From time to time I get emails from other authors announcing their latest book, including one from an author who's been in the novel writing business longer than I have. It included the usual announcement, along with a copy of the book cover, and a book description. However, the description was problematic, to say the least. It was at least five hundred words, if not more, and it described the entire plot. By the time I finished reading it I had no incentive to buy the book because I knew the story from start to finish.
One of my mentors taught me to write descriptions of ten to one hundred words, and nothing longer. Over time I've discovered that for most promotional purposes, a fifty to one hundred word description works nicely. I also write teasers, not plot summaries. The whole idea of a book description is to give a potential reader a general idea of what the story is about, while enticing them to want to read more. In other words, it's ad copy.
I've pasted copies of my descriptions for my Marina Martindale novels, The Journey, and The Stalker as examples of effective teaser descriptions.
Cassie Palmer’s world is shattered when a car crash leaves her hospitalized and fighting for her life. Her husband, Jeremy, begins his own frightening journey when he meets Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar, but while he may no longer remember her, she has neither forgiven nor forgotten how he jilted her, years before. Denise seeks revenge and Jeremy soon vanishes under mysterious circumstances, leaving his grieving wife behind. As Cassie struggles to recover her life will take another strange turn, when an unexpected visitor reveals that things are not as they appear.
Rachel Bennett may have attended her ten-year high school reunion on a whim, but fate intervened once she saw Shane MacLeod. No longer the shy, gawky teenager she remembered, Shane has matured into a handsome and successful man, but her perfect evening ends when another man from her past suddenly reappears. Craig Walker had been her mentor until he became jealous of her talent and success. Now he intends to either have her, or destroy her at all costs. As Rachel’s family pressures her to take Craig to court, she can no longer ignore her nagging feeling that a tragedy is about to strike.