The Difference Between a Long and Short Book Description

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Want to instantly capture readers? You’re going to have to hit a home run with your book description. No matter who you are or what genre your book falls into – nothing beats getting engrossed in a book description that leaves a reader wanting more. Short and long book descriptions both serve a purpose – to make you and your book look good. Before you start writing, here are a few things you need to know.

Understanding Book Metadata

Whether reading the short or long description, both need to be full of what readers want: intrigue. It’s up to you to get readers interested in what you have to say, and while we know you could probably write pages upon pages explaining to someone what your book is about, your space and reader attention span are limited. When creating book metadata, such as your book description, you want to make sure you provide the information needed to help buyers, including consumers, booksellers, and librarians, understand what they're about to purchase and whether they want to. Having the right information in place determines not only whether you attract the attention of your audience, but whether you attract the right audience

First, it's helpful to understand how metadata fits into the equation. Book metadata is essential to your audience finding your book online and helps booksellers and librarians know where to place your book on their shelves. It consists of your title, subtitle, series name, author, book description and more. There are two metadata fields for your book description: the long description and the short description. Although both play a role in driving traffic to your book, they have distinct differences.

Long Book Descriptions

Your book description is a synopsis. When writing this description, think like a buyer, and not like the author. You must become a master at both show and tell. Show enough to paint the picture, and tell enough to get them interested in what happens next. Any specific highlights should immediately jump off the page. If you had to write your bio in 200 to 300 words, what would you say about yourself? How detailed would you be? If you're hoping to build a connection with the person reading your bio, you'd most likely reveal the best or most interesting aspects about yourself. You wouldn't tell them every minute detail; you'd tell them enough to let them know whether they wanted to get to know you better. Your book description should do the same.

Important Elements of a Long Book Description

There are a few elements your description should contain that are crucial to getting noticed:

  1. HeadlineA great headline can work wonders. Don’t make it too long, but do make it exciting enough to make them want more. This is the first thing people will see online when the rest of your book description gets cut off, so make sure it can stand alone and is grabbing. The headline should sell your book in a few words.
  2. DetailThis is the meat of your description. Give them a taste of the writing they can expect from you while revealing what your book is about. Break up your paragraphs, highlighting a good plot.
  3. ClosingThis is your final pitch to sell your book. Your audience is already interested; it’s time to seal the deal. Make it no more than 50 words, and make it memorable.

Short Descriptions

The short description is exactly that – short and sweet. Consider it a blurb, elevator pitch, or hook. It tells enough about your book to keep readers interested, and delivers enough punch to have them searching for the long description to read more.

Publishers use this short description to showcase and sell. It appears in publishing catalogs, trade show copy, online websites, marketing materials, press releases, and more. It's your book's calling card for the world to see. Informative, engaging and thought-provoking. That’s the reaction you want each time someone reads it.

Although the long and short book descriptions stand alone, they play off each other to provide rich content for your potential buyers. Both are used for marketing purposes, public information, and to drive sales. Before writing either of these pieces, do your research. What are the keywords that your potential buyers search for? Make sure you write your book descriptions using words your ideal consumer would be searching for so that you can attract the right attention more efficiently. Look at other long descriptions and short descriptions to determine whether or not you find them engaging and get tips from the ones you do. The first step is getting discovered, and the second is keeping them engrossed in what you've written. Remember to stay age-appropriate, relatable, and highlight any awards you may have won to enhance your selling points. Everything else will fall into place.

As we mentioned, book descriptions are only one piece of your title metadata. Download our guide for tips on filling in additional metadata fields essential to your book's discovery.


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IngramSpark Staff

Hi there! It's your friendly IngramSpark staff here, happily sharing a wealth of publishing knowledge with people from all walks of the self-publishing biz.