My Weird Indie Publishing Project: New Descriptions

[In the first post about my Weird Indie Publishing Project, I explained why it was weird and stated that I would share my journey here so other beginning indie authors could benefit from my success or failure and what I learned by doing it. I also hoped that family and friends would better understand what I’m doing and why I’m not as available as I was when I was a workaholic professor. (That last bit was a sample of my bent humor.)]

Today’s post is a brief summary of what I learned from a webinar sponsored by K-lytics. The speaker was Bryan Cohen, a highly successful author. Introducing his new course, he spoke about writing book descriptions to sell more books.

How many more? He stated “15% more sales” when copy writing was used.

We all know the importance of using market-tested categories and keywords to get our book “on the table.” Simply getting the book in front of readers when there is so much competition is a feat in itself.

But assuming the reader has actually found your book page on Amazon, then what happens?

A quick read of the title, a glance at the book cover, and, if they’re still with you, a look at your book description. You get about 15 seconds to make an “elevator pitch,” says Cohen. Screenwriters understand the elevator pitch. It’s being able to express what their play is about in one sentence. But the recommended book description on Amazon is 150-300 words — shorter for fiction, longer for non-fiction.

Don’t expect to do it once and get the hook that works. I had already written a dozen book descriptions when I learned about this special webinar. I knew that successful authors like Sean Platt were skilled in copy writing, and I had read short articles about it. I could hardly wait to learn more and write another dozen descriptions

Cohen stressed that “quality comes with quantity” using da Vinci’s “100 sketches prior to painting” as an example. Many authors write a book description, post it, and assume they’re done. But Cohen says if readers found our book page, we need to get them excited enough to buy the book, and that happens with a great book description.

What constitutes a great book description? According to Cohen, copy writing. “Copy” refers to the words outside your book — on the back cover and on your book page. “Copy” is the words readers use to judge your book before they decide to buy. And “it is the one thing you have the most control over” said Cohen. Book description writing is copy writing.

While I listened to the ninety-five minute webinar twice, taking notes, I can only share the idea in this space and time and list the components of a book description formula, trusting that if you want to know more, you’ll take Cohen’s course or read his books. At the very least, as he said, you should practice using the formula at least 25-30 times.

Copy writing Formula

  • Headliner/hook (1 line)
  • Synopsis (2-3 paragraphs)
  • Selling paragraph (why they should buy it)
  • Call to Action (CTA)

As soon as the webinar finished, I started practicing for Book 3 in my Burnout to bliss series. (I am constantly “tweaking” book descriptions.) The first one below is one of the original descriptions for the book page on Amazon and Draft2Digital. The second one is my first effort to use copy writing.

Compare them for yourself:


Book description before the webinar:

Surrendering control is never easy. It’s even harder during meltdown.

 2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans – a story of healing (Book 3, Burnout to Bliss series) is the final story of an awakening experience, a two-year journey with one modest paycheck and no plans, launched with BURNOUT – How a Desert Lizard Restored My Faith.

Confused by trying to understand and heal the explosive combination of both workaholic burnout and existential crisis, the author wandered on faith in North America. Letting herself be guided from one location to the next by accepting whatever relevant opportunities came her way, she traveled from California to Mexico, to Colorado, to Canada, and even across the continent – once in a van with two cats. She experienced everything she needed for the total meltdown while house-sitting for a Canadian writer and tossing Animal crackers to her Yorkies. And she got the tools to heal herself from two lengthy stays in a center for yoga and health. But it wasn’t until her self-less service that she “found her mom,” discovered compassion, and healed her wounded heart.

Book description + copy writing

What would it be like if you believed that the universe was FOR you?

Needing to experience such support for herself, she journeyed for two years seeking healing from workaholic burnout and existential crisis. For money, she had only what was left of her last teacher’s paycheck. She had no plans. Because she had sublet her home, she had no place to live for at least another year.

In an uncharacteristic leap of faith, she plunged into the unknown.

This is the journey where the author learned to let the divine mystery guide her – from California to Mexico, to Colorado, to Canada, and even across the continent.

If you like reading stories about personal life-changing experience, then you’ll love reading 2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans.

To share this amazing journey through three countries and the mystery of a supportive universe, buy your copy of 2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans now.

Want Your Copy Now?

2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans is available for the sale price of $.99 for a limited time.

Get yours here, now:


or Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Indigo…



Your Turn: What do you think?

Did this beginner’s effort to use copy writing create more interest in buying the book? Please share our comments below.

Thanks for stopping by. Till next time, “Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Pam Young





2 responses to “My Weird Indie Publishing Project: New Descriptions

  1. Your second description is much improved! I would suggest some additional tweaks to the language.
    1. I suggest using Title Case (capitalize the first letter of each word) for the title of your book, in the description. I know the actual title is displayed without the caps, but when embedded in a sentence, my first impression was not that this was the book title, but rather that the fluid flow of words in the description had suddenly become jerky and clumsy, for an unknown reason.
    2. I suggest that you pick one highly successful memoir that is in the same tone or flavor as yours, and use its title in the “If you like” paragraph. Yes, your potential customer might navigate over to check out that other book, but they will get sticker shock, and come back to yours.
    3. Substitute “Pam Young” for “she” the first time you use it, and then sprinkle “Pam” throughout the blurb. This makes it clear the book is a memoir, and shares a little more of yourself (exposing your identity), than the anonymous “she”.
    4. Consider making the voice more intimate. For example, instead of “Needing to experience such support for herself, she journeyed…” try “Yearning to experience that support, Pam Young journeyed…”. In another example, try replacing “Because she had sublet her home, she had no place…” with “She had sublet her home, and had no place…”. In a third example, replace “This is the journey where the author learned…” with “Pam’s journey taught her…”.
    5. You’ve used “journey” twice in this short blurb; increase the variety and color of your language by avoiding this repetition.
    6. The last sentence should not appear on your back cover, or in your Amazon book description. It is appropriate on your author website, which can do more direct advertising.


  2. rappentest: Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. Re’ your comment about the last sentence, you do know that I was following a formula by a best-selling author, right? And that the CTA (call to action) is included as the last sentence in that formula? BTW: I just went to your WP site and wanted to read the post about bluebonnets, but I couldn’t figure out how to access it.


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