Monday, April 20, 2009

Bullet Points: Getting Started

Part Two--Why Bullet Points Work ... 3 Tips for Writing Them ... Do's and Don'ts

By Susan Kendrick

(This is the second of four installments on writing bullet points for your book marketing copy. To see all the parts in this series, go to following posts:)

Part One -- "Get Noticed Fast"
Part Three -- "Examples from Bestselling Books"
Part Four -- "30 Power Verbs to Get You Started"

Why Bullet Points Work

There’s never any guarantee that people will read all of your book marketing copy, or read it from top to bottom. They may look at your headline, your endorsements, your call-to-action, or your bio. But, bullet points, because they stand out from everything around them, tend to pull people in first.

Exposure to decades of advertising copy—in print ads, on TV, online—has conditioned consumers to react to bullet points this way. That’s where they expect to find the real reason to buy a product or service and what they will get out of it. Capitalize on their expectations!

Make your bullets tight, punchy statements that instantly bring out the benefits of your book to the reader. Note, this is not about all the great things you and your book have to offer—the features of the book. It’s about describing those features as mouth-watering, benefit-rich, sound bites.

One disclaimer: Not every book needs bullet points. Using or not using them depends on what kind of copy is going to work best to attract your target audience. A gift book for new mothers, for example, may deserve more of a narrative style, a “dialogue” with the reader. But, most non-fiction books will get exponential marketing power with a few well-crafted bullet points.

3 Tips for Writing Powerful Bullet Points

Anyone who sees your sales copy—either in print or online—will only spend about 15 seconds reading it. Your main selling points have to pop and be highly visible, almost at a glance. So bullet points, too, must be kept short and to the point. Here are three tips to get you started:

1. How Many? Use about 5 to 7 bullet points total. You can use less, but do not use more or they lose their at-a-glance appeal.

2. Keep Them Short! Remember, you want to make these points an inviting and easy-to-read part of your book marketing copy. Keep them concise by avoiding excess description or “flowery” copy.

3. The WHAT More Than the HOW … People are more interested in what your book will do for them than how it will do it, at least initially. Give them the benefits and do it fast. You can explain how this happens later, or inside the book.

Plus ... A Couple of Do's and Don'ts:

* DON'T use any punctuation at the end of your bullet points. You do not need a comma, period, or semicolon at the end as a break between bullet points. Only use a period if the bullet point is more than one sentence (like this one ...). For book marketing copy, your bullet points will be short (see next point!).

* DO try to keep bullet points on one line if possible, or no more than one and a half to two lines, max. Remember, at-a-glance visibility is key here, especially when bullet points are included in quick-read book marketing copy like your book's back cover copy or on your website.

* DO start each bullet point with an active verb. (See the list included in the third and final post in this series, tomorrow.)

Free Book Cover Timeline

Have your started your book cover, or are you in the middle of that process right now? Please download our Free "Book Cover Timeline." It's a great way to keep the entire book cover process on track and running smoothly. Learn what to do ... when to do it ... and how long each step should or can take. Go to

Have questions about your book marketing copy? Email us at

Happy Publishing!

© Copyright 2009, Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved., 1-715-634-4120.

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