By Bryan Cohen from Amazon Ad School
Creating a 200-word book description from a 60,000-word novel is hard enough. How on Earth can you make it even shorter?! But this is the challenge facing all authors who plan to run paid advertising on the Amazon Ad platform. In most campaigns, you’re forced to fit your advertising copy into 150 characters or fewer. And yes, that includes the spaces!
After writing thousands of ads, my team over at Best Page Forward (BPF) has some suggestions to help you fit a stellar, clickable hook into that teeny, tiny, 150-character box.
1. Avoid Condensing, Try Choosing
The idea of scrunching up your 30-chapter novel into 30 words sounds pretty daunting. Fortunately, you don’t have to condense your book. Instead, you want to choose your Main Conflict first…
And then you can go ahead and create your Ad-Friendly Hook based on that. Here’s how we usually state a novel’s conflict at BPF:
What the protagonist wants. What’s in the protagonist’s way. Life or death consequences of the protagonist not getting what they want.
If you start by expressing your story in these terms, then it’s a lot easier to come up with a short, punchy hook.
2. Go with Archetypes Over Proper Nouns
Every word counts in a 200-word description. Each word has 5x the value in a much shorter piece of ad copy. So much like a 70% off sale…everything must go.
One way to avoid having too many words is to leave out our Proper Nouns like character and setting names. We tend to stick with archetypes over specifics on this front. Instead of “Riley Johnson” we’d stick with “a girl,” “a teen,” or “a sister,” which saves us plenty of space in our hook. This serves a second purpose as well. Since a character’s name doesn’t mean anything to a random book browser…
We actually achieve even more meaning by referring more to the role that character plays in the story. This helps us make more of an immediate impact on our potential book buyer.
3. Trade Down Your Words
Much like publishing a full-length novel…editing is a huge part of copywriting success as well. One of the first steps we take when trying to keep our ad copy short is to trade down the number of words. To do this, we ask the question, “Can we take what we’re saying in 7 words and turn it into 5?”
By busting out the thesaurus and using our novel-writing noggin, we rephrase our copy several times over to find a shorter way of expressing the same idea.
“She was no longer a follower of her shifter pack.” (10 words)
“She’s taken over the pack.” (5 words)
Try writing out your copy 5–10 different ways to find phrasing that says more in fewer words.
4. Less Context, Higher Stakes
Many authors feel the need to explain the world of their book to avoid confusion. Unfortunately, this can make your novel sound like it’s packed with exposition…and it can lead to boring ad copy. We recommend ditching your desire to add context and instead focus on heightening your ad copy’s stakes. By expanding on the “consequences of the protagonist not getting what they want” part of the hook…
You give readers a reason for wanting to buy the book right away. Take these two pieces of copy for instance:
“Her parents never understood her, so she finally ran away from home.” vs. “A runaway looking for freedom. But what she found might just get her killed…”
High stakes are always more interesting than exposition. If you have to explain something, then elaborate on how much trouble the protagonist has gotten themselves into.
5. Practice Makes Pithy
It takes years and hundreds of thousands of words to get better at writing novels. As you deliberately practice your craft, certain aspects become easier over time. It’s exactly the same with copywriting. As you work on your short and sweet ad copy creation, you’ll find it easier to make more powerful ads.
We recommend coming up with 15–20 different versions of your ad each time. This allows you to mix and match the best of the best. And if you repeat the process for each book in your catalog…then eventually, your copy will become shorter, stronger, and far more clickable.
Want to get help selling more books through better Amazon Ads? Join our upcoming 5-Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge, a free community course with tons of support. Click and Register to join the upcoming event: https://bryancohen.lpages.co/jan21