Caoimhe O’Brien

A weekly column by digital book marketer, Caoimhe O’Brien.

This week we have been re-writing some of Orna’s blurbs for her fiction books. Blurbs are so important to get right as they are one of the first thing that a reader sees when they look at your book on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks…

The best blurbs are easy to read, genre appropriate, and grab a reader’s attention right away.

You should always be conscious of what appears above the Read More button (see below), as you want to ensure that the reader is enticed to click through and read to the end.

Design

As well as the content of the blurb, Amazon, in particular, allows authors and publishers great scope in designing their blurbs to be eye-catching, exciting and unique.

Some basic html can really go a long way to setting your blurb apart from the average one and it can definitely grab a reader’s attention quickly. It may seem tricky at first but it is simple, easy to learn and worth it in the long run.

Here is a list of KDP approved html that you can use to liven your blurbs.

If you’re not too confident with html, Dave Chesson and Kindleprenuer have created a helpful tool which is free to use.

One really important place to use html is CreateSpace. Unlike KDP, hitting the return key doesn’t space out your description and it ends up bunched together — looking very unprofessional and hard to read. Simply adding <br><br> at the end of each paragraph breaks up the blurb and makes it look so much nicer and easier to read.

First Line

You can use html to make the first line of the blurb (the one above the Read More click, the one every visitor to your page sees) bolder and larger to make it stand out on the busy Amazon sales page.

Really put a lot of thought into this first line as you are depending on it to entice the reader and really make them consider buying your book.

Here are some examples I love: Follow You by Richard Parker, Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler and Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham.

When Orna originally wrote her book descriptions, she was thinking like a trade publisher, writing a back-of-the-book blurb for a print book.

Take, for example, her first novel, After The Rising. We have improved her blurb a bit, so here’s her first line now:

When Jo Devereux returns to Ireland for her mother’s funeral, the last person she expects to meet there is Rory O’Donovan.

The secrets and silences between Jo’s family and Rory’s was the one constant of their childhood — and erupted into bitter conflict when they fell in love.

And here is the rest of the description:

Now, 20 years on, Jo is back in village where they both grew up and he’s urging her to stay on.

To her own surprise, she’s tempted. Is it because her life in San Francisco is such a disaster since her friend Richard died? Because she wants to rekindle the relationship with her mother gone? Or because she wants to know the truth about the past?

Soon Jo is uncovering astonishing truths about her mother and grandmother and women’s role in the conflict known as “The War of The Brothers”. And about a killing with consequences that have ricocheted through four generations.

Rory, mired in an unhappy marriage, is urging her to rebel again — but reading their family histories has made Jo cautious. Rebellion has an energy that sweeps people up but what happens after the rising?

Jo is about to find out.

After the Rising is a compelling literary mystery. It is the first novel in The Irish Trilogy.

We have used up the rest of the word quota with reviews, for now. This is an improvement, but it’s still not there. We will work on this some more next week.

Descriptions and Keywords

We’ve also worked in some keywords into the description. Amazon and search engines such as Google pick up on keywords in your blurb and boost it higher up in the search results.

Blurbs of 500 words or over are picked up more easily by search engines — so this is a good word count to aim for. Use up your full quota of words.

You should make sure that your blurb contains plenty of keywords and phrases that you think readers would use when they are looking for a book like yours.

Start by typing search terms into Amazon, what you think a reader would type when searching, Now see what suggestions Amazon makes.

These are the search terms that people use most often. Using them will help to get your book noticed among its many competitors.

Keywords will also be important when it comes to doing some paid advertising for the books. It will be important that the ads and the books’ pages align.

We’re also going to change the covers on these books, as they have become outdated and don’t really match their genre.

First, though, we’re going to see what difference it makes to have made these first small changes. One thing at a time, so we can monitor it and report back to you.

Next week, we’ll talk more about descriptions and keywords and I’ll show you the revised blurb we did for After The Rising & Before The Fall.