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Ad Copywriting Tips for Authors

Copywriting is a different skill to writing a book, yet essential. Here's how to maximise your ad copy's effectiveness.

If you’ve written a book or are writing one now, chance indicates that you started your project as a labour of love. You enjoy expressing yourself with words. If you’re a fiction author, you might love the prospect of creating a fantasy world or a mystery for riddle lovers to decode. You might relish the idea of squeezing bellows at the fires of romance readers’ hearts. Or, if you write non-fiction, it may be a mission to help people or shed light on an ignored topic that drives you. To change minds and improve lives. A minority start writing books because they’ve heard about its passive income potential, but it’s passion that motivates most of us to begin.

Generally, copywriting for ads is different. Few writers dream of writing ad copy as a kid. Typically, the practice is born out of necessity. Yes, commercial success is an attractive prospect, but writing ad copy for social media posts, sales pages, landing pages and email onboarding sequences isn’t the dream. We write books because we love them and ads because we need them. View writing ad copy as a challenge with tight rules, though, and you can make the process an enjoyable creative exercise. What’s more, master it and your creations can enhance not only your prospects as an author but also your ability to create more ambitious art.

It’s not as difficult as it sounds, either. Using only a handful of simple selling techniques, any author can 80/20 rule their way to writing great copy, selling more books and turning casual readers into die-hard fans. As a business writer, you could use copywriting to develop a simple guidebook into a seven-figure business complete with events and online courses. Or, writing fiction, you could use it to make your work more immersive with auxiliary content. But what are these simple techniques you can use to get started? Find out in today’s article on ad copywriting tips for authors.

Feed a Niche

The first step is the pre-work involved in writing an optimised book. Writing with future ads in mind isn’t necessary but doing so will ease the rest of your copywriting experience. The premise is simple: create a product readers actually want — a book with deep demand and broad appeal. Experts in the publishing community refer to this sweet spot as catering for an “underserved niche” of readers. Ideally, your niche should contain lots of readers and little content. The bigger the gap between the two, the hungrier the niche. Authors who discover extremely hungry niches can sell more easily because the readers have fewer options vying for their attention.

Frame your copywriting voice to address those readers directly if you can. That way, your words will feel tailored specifically to them. On a reader level, this could mean adding a bit of code to your copy to include their name in templated spaces, as is possible when writing newsletters. According to a blog post by MailerLite:

“Using someone’s actual name in the subject line increases email open rates by 26%.”

At an audience level, this could mean writing with your demographic in mind. Say your niche is primarily women in their thirties. Knowing that fact, you might want to pepper in lifestyle references they appreciate. Start with a hungry niche and feed it with tailor-made copy and you will start your copywriting game on easy mode.

Grab Attention

Once you’ve found a hungry niche and framed your content for them, next you need to get their attention. After all, if you can’t direct their eyes, they won’t read your copy at all. A good way to overcome this issue is to use a hook. What intrigues your readers? How could you summarise your work to appeal to their triggers? Consider tropes your readers love, original concepts they’d want to explore, or pain points they’re trying to overcome. Brainstorm with these considerations at the top of your page and you should be able to come up with a few promising hooks. Here are a few examples:

When alcohol makes you invisible to zombies, a bar crawl could save your life.

Tiffy and Leon share a flat. Tiffy and Leon share a bed. Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Transform your life with tiny changes in behaviour, starting now.

Summarising a whole book into a few phrases is tough, but it’s a great way to stop readers skipping over the rest of your copy. Does it feel like you’ve lost the nuance of your work when you boil it to its essence? Yes, but readers are busy people, bombarded with sales copy all day. If you don’t grab their attention, you’ll lose out to TikTok, a house chore or another author. Creating a hook is essential. However, don’t mislead them. If your hook packs a punch then you’d better be able to go twelve rounds or you’ll lose the fight overall. If you want your ad to turn into an experience that wins over readers, keep your promise accurate and ensure you can deliver.

