For Amazon Kindle self-publishing you have a max word count of 4000 words. For children’s picture books, it is recommended NOT to go above 200 words. Going into too much detail could put off potential buyers.
NOTE ALSO: There is NO author biography on the Amazon Kindle self-publishing site so put it in after your book description.
Writing a book description is possibly, after designing the book cover, your next biggest advertisement to selling your book. Keep it simple and sweet. And don’t give away the ending! A little mystery is what you want to keep readers wanting to know more.
If you are having trouble getting started, first look at your book cover or even better get someone else to look at your book cover and get their feelings on what the book might be about – what images and thoughts do they conjure up in your / their head?
Write down 3 adjectives to describe the book, for example, exciting … entertaining … hopeful
Next, do a quick summary of your book. Here is an article from wikihow on writing a book summary.
1. Read the book thoroughly.
2. Write down the basics of the story.( Example: Write down the main character or characters and some brief descriptions of them, the plot, the setting, etc.)
3. Start by briefly describing the key characters. (This will make the reader familiar with them so that the plot makes more sense.)
4. Introduce the plot (orientation).
- The current conflict at the start of the story (initiating event), and how it affects the characters.
5. Sweep the book. Grab key moments (the ones that stick out) and then generalize them, linking one key moment to the next.
6. End with the resolution if needed. Depending on what assignment you have, write the ending events. If you want your summary to persuade your reader to actually read the book, don’t include the end, but also don’t include tiny, tiny details.
7. Edit, revise and proofread it. Have someone who has read the book proofread it they will find some mistakes you forgot.
8. Change the summary as needed.
Have a look at these product descriptions from Amazon. Authors write their book descriptions in different ways, for example,
1. a few lines from their book and a very brief book description
Happy Animals. A Children’s Animal Picture Book [Kindle Edition]
Happy frog, on a log.
Happy owl, in a tree.
Happy ducks. One, two, three.
A book of happy animal pictures with simple rhyming text, and a happy ending!
2. a very general description of the book’s story, what the dilemmas are and who the book is targeted at
Orangey the Goldfish
This fun children’s picture book is about the growing story of a relationship between a little boy Billy and his new pet goldfish named Orangey. Billy also has a younger sister he must deal with as he learns to care for Orangey. This book may be ideal for young kids but enjoyable for the whole family as well! Follow the entire series and buy other Orangey the Goldfish book titles for your Kindle: “Orangey the Goldfish: Hello Sister, Hello Minnie” and “Orangey the Goldfish: Orangey and Minnie Forever.”
3. customer reviews, how well the book has been received by readers (parents), what type of illustrations are contained in the book and who the book is targeted at.
My Little Pet Dragon
Find out why My Little Pet Dragon was the #1 Free Children’s E-book on Amazon! (01/20/2012)
“My Little Pet Dragon is a cute, funny, picture eBook that is sure to delight your little ones…” –Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
“If you are looking for a cute read for your young child then this is a book worth purchasing. The pictures in this book are so vivid and entertaining. The story is sure to generate a few giggles too. My three year old wanted me to read it over and over again. I absolutely loved it! I would definitely recommend purchasing this book.” –Allison Fees, Bee’s Knees Book Reviews
A picture book that can only be described as fun and adorable, My Little Pet Dragon features over 30 pages of incredible computer-generated artwork.
Find out what happens when the young reader gets a pet dragon for Christmas!
A bedtime story for children 3-6 that is sure to delight (even adults will find plenty to smile about)!
4. My book description!
A flamingo chick wants to be a dancer but he has a long way to go. With support and inspiration from family and friends, he pushes himself to reach his goal. He tries, gives up and tries again. His inner determination is what pulls him through.
A comforting bedtime story where young children learn that they can do anything if they keep trying.
About the Author
Isis Ixworth lives in Tokyo and has written and illustrated several children’s books. ‘No Ripples’ is the first to be published online. Isis has documented her journey to writing and illustrating picture books for 2 – 6 year olds in her blog, www.isisixworth.wordpress.com.
Lastly, here is a brilliant article on how to write book descriptions by Richard Ridley from CreateSpace.com This is how to write a book description for adult novels, however, you can use the same ideas with children’s books.
How to Write an Effective Book Description
One of the most crucial elements to selling a book is also probably the most difficult element to create for authors. The book description is your lead in, your chance to hook a reader and get them to crack the cover and satisfy their curiosity. Even in an online environment, the book description can bridge the gap between having just another title among a sea of choices and a sellable book worth reading.
