A few months ago, Dave Chesson, creator of Kindlepreneur.com, received an email from Galaxy Press. Galaxy Press is the publishing company of famed sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard, and the email asked for Dave’s help in writing a new book description for one of Hubbard’s most famous books, Battlefield Earth.
A step-by-step approach to writing a strong book description
Feeling honored, Dave approached the task methodically. First, he returned to basics and reviewed some trusted books and articles about what makes a good book description. Next, he scoured the web for book reviews, including professional blogs, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. “The best strategy for writing a description that makes people buy is not only knowing the book, but also finding out what people say was their favorite part of the book, and expanding on that,” he writes.
His next step was to analyze the current book description, looking for shortcomings and missed opportunities. He found three: first, the existing blurb “gave away too much information and lavished in details – this is a sales page book description, not a book report,” he said. Second, he thought the book description focused too much on the fight between two characters, rather than emphasizing the high stakes of the plot and the depth of its unfolding. Finally, he felt the description used too many run-on sentences and overall wasn’t engaging enough.
Using the notes he gathered and his analysis of the description, Dave set about to write a better blurb. When he was satisfied with his draft, he asked himself, is this description truly better?
Testing book descriptions
“I don’t like to make decisions by guessing,” he writes. “That’s why I used PickFu to get real feedback.”
Dave took his description and the old description and conducted a PickFu survey of 100 fiction readers aged 18-34. His description was preferred by a 2-1 margin, winning 67% of the votes.
So what did you learn?
The one thing Dave says he’d do differently is to pose a different question. His survey asked, “Which book description do you like better for the book Battlefield Earth?” Some respondents familiar with the book interpreted the question as which option best described the book.
If he were to run it again, a better question might be, “Which book blurb would make you want to buy the book if you read it on an Amazon book sales page?”
“I have a feeling if I had phrased my question better, I would have had even better results,” Dave said.
Slaying the book description beast
With real-world feedback in hand, Dave was confident in his new description. He pushed it live to Amazon, making sure to format it nicely in HTML and to include the book’s most pertinent accolades.
And with that, Dave had won an epic sci-fi book description battle.
Could your next blurb use a victory like that? Try a PickFu survey now!
Also published on Medium.