10 things that are best left out of a book’s description

Cigarette butts

You need something to pay for that habit

You’ve uploaded your novel and now you need to write its description – the bit of text which (historically) your publisher would have added to your book’s back cover in order to entice readers to buy it. But, hey, you’re a self-publisher so you get to do that yourself, too.

Assuming you actually want to make some sales, here’s a list of 10 things not to do:

Copy text from your book

The easy option – just copy a chunk of the book. Trouble is anyone can just ‘look within’ so what’s this adding? Nothing.

Use your existing reviews

Well, you’re lucky to have some good ones. Chances are, they’re still the copyright of the review’s author. By including them, you’re in breach of copyright. Yikes!

Give it some hyperbole

You think your book’s the best, the greatest, la crème de la crème, don’t you? Trouble is, so does every other author about their own work. Just give your readers the facts and let them decide.

Rubbish another author

Of course your book’s better than X’s (and it probably is). Saying so, though, just makes you look tacky (at best) and (at worst) starts a libel suite. Don’t do it unless you’re into researching for a courtroom drama.


You’re a poor writer stuck in your freezing garret with no cash to fund your nicotine and alcohol addictions, aren’t you? As a result, you desperately need money from book sales – just hold that thought, don’t share it.

Spend time writing it

Just let the book sell itself, eh? Well, that’s like banking on catching Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster and then following on with a spot of luncheon with E.T., all on the same day – a lost cause in other words, so make the effort!


What’s wrong with everyone? Why can’t they SEE HOW GOOD YOUR BOOK IS? ‘Shouting’ just gives people eyestrain and eyestrain means they’ll be too tired to read what you’ve got to say. Get the point?


Stretching the truth a bit is one thing but fibbing is another. Claim your book is something it isn’t and you’ll get lots of returns, stinking reviews and plenty of original content for your ‘Hate Mail’ folder. Leave the fiction to the book’s contents – don’t put it in the description.


There’s never been a book that was all things to everyone so it’s a pretty safe bet that yours won’t be either. Unless you just want to look silly, aim for a target market and make sure that you hit it.


You can’t believe it – there’s some recluse out there who’s never heard of you. Where have they been? What’s wrong with them? These are questions best kept to the confines of your own cranial cavity.

Your book description will be the first thing your customers read and it may well be their last. Take care over it in the same way as you would if you were sending out RSVP invitations to an important function you were hosting.

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