Pssst, hey you…Yeah, you non-fiction indie book author…come here…
Would you like to learn the dark art of psychological persuasion so you can turn book browsers into book buyers?
Would you like to create a book description that works like a magic love potion?
(If you’re publishing a print version of your book, the “book description” should be the same as your “back cover” copy.)
So you’ve written a great book, it has a great title and cover, and it’s actually discoverable. Your work still isn’t done. (Yep, it’s hard being an author.)
After someone clicks on your book title to learn more about it, she’ll be presented with the “Book Description”. OK, that’s a lie. She’ll be presented with about one inch, or four lines, of your book’s description. She needs to click the “Read more” link to actually see your description.
The #1 mistake authors make with the book description is that they use it to summarize the book. Oh, this is where I’ll tell them what’s inside! Gong! Wrong answer.
The goal of your book description is to persuade the person to actually buy it. Say this mantra three times…
The book description is sales copy…The book description is sales copy…The book description is sales copy…
Fine, you say, how do I write persuasive sales copy? There is an art to persuasion, but a simple 6-part formula that works wonder is this.
STEP 1: The first sentence is your book’s Ultimate Promise.
The payoff, the benefit, the dream! This is the single most important sentence in your entire description. Spend a lot of time on this one sentence. You need to boil it down to one sentence because Amazon only shows the first couple sentences, and people have short attention spans.
People don’t care about your book; they care about their problems and their dreams. Also, people are lazy and cheap so they want to accomplish amazing things without spending time, effort or money on it.
A formula that works for the first sentence is:
[Ultimate Promise] Without [Bad Stuff]
[Ultimate Promise] In Only / With[Ridiculous fast/easy]
My book is about time management, but the ultimate promise was an increase in productivity.
Using the above formula you might write a first sentence like:
- Double Your Productivity Without Feeling Overworked and Overwhelmed
- Get 10 New Clients Without Making Any Cold Calls
- Drop 10 Pounds Without Dieting Or Exercise
Or slight variations:
- Declutter Your House In Only 10-Minutes A Day
- Find Your Dream Job In Only 30 Days
- Increase Your Happiness With 3 Simple Steps
STEP 2) Stack one or two more benefits of your book, using “What if…” or “Imagine…” statements.
While your book should have an ultimate promise, it’s very likely that in your research of your audience and writing of your book, you uncovered other benefits.
My book was about time management, the ultimate promise was an increase in productivity, but why do people want to be more productive? So they could get more free time for themselves. I actually surveyed them and asked, “What would you do if you had an extra hour a day?” I tallied up their answers and now spit them back to prospective buyers: read, exercise, family—in that order.
Try to write your additional benefits using the magic words, “What if…” or “Imagine…”. This approach is called “future pacing” by the hypnotists and psychologists out there. You are triggering a visual representation of an ideal future state. It is very emotionally compelling, and the visualization makes the promise seem more real. You hear this type of language all the time on infomercials. “How would your life be different if you had an extra $5,000 a month from passive real estate?” Or, “Imagine how you’ll feel walking into your 20-year high school reunion, in a little black dress…”
IMPORTANT: The whole goal of the first few sentences is to promise RESULTS that will make the reader click the “Buy now” button—and if they don’t because they’re still skeptical—they should be convinced to click the Read more link.
STEP 3) Build authority and credibility.
Now you’ve got your potential reader visualizing how perfect and amazing their life will be if they get your book. But maybe you’re a rotten liar! Maybe it’s a scam! Maybe you cackle in delight every time you steal $2.99 from the pocket of a naïve book-loving good-samaritan!
So you convince them you’re not and of those things. You can be TRUSTED. You build trust with authority and credibility statements.
You introduce yourself as the author in as glowing terms as possible.
This is about the only time I think being a New York Times bestselling author helps me, but I don’t think most people know the difference between NY Times and just “Amazon bestselling author” or just “bestselling author”.
So this is your chance to brag. Let them know you’re, “kind of a big deal”. Are you “award winning”, or “Doctor”, or “4-time author”, “blue ribbon winner”, you get the idea. And how else can you show authority and credibility? Did you interview any big names? Did you spend a lot of time or money on research? Did you transform yourself from poor to rich, fat to skin, lonely to loved? Anything that makes them trust you more goes into this paragraph.
STEP 4) Describe the contents with open-loops and curiosity-triggers.
