Is Your Book Description Killing Sales? By Angela Hoy

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It happened again today. I asked an author for a short description of her book for Ingram, the world’s largest book distributor, which sends an automated feed to the online and physical bookstores. The feed is used to create book listings on sites like Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and other stores. The author responded right away. This was last line of her description:

Read on as justice is served and police take down the vicious killer.

Yep. She gave away the ending. Who wants to buy a book if you already know what’s going to happen? Giving away the ending will definitely hurt future book sales!

Unfortunately, we see this type of error from new authors ALL the time and, of course, we go back to the author, and request a spoiler-free description before we put the information into Ingram’s system.

Many self-publishing service companies will not give authors advice in this area. In fact, many don’t read the descriptions at all, which is quite evident from the ones appearing on Amazon and other sites that are laden with errors.

Book covers and book descriptions (whether written by the author, the publisher, the press, or even quotes from readers and reviewers) are what sell books. Allowing a book description to fall flat, or give away the ending, can be a death sentence for book sales. Allowing a book description (or, horrors, a cover!) to appear on the world’s largest online bookstore, Amazon.com, with punctuation and capitalization errors will naturally make potential readers doubt the quality of the book itself.

Let’s look at some (in my opinion, of course) bad book descriptions appearing on Amazon.com. After publication of this article, some of these publishers may correct these errors but I bet most won’t bother to do so.

AUTHORHOUSE

I looked at three AuthorHouse books on Amazon (and only three – these are the first ones I clicked on) and they all had description problems.

BOOK DESCRIPTION FAILS TO MENTION THIS IS NOT “THE” BEST SELLING AUTHOR JAMES PATTERSON. IT’S SOME OTHER GUY. There are negative review from angry readers, of course.
“I FEEL CHEATED” – Amazon reviewer L. Parkis

TYPOS IN BOOK DESCRIPTION
“She recieves (sic) a mysterious letter telling her that she alone must come to Scotland to rennovate (sic) a castle which is now in ruins.”

MISUSE OF WORD IN THIRD SENTENCE OF DESCRIPTION
“It is you who hold (sic) the power to decide yourself back onto the path you intended…”

In all of these cases, the publisher’s employee who was submitting the descriptions to Ingram (or, when applicable, Amazon directly) should have caught these errors.

Here are more…

XLIBRIS

THIS ONE HAS AN UNCAPITALIZED WORD IN THE TITLE AND THERE IS NO DESCRIPTION ON AMAZON AT ALL!
Air conditioning and Refrigeration Repair Made Easy: Complete Troubleshooting Charts And Repair Guides For Commercial

MISSING CAPITAL LETTER IN TITLE
The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for living with Postpartum Depression

NO DESCRIPTION AT ALL FOR THESE AND THE FIRST ONE HAS A CAPITALIZATION ERROR IN THE TITLE

We made ’em Look Good

The Cleansing of Susquehanna

Report Writing: A Survival Guide

IUNIVERSE

NUMEROUS FORMATTING ERRORS IN THE DESCRIPTION (THERE ARE VERY SIMPLE WAYS TO AVOID THESE ERRORS!)
“This book explains and addresses:How to choose an attorneyHow to impeach court expertsHow to gather evidenceHow to expose a personality disorderHow to investigate your case”

DESCRIPTION IS DEVOID OF APOSTROPHES!
“Joseph Cottens (sic) story begins in Tidewater, Virginia, moves on to an episode as a Miami potato salad tycoon and then brings us to his first big break as an actor, in the New York theatre. Cotten describes how he met the flamboyant Orson Welles- at a radio audition at which Welles set a wastepaper basket on fire- and their involvement with the Mercury theatre. This led to Cottens (sic) first film role, as Orsons (sic) co-star in Citizen Kane, quickly followed by parts in The Magnificent Ambersons and The Third Man. Orson- perhaps the only man to use Churchill as a stooge while trying to set up a film deal- was a lifelong friend of Cottens (sic)…”

NUMEROUS FORMATTING ERRORS (AGAIN, THERE ARE SIMPLE WAYS TO AVOID THESE TYPES OF ERRORS IN THE DATABASES!)
“Are you…..a people pleaser?addicted to dysfunctional love relationships?preoccupied with meeting the needs of others?hooked into feeling good by pleasing someone else?blame yourself when things go wrong?feel your self sacrifices are not appreciated?have trouble accepting love?”

CREATESPACE (owned by Amazon)

You’d think Amazon’s own employees would care enough to get these right…

TYPO IN DESCRIPTION
“The magic system is simple, just as it would be in his games and he learns through some trial an (sic) error what works and how…”

CAPITALIZATION ERROR IN TITLE
“The Old Man And The sea”

BASED ON SEVERAL ONE-STAR REVIEWS, IT APPEARS THIS BOOK’S DESCRIPTION ISN’T CORRECT
“This book was of no value to me at all. All about hydroponic gardening, not 4 ft gardening.”

LULU

MISSING PUNCTUATION IN TITLE AND ON COVER!
The Crazy Cooks (sic) Book of Tried & True Recipes
One reviewer writes: “The editing is atrocious; it’s like a very rough, poorly written draft.”

CAPITALIZATION AND PUNCTUATION ERRORS IN DESCRIPTION
“find a familiar to hang out with, to keep you safe and to point out a path – here is a magikal place to visit – some fun magik to try – beings, materials and activities to challenge your creativity”

UM, WHAT?
“But, in no disrespect to the stability of the Athenian’s style of government, I believe that the true path to our future lies in a time where people are free and equal in their voting power… where, regardless of race, creed, or social class, any issue that one may be affected by him or her may vote upon after being made well aware of all potential outcomes of legislation and the costs involved that must be paid for by the voting constituents.”

OUTSKIRTS PRESS

 

MISSING PUNCTUATION
“Sunday Morning Stick Up What your Pastor doesn’t want you to know about tithes A Must Read for anyone who pays 10% tithes or gives money to a Leader, Pastor, Charity, Non-Profit Organization or Church There is an undertow of frustration finely hidden beneath the delicate fabric of today’s Christian experience.”

INFINITY PUBLISHING

NO DESCRIPTION AT ALL – JUST THE TITLE

MISSING APOSTROPHE IN TITLE, AND ON THE COVER!
“Grandmothers Whisper”

In you find errors in your book’s title or description on Amazon, you should immediately demand your publisher have those errors fixed in Ingram’s system. For books only appearing on Amazon (as with some CreateSpace books), demand those errors get fixed in all of Amazon’s systems. Errors in a book’s title, description, and especially on the cover can and will hurt book sales, and can damage or even ruin your reputation as an author.

Publishers who allow these types of errors on the world’s largest online bookstore, and who then refuse to correct those errors, should be avoided at all costs. If minimum wage employees or overseas workers (which many of these firms employ) miss an error, that’s one thing. However, allowing it to remain online, sometimes for years, is quite another. If they don’t care enough about quality to ensure their authors’ book listings are presented in a professional and accurate fashion, how can they claim to care about your book’s sales?



About The Author

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Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.

BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."

Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.

PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!

Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.

Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)

See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.

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