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A lesson from American Idol

Posted by Maria Murnane | August 4, 2011

Last week I blogged about the importance of creating a brief, compelling description of your book as you begin your marketing efforts. In addition to your hook, I also recommend creating a longer description – a paragraph or so – that provides a bit more detail.

Just don’t tell me how amazing your book is!

People don’t like to be told what to think. We like to be presented with the facts so that we may form our own opinions from there. If you tell readers how great your book is, why should they believe you? You’re much better off telling them what your book is about and letting other people do the praising for you through reviews or testimonials. That’s called third-party endorsement, and it helps to establish credibility.

To give a few examples, I’m of the mind that the following adjectives should not be a part of your book description:

  • Page-turner
  • Suspenseful
  • Laugh-out-loud
  • Tear-jerker
  • Exquisitely written

It’s perfectly fine for other people like reviewers or fans to use those types of words to describe your book. In fact, it’s great! But if you do it, it can come off as tooting your own horn, and no one likes a braggart (especially one who doesn’t have the goods to back it up). We’ve all seen the American Idol auditions. Yikes.

If you’re still not convinced, pull out today’s newspaper and read the articles on the front page. All you see are facts. Opinions are left to the editorial pages, and the same should apply to your book description. Be engaging without going overboard, and let your readers form their own opinions.

Once the positive reviews start flowing in, you can incorporate them into the description – with attribution. For example, you could begin your description with “Described by (name of publication) as ‘an exquisitely written tear-jerker’ and by (name of other publication) as ‘a possible breakthrough novel of 2011…’”

Now what person who likes tear-jerkers wouldn’t want to read that? :)

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. For more helpful articles and blogs for authors, visit CreateSpace Resources.

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