OK, they’re really gripping their $2.99 hard and they still haven’t clicked that darn “Buy now” button.
This is where you pile it on. This is where you turn it into a Godfather-offer (i.e., an offer they can’t refuse!). You want to show them all the incredible things that are in your incredible never ending book!
BUT DON’T JUST SUMMARIZE IT.
You need to summarize your books key points—hopefully it’s chapters—in a way that tickles their brain.
You need to describe your book in a way that is going to make them unable to sleep tonight if they don’t buy your book.
You do this with “open loops”. Like a cat that just can’t walk past a cabinet without opening the door to see what’s inside (freakin’ Oscar–so annoying), we humans just have to know what happens next, or what the answer is, once we’re curious.
For non-fiction problem-solving books, the old “How to…” is a solid approach, as long as it’s combined with a curiosity trigger. Stack the benefits!
Example 1: I say in my book that if you really want to get stuff done, don’t write it on a to-do list, just schedule it in your calendar. If you have a specific day and time assigned to a task, it will get done (usually) at that date and time. Now I could have written the bullet as:
- Use a calendar instead of a to-do list
Which might get any of these responses:
- That’s dumb.
- I already do that.
- Brilliant! And now I don’t need to buy the book because I know the secret.
So instead, I write:
- Why millionaires don’t use to-do lists (and what they DO use)
This is more likely to result, either on a conscious or unconscious level, in:
- Millionaires, ahhhh. (dopamine surge!)
- What?! No to-do lists? This Kruse-author is crazy and stupid. I never heard of such an idiotic thing. I wonder why he says that? I wonder…better buy it to find out why he’d say such a ridiculous thing.
- Hmm, they don’t use to do lists? I wonder what they DO use? What could it be? I have no idea…it’s going to eat away at me…it’s only $2.99, I’d better find out what he says.
Blue circles are stacking benefits on top of each other.
Example 2: In my book I report on an article in Harvard Business Review where researchers discovered that by looking at your daily calendar and asking if you can Drop, Delegate or Redesign any of the items, you can save an average of 8 hours a week. So I could have described that chapter as:
- Always try to Drop, Delegate or Redesign your tasks
Once again, snoozefest, or thanks, now that you just told me that, I don’t need to buy the book.
So instead I wrote:
- How the Harvard DDR Questions save 8 hours a week
I of course included the 8 hours. Always good to offer a benefit and SPECIFICITY SELLS (notice the title of this very blog post? Shhh, don’t tell anyone). I name dropped Harvard to give it authority/credibility and changed “Drop, Delegate or Redesign” to “DDR” to stimulate curiosity, establish an open-loop that is going to itch their brain non-stop and force them to buy.
[BONUS TIP: You should always have a couple of bonus chapters at the end of your book. People love bonuses! “Wow, it’s extra! It’s really worth the money now! It’s so nice of the author to give it to me.” What kind of stuff can you create as bonus material? I don’t know. How about take the last two chapters you already have and put the word “Bonus” in front of them. Voila! Hope you enjoyed this “Bonus Tip”. :-)]
STEP 5: Restate your ultimate promise.
STEP 6: Command them to buy your book.
According to the hypnotists and persuasion psychologists out there, if you have rapport with a subject, commands work better than requests or suggestions.
All the copy we just reviewed should have the reader
- visualizing their awesome future life,
- convinced you’re “kind of a big deal”,
- SO DAMN CURIOUS about all your chapter stuff that they are ready to buy.
But if they are still on the edge…
…you command them.
“Pick up your copy today by clicking the BUY NOW button at the top of this page!”
“Pick up your copy” tells them it’s already their copy. It’s theirs, just waiting for them.
“now” tells them, right now, not later when you look at the other books in this category. Not later when you’ve read the other 100 books on your Kindle. NOW.
Mention the “’BUY NOW’ button at the top…”mainly just because a lot of people are stupid and won’t know what to do next. They will have scrolled down to read your brilliant description and say, “Dang, Maggie, where’d that big ol’ orange button go? It was here, and then it just disappeared!”
OK, even with all that Secret-Ninja-Gansta persuasive book description I can’t promise that everyone will buy your book. BUT, I’ll bet you’ll agree that it will increase your conversion rate considerably.
This is a guest post from the amazing Kevin Kruse, the author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management