Books don't sell themselves.
Sure, a good title and cover help, but it's the "blurb" that seals the deal.
Some of the worst advice on marketing has been from some of the "guru's" with thousands of followers.
Because "conventional wisdom" says that a lot of followers must mean they know what they are talking about. And because someone has one or a few books that sell well doesn't mean they know how to market. Yet these supposed experts feel they can tell you how to write blurbs that market your book.
How to Write a Good Non-Fiction Blurb That Gets Read And Gets Sales
Blurbs are 4,000 character descriptions - and that means about 500 words (at 8 characters per word on average).
And that whole blurb isn't what the reader sees. Usually just the title, cover, and first two or three blurb lines. Then your potential customers have to click a "see more" link which opens up everything else.
And lets face it - Amazon wants you to buy a lot of other things than books. Or they would be like Kobo or Barnes & Noble and just have a few book recommendations on that page (instead of literally hundreds of links to other stuff than your own book.).
Your job is to capture that reader's interest and fuel that spark so that they hit that "Buy Now" link with a fevered expectation.
Simply: blurbs are good copywriting.
In copywriting, the rule is that your first line (headline) gets your reader to read the next one. And that next line gets them to read the one after that, and so on.
At the end, you've encouraged that reader to click through and become your customer.
All by something you've written. No other flashy graphics or other crutches. (These arbitrary limits are just for the book distributors, but the underlying rules are those of good copywriting, which apply everywhere.)
The Core Structure of Copywriting
The most in-demand textbook on copywriting today was written in the '60's by Eugene Schwartz, called "Breakthrough Advertising". And you can only find it as an expensive hardback, through a single link on the Internet. Direct from that publisher. (Yes, it's worth it.)
Sure, Schwartz laid out the above rules and more, but he also referred - twice - to another book that has been out of print for many decades: "Writing Non-Fiction" by Walter S. Campbell.
Campbell (aka Stanley Vestal) was also a popular fiction writer - and ran the only really effective writers course out of Oklahoma University. As part of this, he distilled the four-step structure that is common to both fiction and non-fiction:
"Hey!" gets their attention and pulls them into the story. "You!" emphasises the benefits your book is going to give them. "See?" explains the mechanisms of how the content of your book will create those benefits in their lives. "So..." is the Call To Action - that gets them to slick on that buy link now to get instant access to that special book.
Fiction blurbs are very similar, but will be the subject of another article (so stay tuned...)
Play Around With These to Perfect Your Blurb Copy
There are more elements that Campbell itemized in his book - such as having both a fact and an emotion inside each sentence, and alternating their placement to get maximal results.
You'll probably see, as I did, that this also parallels Schwartz' copywriting methods. This just augments what he wrote in "Breakthrough Advertising". And distilling that material to its basics gives you far more tools to effectively help people find and acquire your book for themselves.
Because that's the point of this. Advertising is "Salesmanship in Print" and salesmanship is helping people find products and services that will improve their lives.
And that's all we are here for, really - to help others improve their lives through our solutions to their problems.
In the next installment, I'll define how to write a book-selling blurb for any fiction book based on these same timeless principles.
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Meanwhile, consider getting my "Breakthrough Copywriter" book that distills Schwartz' "Breakthrough Advertising" and has additional bonuses such as the two surviving transcripts of Schwartz lecturing copywriters on how to advertise effectively. (See the link below...)Get your copy of "Breakthrough Copywriter"