The Importance of Book Descriptions
Last weekend, I spent a very enjoyable time at Bubonicon, an annual Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in Albuquerque. I’ve gone three times now, and it has fun panels, readings, and great food in the con suite.
One of the highlights this year was filling in at my friend Sarena’s table in the dealers’ room. Sarena is the editor for an Albuquerque SciFi/Fantasy publisher called World Weaver Press. I enjoyed meeting new people as they stopped by the table (generally at cons I stand around a lot and talk to people I already know.) I also liked selling books (I sold quite a few) and practicing with Square. I have one, but I haven’t used it much.
Before the con, Sarena asked a few of us from her writing group to fill in for her during the panels she was on and those she was wanting to attend. In exchange, she would have our books available at her table. Six books in my Gobbled series sold, which I was quite happy with. One thing I observed at Sarena’s table really drove home for me the importance of back cover copy.
A few years ago, I changed the cover of the first book in the Gobbled series, Goblin Fruit. A podcast had recommended looking at the books selling well in your genre and using a cover reminiscent of theirs. The function of a book cover (especially in thumbnail size on Amazon) is to broadcast to the reader what kind of book it is, not necessarily to give them any information about your book specifically. Changing covers arguably turned out to be a waste of time and money for me. Sales of the Kindle version did not improve. In fact, at least at first, they declined. However, at the same time I also changed my back-cover copy for the paperback.
Originally the back-cover copy was this:
What if the “drug epidemic” actually WAS an epidemic? What if you could catch an addiction as easily as you catch the stomach flu? What if the drug you wanted more than anything in the world would turn you into a zombie, able to move and eat, but not think? 16-year-old Clara’s mother is a catatonia patient, a.k.a. zombie. So is Audrey’s brother. Together, they’re desperate to find a cure before it’s too late. Their only clues are in the 150 year old poem, “Goblin Market.”
Here’s the new version:
You think a fairy tale is just a story.
What if it hides a message?
All Clarity’s mom ever gave her is the fairy tale story book, Goblin Market.
Her whole life, Clarity has helped care for her mother, a mindless, shuffling shell of a person.
At sixteen, Clarity meets Audrey, a girl filled with grief and guilt over her brother who has been struck with the same affliction.
With nothing but a cryptic clue from Goblin Market, Clarity and Audrey risk their lives to cure the people they love.
Goblin Fruit is a YA paranormal novel featuring fast-paced action, heartbreaking decisions, and two unstoppable heroines.
“Stayed up all night to finish reading this.” --Brianna, Amazon Customer
“An interesting twist on fairy tale creatures. You get hooked on the characters.” --James, Amazon Customer
“Combines compelling characters, dire situations, science and magic...A very enjoyable read.” --Kindle Customer
I brought a few of each version to Bubonicon. Many of the people walking by the table, picked up the book with either cover and read the text on the back. However, with the first text, they all set it down again. With the second text, many of them bought it. Of course, back cover text may not matter so much when selling a book online, but you can use essentially the same description on the book’s page on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, etc.
By the way, which cover image do you like better? I'm thinking of going back to the old cover (while keeping the new text of course.)