SFFMP 84: Creating Better Book Descriptions (Blurbs) to Improve Your Sales with Bryan Cohen

This week, we’re talking with Bryan Cohen, who first appeared on our show in episode 15 (YouTube Marketing, Facebook Events, and Increasing Mailing List Sign-Ups). He’s since started a book description/blurb writing service, Best Page Forward, for authors who would like to hand the task to someone else, and he also teaches blurb-writing techniques at Selling For Authors.

Here’s what we talked about:

  • Bryan got to the point where he was hitting a struggling point. He had been doing copywriting for various sites as well as some ghost copywriting. He was doing well with the copywriting, but it wasn’t until someone in his Mastermind group suggested that he do copywriting for authors — Bryan got going right away!
  • Once Bryan announced his service he had over one hundred orders for book descriptions in a month. This was obviously something people wanted.
  • Since there was such big interest in copywriting, Bryan set up coaching and classes to help authors do their copywriting.
  • Youtube videos can be difficult when you don’t have a process, as Bryan found out when he tried to do a video a day (he did 30). He thinks it was a good experience but it was a lot of work and didn’t really fit his brand.
  • Bryan doesn’t think that most writing-related things are doing well on Youtube. However, teaching and longer-style fiction (like Welcome to the Night Vale) does well. And John Green, of course.
  • While it’s hard to make a splash in Youtube, it is something that is possible and certainly someone can build a platform on Youtube and carry it into publishing books.
  • Bryan is planning on working with Chris Fox to help authors speed up their production speeds.
  • After Chris’s successes, Bryan picked Chris’s brain and tried to find a good genre that he would enjoy. If someone just writes for the numbers then they won’t be able to stick around long.
  • He is now working on a fairy tale retelling series that is a bit of a medieval, a little urban fantasy. He is working to be able to launch with a ten day spike.
  • Bryan agreed that it is not always necessary to write to market, but did add that it can be helpful to try it if you’re struggling or haven’t been able to get traction.
  • Bryan is planning on doing a balance between non-fiction and fiction since he spends time in both areas and fit it to where he has been building. He has things coming from non-fiction and fiction.
  • He is tempted to re-release his Ted books, even at the loss of many reviews, in order to release it into KU and get a large initial boost. Along with now having a large social media presence and understanding advertisements, Bryan thinks that it would be a great way to get re-started.
  • When it comes to doing audiobooks, make sure that it is ‘credit worthy’–So that someone feels like using their Audible credit feels that they are getting a good value.
  • When Bryan writes a blurb, he first asks questions. Some include–What is your blurb like now? What is your summary?
  • Bryan does not care if people credit him for the blurb.
  •  These are Bryan’s steps for copywriting.
    • The Headline– A short statement, a hook, that grabs a reader’s attention.
    •  Synopsis–Bryan suggests having the hook ahead of that. You want to establish an emotional connection between the reader and the character. “A character who…” and something that a reader can relate to. If the reader cares about the person then they are more likely to connect to the plot in the summary. Make sure that you end the synopsis on a cliffhanger sort of way to make them want to buy the book.
    • Selling Paragraph–Break down reader barriers to read your book. Include things like “Tentacle Love is the first book in a new sci-fi romance series” followed by adjectives to describe the book that people who read your genre should like.
    • Call to Action–Make sure that you have a ‘Call to Action’ that tells them what to do–“Buy this now!”
  •  When trying to hook a reader, it can be difficult to know what to go into without revealing a big twist. Bryan suggests that you only go into information that is revealed in the first half of the book but hint at what will be coming.
  • Don’t go into too many subplots and name only one or two characters. You don’t need to name the villain.
  • Fantasy authors sometimes have a difficult job writing a summary when the book takes place in a different world. Introductory statements like “When he travels to a far off moon…” followed by more emotional stuff to connect the reader to the character can help build the world without bogging down the reader.
  • Some writers create stories with many PoV characters. It can be best if you have one character that you ‘hang your hat on.’
  • Since Amazon now hides the blurb unless someone clicks, the headline can be very important to get someone to click to read more.
  • You often must be more vague when you are writing the summaries of books that have progressed through part of a series. Sometimes you can still do a concise summary, but don’t be afraid to have to go vague.
  • It’s important to highlight the placement in the series in the selling description.
  • One of the biggest mistakes people can make is focusing too much on keywords. Amazon does not index Kindle book descriptions–They index your keywords, title, subtitle. However, Google does.
  • See his page for info on his pricing.

Lastly, check out Bryan’s Ted Saves the World and Writing Prompts books on Amazon and other stores.


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