I’m a member of a listserv that includes many professional writers, a good chunk of whom are freelancers looking for work. Recently, someone posted a question asking what everyone in the group is currently doing to pay the bills, and the response was bigger than any I’ve seen. Overnight dozens and dozens of people replied, and after scrolling through the bulk of the messages, I was surprised at how few gave a concise, compelling description that would make me want to hire them. The majority of them went on and on (and on) for several paragraphs, included a lot of detail and personal information that didn’t seem relevant, and never seemed to get to the POINT.
The ones that grabbed me were short.
And just a few sentences long.
My personal reaction to the long-winded replies (i.e., a lot of skimming) got me thinking about book marketing and how important it is to have a brief description of your work. If someone asks you for a detailed, two-page summary of your book, that’s great. But most people just want the basics. People are BUSY, and if this is their first interaction with you (think book club moderator or first-time visitor to your website) you need to grab their attention quickly before they lose interest and move on to something else.
I think it’s a good idea to have three descriptions of you book: a one-liner, one that is about a paragraph long, and one that is several paragraphs. Then, you can use whichever is appropriate for the situation. If the moderator of a book club asks “what’s your book about?” and you send over a detailed, two-page summary, that might be a bit much, right?
Going back to the example of the freelancer writers on the listserv, if I were looking to hire one of them, I would probably contact one who had provided a brief, compelling description – then ask for more detail. When you’re reaching out to busy strangers, sometimes less is more.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2015 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.