Today is my last day of work for two weeks! It's so enjoyable without the kids there. The grown-ups, or at least most of them, are friendly. There's no one to throw blueberries at the whiteboard, hit another kid, or tell me I should be working at McDonald's instead. Plus I get free food sometimes.
I've been having quite a time with selling books on Amazon. I've taken classes about Amazon ads, I've purchased software, I set up my Amazon author page. But sales have still been a bit slow. I know that my product isn't to blame. I've had several people give me feedback, and every single one of them has said they enjoy my book. I know that my marketing skills are lacking, but the ads should be at least paying for themselves.
And then I realized that my description was probably to blame.
If you meet me in real life, one of the first thing you'll notice about me is that I don't enjoy spending money. If it's free, I'm on it. If I have coupons or a gift card, I'll buy it. Otherwise...unless it's food, I'll usually do without, make it myself, or find it cheaper somewhere else. So that's why I was glad to get a $5 Kindle gift card, and even more glad to find a Kindle book about how to sell books on Amazon for $4.99.
Amazon still says I have a $0.01 credit on my account. They're adorable.
Reading that book has helped me, but I was also able to formulate my own conclusion about writing book descriptions. So if you, dear readers, are writers yourself, or if you just need to suck your children into a bedtime story, here's a bit of advice for you.
Set up what's normal for your character. And then destroy it.
The author of my new Kindle book pointed us to the Amazon description for The Girl on the Train, which was apparently wildly popular. I haven't read this book--I'm still suffering through C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength--but the Amazon description is pretty nifty.
One thing I didn't understand, though, is why the better half of the description focuses on the main character's daily commute to work and everything she sees on it. Why does it matter that she's made up her own names for the elderly couple she sees eating breakfast on their front porch every morning?
I don't know why it matters. But apparently, it works.
I followed the same formula when I rewrote my Amazon book description. I set up what was normal--not quite Alynn's backstory, but what her life is like before the events of the book start--and then I say that everything is going to change.
I only hint at what happens. After all, why read a book when you know what happens? This is why I admire Lemony Snickett and his passing references of bad things in his Series of Unfortunate Events--"If you don't like stories that involve large-fanged fish, prosthetic limbs with minds of their own, or toothpaste that tastes like burnt meatloaf, this book is not for you." (I made that up. But I wouldn't put it past Lemony Snickett to write about such things.)
So, to sum it up: set up what's normal, and then destroy it. Hint at what's to come, don't tell us outright. Heck, that sounds like a good way to outline a novel, too....
What's your favorite book description? Post it in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.