How to Write a Book Description: Six Essential Types

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A compelling book description can be the deciding factor in capturing your readers’ attention or losing it altogether. Learn how to craft a brilliant book summary and boost your book sales with these six types of descriptions:

Think of your favorite books — the ones that have captivated your imagination and sparked your curiosity. What drew you to them? Was it book reviews singing its praise, a book cover illustrating an evocative visual, or an irresistible book title calling out your name? Chances are, the book summary played a pivotal role in inviting you further, acting as a concise storyteller that determined your commitment to reading.

A good book description conveys the main idea of the story while piquing interest, enticing readers to find out what happens next. Whether it’s the story of an orphan wizard discovering his destiny, a hero’s journey to save Middle Earth, or an eccentric detective solving crimes in Victorian London, it’s easy to describe these stories in a short paragraph… or even a single sentence.

Distilling your entire book into a few words is an art. A book description can make all the difference between someone choosing to read your book or passing it by. I’ll identify six ways to craft an excellent book description that hooks your target audience and maximizes your book marketing efforts.

Your book description


Can you describe your book’s story in a few words? If you can’t, there is some work to be done in unraveling and developing your idea. Take the time to sift out the details and outline each major plot point. You might start out thinking you are writing “Book A,” but once the characters start talking to you, you realize you are writing “Book B.”


The only issue with this path is the time it takes. You might write only to re-write numerous times. This can be extremely productive for those who get to the desired end. For others, the length of the walk, especially if it never develops into a run, can prove to be too much. If the path is too long, you might give up before reaching the finish line.

Start with one main idea


It pays to take time to make sure you have one idea big enough to support a book-length tale. With this good idea at its heart, you should easily be able to write a great book description. It might help to write short summaries of your book long before you finish it. You don’t need to, but it’s a good test of where you are on the path. Many writers insist on formulating a short description from the start.

Having the big picture handy is essential if you want to sell your idea before you even write the book. Think of the famous movie bigwigs sitting in an office, with their feet up, presenting their pitch to a potential investor.

“So, I want to make a movie about this topic…” and the investor rips off her glasses, smacks her palms onto the table and screams, “Yes! I’ll give you the money. We have to make this movie!”

Your book description should evoke a similar response from a potential reader.

If you are writing a book, you’ll have to express its key points in several different forms. If you are to succeed in getting your book distributed, you will have to think in shorter formats, which all require you to condense a big message to the bare minimum of words. Consider the following types of book descriptions.


  1. Your book’s title

The first – often the hardest – summary of your book will be the one on the front cover. Your title is the first encounter a reader has with your story. It should be compelling, memorable, and reflective of your book’s main idea. A great title often incorporates elements of intrigue, relevance to the story, and is easy to recall. For fiction, think of titles that set the tone, hint at the theme, or introduce the main character (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). For nonfiction, titles that clearly state the book’s value or unique perspective work well (A Brief History of Time). If you can, include relevant keywords without compromising creativity.


  1. Elevator Pitch, or Logline

While your title should tap into the core of your story, it is often a subtle reference to the true content of your book, designed to entice. An elevator pitch (or logline) should sum up the major plot point or source of conflict.

As the name implies, an elevator pitch is a concise summary of your book that you could deliver in the time it takes to ride an elevator. It should describe the essence of your story without giving away too much. This pitch needs to be intriguing enough to spark interest and give a sense of what makes your book different. For fiction, focus on the plot’s hook or the main character’s journey. For nonfiction, emphasize the unique insight or value the reader will gain.


  1. Back Flap

What will the back flap of your book look like? What few sentences can you use to draw your readers in? How much will you need to give away to corral them? What will you save for when they are deep into the story?

The back flap (or the blurb often on the back of a book) is prime real estate for a persuasive and concise summary. This should include a brief overview of the story or subject matter, an enticing hook, and a glimpse of what the reader can expect. The back flap can also include author credentials or endorsements to add credibility. Use paragraph breaks strategically to make the text inviting and readable. This part of the book can most commonly sway a reader’s decision to buy or pass.


  1. Book Synopsis

Do you deliver not only a great tease but the real goods? A book synopsis provides a more detailed overview of your story or topic, including the main plot points and the story arc (for fiction). Unlike the back flap, the synopsis is more comprehensive and may include spoilers. It’s particularly useful for agents or reviewers who will want to know how the story turns out. Ensure that the synopsis is well-structured and clearly communicates the entirety of your book, whether it’s a fiction narrative or nonfiction work.


  1. Outline

This is optional, but even if you never make one before putting pen to paper, a solid outline can be extracted from any great book with a clear logical structure.

Many writers sell books before writing them based on the strength of their outline. But more often, authors use outlines to guide their writing (if you create and use one, you are more plotter than pantser).

Either way, an outline is a condensed form of all the best action points of your book. It reveals the internal structure of your story, and it must be airtight. The outline alone should make you excited to write your book as much as it should make a potential reader excited to get their hands on it.


  1. Selected Quotes or Reading Passages

These are descriptions that fewer people talk about, but they are important. If you get to the point of publishing your book and marketing it, you will hopefully find yourself at the podium delivering a reading. The question is, what sections do you read? Picking them out in advance can be a helpful way to take a new look at your story. If you don’t have any sections that make suitable reading, perhaps you have more work to do.


The best books deliver great quotes as well. Are you proud of any passages in your book that you think are good enough to be quoted?


Sure, here is the rewritten blog text following your instructions. Since I can’t actually provide handwritten text directly, please envision this as if it were written in a neat, legible human handwriting font.


The Power of an Excellent Book Description

Don’t underestimate the impact of a compelling book description, especially in the world of self-publishing. It’s not just a summary; think of it as your book’s invitation to open up to the very first page.

Whether it’s the title, the logline, or the back flap, each factor plays a role in capturing readers’ attention. The effort you invest into crafting a good book description is a reflection of the quality and uniqueness of your story, an essential element of book marketing, and a tool that can turn a casual browser into an avid reader.

So, make those words count!

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