If you want people to buy your book, you’ve got to nail the tropes in your book description. Keep reading to learn how.
You’ve done it! You’ve finished writing the perfect mystery. It’s full of fascinating characters, a vile villain, and a great twist at the end. You’ve uploaded it to Amazon and dashed out some ad copy.
Now you wait. And wait. And then you wait some more.
How very odd, no one seems to be snapping up your masterpiece. Is it the cover? No, you’ve matched it well to other books in your chosen genre. Then what?
It could be your blurb.
As odd as it may seem, even if you manage to focus on the character’s state of mind and use powerful words, you might still be missing the mark with your potential readers. It’s time to make sure you’ve included enough of the tropes associated with mysteries (or fantasies, or romances, or thrillers, etc.) that someone scanning through your blurb will instantly know this is the story for them.
Let’s dig into this a bit, using our mystery as an example.
Focus on the Hook
A lure to a remote lodge. A well laid trap. Ten victims in the crosshairs.
Right off the bat, it’s clear someone could mistake this book for a thriller. It lacks references to a crime and someone trying to track down the culprit. The word “crosshairs” brings to mind assassins like you’d find in James Bond or Jack Reacher. It’s in fact intended to be the opening hook for Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. We’ve missed hitting the right tone for a mystery, and the person searching for such an animal might move on. Someone interested in a thriller might pick it up only to be disappointed.
Let’s try again.
Make Your Genre Clear in Your Hook
A mysterious invite to an isolated mansion. A killer lurking among strangers. If they can’t solve a cryptic nursery rhyme, ten will become none.
This is better (albeit a bit clunky). There’s now a reference to something “mysterious.” We’ve established the presence of a killer. And the fact that the characters won’t survive unless they “solve” clues hidden in a child’s riddle indicates a mystery needing to be unraveled.
Quite often, the potential buyer won’t read any farther. This short bit of information will either intrigue them enough to check the “Read Inside” or send them on their way. That’s why it’s imperative to establish the genre firmly in the reader’s mind in those first 150 characters (or less, preferably).
Use the Words Your Readers Expect to See
If you’re writing epic fantasy, focus on the trappings which make up the genre. Reach for words like “magic,” “princesses,” “grand quests,” “dragons,” “wizards,” “rogues,” “fae,” etc.
If there’s a great war going on, you want to make sure it’s clear it’s full of spell slinging and castle sieges. If you leave it at a “battle worn soldier,” it isn’t clear if he’s a foot soldier in WWII, a space marine, or a grizzled commander of a rag tag troupe of misfits stalking an evil wizard.
Communication is Key
What it comes down to is communication. You want your blurb to excite the reader into wanting to pick up your book. But it’s equally important you capture the attention of your intended audience.
Failing to do so might get you a sale, but it won’t get you readthrough, and worse, the dreaded one-star review might show up to drag your rating down.
List Your Tropes
As a last bit of advice, think about the elements making up your story. Create a list of everything in it that is typical for the type of story you’ve written.
Don’t worry about making your work stand out as radically different from what’s come before. People dip again and again into a favorite genre precisely because of the comforting presence of familiar tropes.
Once you’ve made your list, start working on a catchy hook, weaving in a few of those keywords. Then, as you craft the rest of your blurb, sprinkle a few more of those classic details.
Practice and then practice some more.
And if you’re still having a hard time generating sales, we can help. Click here to get our Top 10 Amazon Advertising tips!