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Metadata Minute (Issue #5):
How to Write Better Book Descriptions

The Metadata Minute is your monthly guide to boosting book sales and visibility by mastering metadata elements! Whether you’re an author, publisher, marketer, or industry enthusiast, “Metadata Minute” has something to offer everyone.

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  • Insights from industry experts
  • Tips and techniques to perfect your metadata for backlist & frontlist titles
  • The latest industry trends in metadata practices, ensuring you’re always one step ahead
  • Case studies proving the power of metadata transformations

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Many consumers claim the description of a book is the main reason behind their decision to purchase, as opposed to the front cover, price, or awards received. Therefore, writing better book descriptions should always be on your list of goals. Our main advice: think bigger.

Books with longer descriptions show significantly higher sales than those with shorter descriptions. Specifically, your book description should be AT LEAST 200 words, ideally between 200 and 500, with no more than 4,000 characters. Now, some say the sweet spot is less than that due to the modern person’s lack of attention span (which isn’t necessarily wrong); however, research finds that titles with longer descriptions receive as much as 144% higher sales.

The goal is not to fill up 500 words simply talking about the plot of the book, but rather to provide a variety of information to catch a reader’s eye. For example:

  • Your eye is drawn to read this bullet point, right?
  • That’s because it visually breaks this text up with a short, easier-to-read sentence.
  • The same idea applies to book description metadata.

Clever formatting is incredibly important when displaying descriptive copy on retail sites. Break up your content with bulleted or numbered lists to draw those eyes, and be sure to utilize bold and italics to emphasize important information. Be careful not to go overboard, though, or it will be too visually chaotic to read.

Now, once you have their attention, you have to keep it, right? Well written content will obviously be in your favor here, with enticing hooks and intriguing calls to action. However, showcasing credibility and including a variety of content are just as crucial. Here are some additions we recommend you include in your book descriptions, all of which can easily help you reach that desired 200-500 word count.

Awards and Recognition: Has your book won an award or become a bestseller? Has the author themselves won an award? Has the author written a different book that won an award or became a bestseller? Consider including this information in your description.

Relative Titles: Does your book have a sequel or is it part of a series? Has the author written other titles that viewers might be interested in? Consider referencing those as well (although, avoid hyperlinks). If your title is similar in genre or style to other well-known works, whether books, authors, or even movies and television shows, finding creative ways to share those comparisons with consumers can be helpful. Just be sure that the book is, in fact, similar and avoid just naming the world’s best selling titles.

Reviews and Testimonials: If your book has received reviews or testimonials, especially by well-known authors, influencers, or organizations, it can be helpful to sneak in snippets of those reviews into the description. If your book or author is new, include quotes from readers! Our sister company, NetGalley, is a great source for early feedback about new titles. Positive feedback from trustworthy sources will increase your book’s credibility and a consumer’s likelihood to purchase.

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