Tell a Story

How do you win over a reader once you have their attention? Many authors think citing stats is the best way:

“Over 200,000 copies sold.”

“300+ five-star reviews.”

“Improve your concentration by 14%.”

Make no mistake, when the average reader visits a book sales page, they look at the cover, scan the reviews and accolades, and read the description. A large part of their decision-making process includes factoring in social proof and performance metrics so it pays to include them. Just don’t let them take over your whole description. Instead, make the primary focus what the product can do for them in a way they can visualise.

Think beyond the stats. Would your reader rather read something that’s sold “over 200,000 copies” or “experience the thriller that has parents abuzz at the school gate”? Likewise, will improving their concentration by 14% inspire them or would they be more excited to “become the person who can focus in a crowded office and never have to work late again”? Will 300+ positive reviews matter if they can’t imagine a bittersweet story that will leave them laughing through tears at the side of a fiction hospital bed? Don’t give them dry information. Place them in a story. Make them the hero. Show them a snapshot of their future with your product book hand.

Consider the Platform

When we write ad copy, it’s helpful to think about where that content is destined to appear. Doing so, you can tailor your work to look like native content. You might think good copy is good copy — that a platform’s conventions shouldn’t impact its success. But that’s not true. You may have seen examples of copy an author has written without considering the platform: Instagram posts auto-fed to Facebook, complete with a square image and a fleet of Insta-centric hashtags. This time-saving behaviour is understandable but few native Facebook users would interact with that copy, knowing that the poster is on Instagram and won’t respond.

Consider a few metrics in advance, however, and you can avoid this fate. For instance, what is your character limit? Does the medium you plan to target use hashtags? Where will it cut off a text preview? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google, email providers — they’re all different. How will the content display on a phone? Does your chosen platform allow buttons or full links? Will it strip images from your copy? If it does, will a plain text version make sense without the images you plan to use? When writing copy, consider all the places you plan to post and create several versions. That way, your words will look native and optimised for each platform.

Close the Deal

A final element that makes great ad copy is a deal closer. This often comes in two parts. The first is to appeal to the readers’ emotions. Remember that story you told them in which they’re the hero? Drive home the moral of that story. Why should they choose what you’re selling? Is the reason social? Will the book give them money? Free time? Happy kids? A dream partner? What about fiction? Will they get a swashbuckling adventure? A flustered train ride so intense they miss their stop? A much-needed laugh? Jab them with an idea of what they’ll get and what they could miss if they choose to pass on your offer.

Once you’ve done that, deliver the knockout punch: tell them what to do next. Marketers refer to this instruction as a call to action, or CTA. Examples include:

“Buy Now”

“Read this heart-stopping adventure today!”

“Click here for more info.”

Being clear and making it a command works best. According to multiple studies by marketing agencies, in certain situations, CTAs can increase conversions by 80%, revenue by 83% and sign-ups by 34%. Also add a sense of urgency to rush readers into making a decision if you can, like so:

“Get it while stocks last.”

“Grab your 50% discount before the end of the day.”

“Pick up Comedy Novel before the hilarious bonus chapter disappears.”

FOMO drives impulse purchases. Could this tactic push away some readers? Yes, but those ones would have been on the fence anyway, looking for a reason to leave. Overall, closing a deal is easier than trying to get a second opportunity.

Today’s article doesn’t cover every copywriting trick, but the ones it does explore will help most authors, including you. Of course, every author has different books and a unique audience so milage may vary. If you want to optimise your ad copywriting skills, the key is to test and measure. Over time, this strategy will improve your results until you can write better tailor-made copy for you brand than even world-class marketers.

Daniel Parsons

Daniel Parsons

Dan Parsons is the bestselling author of multiple series. His Creative Business books for authors and other entrepreneurs contains several international bestsellers. Meanwhile, his fantasy and horror series, published under Daniel Parsons, have topped charts around the world and been used to promote a major Hollywood movie. For more information on writing, networking, and building your creative business, check out all of Dan’s non-fiction books here.