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Once in a while I consult with authors who want my advice, usually on how to spread the word about their books. Just last week I had a Skype session with a nice man who had that exact question, so as we began the hour I asked him this:

What is your book about?

He couldn't provide a succinct answer.

He said it was a memoir, kind of. Then he said it was divided into four parts of his life. Then he told me about all four of those parts, which took quite a while. I wanted to be engaged but found myself less than enthralled by his disjointed explanation.

Do you see the problem here? Potential readers want to know WHAT YOUR BOOK IS ABOUT, period. If the description doesn't grab their attention right away, they will most likely move on to something else. Shiny penny syndrome.

After the nice man finished telling me about his book, it was clear that one of the "four parts" sounded leaps and bounds more interesting than the other three, so I encouraged him to focus on that one for the description. The other sections might be fantastic in the book itself, but on a surface level they sounded pretty ordinary. A memoir needs to promise something extraordinary, because unless you're famous, no one really cares about your life story.

It's not easy to come up with a compelling description of a book, but it's important. When you reach out to reviewers over email, for example, they will agree to read your book only if they think it will be interesting. Play around with variations and see which one receives the best results. It may take a few tries, but you'll get there!

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

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1,124 Views Tags: self_publishing, books, authors

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