Much has been written about copywriting, and yet many self publishers dread the notion of writing the sales copy for their book’s Web site. A book Web site is designed to explain why anyone would want to buy and read your book, so it’s not that different from other sites or Web pages designed to sell something. Here are a few tips for writing copy about your book, whether you plan to use it online or offline.
1. Figure out who your audience is. Ideally, you will have actually determined this before you wrote the book. If not, now is the time. If you’re answer is “everyone needs this book!” try again. You can’t write sales copy if you don’t know who your audience is. Consider envisioning your ideal purchaser and then write the copy as if you were talking to that one individual. For example if you’ve written a cookbook for time-strapped moms, your sample persona might be: “Florence is a 30-year old stay-at-home mom. Her household income is $60,000 year and she has two kids. She’s interested in health and cooking, but doesn’t have much time. Florence likes recipes that she can make ahead of time and quick ideas for kid-friendly snacks and fun sandwiches she can put in the kids’ lunchboxes.
2. Create a compelling headline your target audience understands. Use your customer’s language and avoid jargon. The headline doesn’t have to be cute or funny. It just needs to be interesting. For example, the headline for my Funds to the Rescue book Web site says simply, “Raise Funds for Pets: 101 Ideas That Work!” It gets the idea across.
3. Include a clear description of the book. Oddly enough, many book Web sites don’t indicate if the book is really a physical book, ebook, or even an audio book. Be extremely clear on what you are offering and be sure to include details like shipping costs.
4. Explain the benefits of reading the book. With countless books on every conceivable topic, why would anyone want to read yours? What makes it different and/or special compared to other books on the topic? One of the classic “rules” of copywriting is that you need to focus on benefits. One way to identify benefits is to ask “so what?” every time you think of a reason to read the book. For example, in the case of my fundraising book one obvious aspect is that the book has 101 ideas. So what? You’ll never run out of ideas for raising money. You’ll never look at your bank balance and wonder how you’ll keep the doors open. And so on. Benefits are emotionally satisfying solutions to problems.
5. Add social proof. People are more likely to buy something if there is some type of third-party endorsement. This “social proof” may be in the form of testimonials, media mentions, or your own background. If you have a PhD, appeared on Oprah, or people have good things to say about your book, include it in your copy.
6. Insert a call to action. After you have expounded on why the book is great, at some point you do need to simply say, “buy the book.” Many copywriters also suggest offering a guarantee and responding to people worries and objections to help tip the scales toward purchasing (and away from “never mind”).
As you can see, copywriting is about what, who, and why. Explain what the book is about, who should read it, and why they should buy it, and you’re done!