The problem is that many authors have a hard time writing a good book description. The main reason it can prove so difficult is because they don’t want to leave anything out. As the creator of the material, there’s a natural instinct to find a way to cram all or as much of that material into the description. But too many details can render your description confusing and ineffective.
Elements of the Book Description
As someone who has failed and triumphed over book descriptions, here is what I have learned through my personal series of trial and error. Call them rules, suggestions or ramblings of an author gone mad, but I’ve collected these tips by observing and consulting with other authors, both self-published and traditionally published.
1. Don’t include subplots. When it comes to the book description, the only thing that matters is the main plot or main theme. That’s all you need to focus on when you sit down to write your book description. Including anything else will send you off into an endless loop of “then this happened” moments that will dilute your book description. What is the primary action that drives your book?
2. Keep it under 150 words. This, no doubt, will elicit some moans and groans by a lot of authors. Summarizing a book that consists of tens of thousands of words to just 150 is impossible, right? No. In fact, I am of the belief that you should be able to summarize your book in a single short sentence. Remember, you don’t have to concern yourself with the character development and sub-plots, so those tens of thousands of words it takes to adequately draw a reader into a book aren’t necessary when it comes to your book description. In the simplest terms, what is your book about and what will make readers interested?
3. Write in third person, present tense. Even though your book is most likely told in past tense, your book description is not. You are describing this book as if you’re sitting face to face with the reader, and they’ve asked you what the book is about. You wouldn’t speak to them in the past tense. In addition, the book description is told from third person point-of-view even if you’ve written your book from first person point-of-view.
4. Use emotional power words. You are trying to evoke emotions with your book description, the same emotions that your book evokes. To convey these feelings, you need emotional powers words like tormented, charismatic, passion, obsession, terrifying, etc. There are too many to mention here, but a quick search for “Power Words” on the internet will produces hundreds of words to choose from. Just be careful not to overdo it. Use power words sparingly and strategically. If I had to put a number it, I’d say in a 125 word description, you’d use 6-10 emotional power words.
5. You are not the author. You are not writing your book description as the author. You are writing it as the publisher. Making an impact on the reader is your principal concern. What will move the reader to want to know more about your book? What will motivate the reader to add your book to his or her cart? Write the book description with your head, not your heart. Remember, the book description is marketing material – not literature.
Those are my five main points when it comes to writing a book description. Another good practice when writing your book description is to read as many book descriptions in your genre as possible. It’s a great way to figure out what the industry standard is. These descriptions become industry standards for one reason: they sell books.
Here’s an example of a book description that I believe gets it right. It’s for Gil Adamson’s novel, The Outlander, published by Harper Collins in 2007.
In 1903 Mary Boulton flees alone across the West, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At nineteen, she has just become a widow-and her husband’s killer. As bloodhounds track her frantic race toward the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two ruthless brothers-in-law are in pursuit, determined to avenge their younger brother’s death. Responding to little more than the primitive instinct for survival at any cost, she retreats ever deeper into the wilderness-and into the wilds of her own mind.
From the description, I know the book is a psychological thriller featuring a young woman on the run from some very nasty people. I get a hint that her husband may have deserved his fate, but I’m also led to believe that Mary Boulton may be mentally unstable. The description is roughly 90 words. It’s told in third-person, present tense, and I count seven emotional power words (“heart-pounding,” “frantic,” “tormented,” “mad,” “ruthless,” “primitive,” and “wilds”). I only know the main plot: she killed her husband, and now she’s a fugitive running for her life. I picked up the book because of its cover, but I opened the book because of this description. I now own it.
You’re not just writing your description for your back cover. You’re also writing this for your social media network, as part of your bio information for personal appearances, for flyers and other print material, etc. This isn’t just for you; it’s for your fans. With a concise book description, they are more likely to copy and paste it into an email to friends and family or on their own social networking accounts. Think of this type of description as being portable. It’s easy to share and, as a result, is a major tool in your spread-the-word campaign.
I will leave you with this: you may get it wrong the first time you try to write a book description, and that’s okay. It’s just another part of the process. As you go through various versions, don’t delete those earlier ones. I’ve found that by combining the elements of the latest version with earlier versions, I hit pay dirt. Good luck, and happy selling!