend that you dedicate your book to someone or some cause. Why not?

In some books, it makes sense to include a disclaimer about the information that your sharing in your book. For example, if you write on health related topic, you may want to express the fact that some readers may experience a different result from the things he recommend in your book. If you’re really worried about the things you say in your book possibly causing someone to sue you then it’s a good idea to have an attorney help you with the disclaimer text.

Your book should also include a table of contents. In Kindle books, the table of contents should be hyperlinks. These hyperlinks allow readers to click on a chapter or subtopics within a chapter and move directly to that location in your book. Most word processors can automatically generate a table of contents for you. And these automatically generated table of contents can also be made into hyperlinks right inside the word processor.

That covers the basics of what belongs in the front of your book. However, one of the most important pieces to the front of your book is going to be your call to action to readers. This is where you ask the reader to come and visit your website and ultimately join your email list.

So where should you put this call to action?

Your call to action belongs in the introduction to your book. Why the introduction? I like to put my call to action in the introduction because Kindle often forces books to open at the introduction of the book skipping over the rest of the front matter.

So the reader would have to manually scroll back and view the front matter pages to see your call to action. Making the reader go this kind of trouble will greatly reduce the number of people who actually do it.

You, as a writer, don’t want to rely on readers to flip through pages of the book at the beginning to find a way to reach out to you or find other important information you want to share.

Therefore, the most important take-away from this article is to be sure that anything you want your readers to see and be aware of in your book should really be included in your introduction or later in the book.

Next, read about what goes in the back matter of your book. It’s not just the glossary and appendix!