How to Write Ad Copy for Authors: Softening Your Book Ads by Willow Woodford

How to Write Ad Copy for Authors: Softening Your Book Ads by Willow WoodfordLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Willow Woodford as she shares with us: “How to Write Ad Copy for Authors: Softening Your Book Ads.” Enjoy!


Asking people to buy your book is often cited as the most difficult part of marketing by authors. It’s understandable.

We painstakingly place letters on the page, hoping someone will enjoy reading them, and then we must ASK people not only to read them, but to pay us for the pleasure of reading them.

Sometimes marketing is perceived as a demand, and sometimes it’s played out that way.

I don’t think marketing has to be pushy.

dirty hands

Photo by Jesse Orrico on Unsplash

I believe we can genuinely market our work, offering potential readers an opportunity to purchase our book and benefit from it without being obnoxious and annoying.

Marketing is daunting, but it doesn’t have to leave us feeling like we need to wash our hands.

Of course, I’m no expert.

We Are Not AloneThe only published book I have under my belt is a charity anthology, but I did have to market it and I found simply advertising it didn’t do much to sell it. Especially to people who didn’t know me, or one of my authors in it.

Softened Book Ad Copy

What did sell was the softened ad copy I wrote for it occasionally. Admittedly I didn’t do this enough.

When the book was published, I had a lot on my plate and I didn’t plan enough time for it, and though I’ve promised myself I’ll get back to it, I currently don’t make the time. It’s on the “to-do” list.

When we’re washing towels, we add fabric softener to our wash so they will be gentle against our skin.

What if we could do the same with our ad copy? 

I’ve gathered up some great ideas for softening your ad copy and adjusted it to suit our authorly needs. I hope you find it as helpful as I have in understanding how to market my books.

Tips to Soften Your Book Ads Copy

I decided to search for “marketing”, instead of “marketing for authors” and found myself at Word Stream: Online Advertising Made Easy.

As I expected, their focus isn’t books, but much of the advice I read in “4 simple but powerful tactics for writing compelling ad copy” by Khalid Saleh could easily be applied to book marketing with a little creativity.

Khalid offered four great points to plan your marketing. They all spring from fulfilling a need in your potential customer or reader.

You can win a reader without asking them to spend a penny by showing them how your book will:


  • solve a problem for them
  • give them emotional fulfillment
  • benefit them, and 
  • by telling them what they’ll miss out on if they don’t read it. 



I’m going to use his advice and my anthology as an example. My ad copy will be indented and italicized.

My anthology is titled “We Are Not Alone,” and is a collection of poems, short stories, and letters that focus on living with mental health issues. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to NAMI, The National Alliance for Mental Illness.

Let’s see how I do. 

Solve A Problem: Reasons They Need My Book

I’ll begin by focusing on the reason they need my book. In the case of my anthology maybe they just want a fun way to support a good cause.

In the case of a genre novel, you can get a little more creative.

Is it summer, will they be spending time on vacation or at the beach? Don’t they want a book to fill those quiet hours?

Is it wintertime? Is your book the perfect length to fill a long weekend?

Consider how long it would take to read your book, or the mood it will create as they read it.

Is it about vampires? Maybe it’s a good choice in the fall to ready them for the Halloween season?

Is it a SciFi romance, or mystery? 

How can you relate your characters, world or plot to a current event, or season so they’ll crave it?

Are you looking for a satisfying and inexpensive way to support a good cause? Check out “We Are Not Alone.” A collection of poems, letters and short stories that will warm your heart, 100% of the proceeds will benefit the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the largest grass-roots organization working to help American’s living with mental health issues. At $9.99 for the paperback, complete with blank pages for your own thoughts, and $2.99 for the e-book, it’s a great way to support a good cause! 

Emotional Fulfillment

Next I’ll consider the emotional fulfillment my book will give them. 

My anthology focuses on mental health issues such as depression, ADD and suicide.

Perhaps a potential reader wants to understand a loved one who is living with one of those issues.

Perhaps my potential reader is the person living with them and wants to know they’re not alone.

If your book is genre fiction you can ask the same questions.

  • Is it a romance that will leave them wanting to plan date nights?
  • Is it a mystery that will bring them back to the days they discovered Sherlock Holmes?
  • Is it a SciFi that will reignite their love of a classic?
    1. “We Are Not Alone” offers you a peek inside their world, the thoughts and emotions they struggle with, and the pain they carry.
    2. If you live with mental health issues or have a loved one who is living with them “We Are Not Alone” offers you a glimpse inside the struggle. It will help you better understand your loved one or reassure you that you are not alone in your suffering. 

Benefits from Reading My Book

Then I will tell them how it will benefit them to read my book.

When they purchase my book, they can feel good they supported a worthy cause, because 100% of the proceeds go to NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness).

I also might deepen their understanding of living with mental health issues or help them process something they’ve experienced.

Genre fiction isn’t much different. 

  • Will your book fill the long dark hours during a snowstorm?
  • Will it pass the time your reader spends on the beach?
  • Will your reader meet and possibly fall in love with new characters and a new world they didn’t know they needed?

Either way your book offers your potential reader hours of entertainment, be it amusement, passion, or spine-tingling fear. Tell them how your book will fill their needs!

In my opinion, this approach bundles the previous approaches into one, though, depending on your books genre that might change.

I decided to use a review as a way of showing my potential reader how someone else benefited from my book.

One reviewer called this a “poignant, hopeful, and sad collection,” and another said it would “show you that no matter how far into that deep, dark hole you are in there is light waiting for you.” Let yourself be encouraged, not only that you aren’t alone in living with mental illness but that there is hope and healing waiting for you. “We Are Not Alone” offers you all of this and the peace of mind knowing you’ve supported a great organization. 

Creating A Sense of Scarcity About Your Book

Khalid’s final point is to create a sense of scarcity about your product. 

In the case of my anthology I will mention there aren’t many charity anthologies that deal with mental health issues.

And if I’m running a sale, I’ll offer them the chance to get it at a reduced price, maybe suggesting they can buy one for a friend because of the lower price.

With a genre fiction book, you can make sure your potential reader knows what books yours compares to.

People who loved <insert book or series here> will love <insert your book title here>.

If you’ve gotten reviews that compare you to a well-read book or series, then use that in your copy!

Potential readers and fans won’t know they’ll love you until they discover you. 

If you’re having a sale, make sure they know they’ll miss out on the sale price if they don’t make a decision in time.

I’ll often make a choice to buy a book when it’s on sale just in case I decide to read it.

  1. “We Are Not Alone” gives 100% of its proceeds to charity. It’s a rare opportunity to encourage yourself and support a great cause.
  2. This is your chance to support “We Are Not Alone” while it’s half-price. Even better, your sale will be matched by <insert donor here> up to 50 sales if you purchase before <insert date here>. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to support a great cause.

Khalid’s suggestions were very helpful. They add up to great ad copy that’s soft enough you don’t have to feel like you’re shoving your work at potential readers and begging them to buy it.

Selling your books doesn’t have to make you feel like you’re demanding people pay you for the words you’ve inked.

In fact, the best sales, the ones who will return for more, don’t usually come from demands or begging.

They come from readers who have read a great story that gives them what they are looking for: a good read, characters and worlds they love, and variety in the genres they already love.


Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

This post was a huge learning experience for me, and I’m sure my ad copy is mediocre at best, but I definitely have a better idea of how to write it.

  • What do you think of my examples?
  • How could you use these suggestions to write some soft ad copy for your own book?

Tell me in the comments!

My final thought about using these ideas to soften your sales copy and sell more books is this.

People don’t know what they don’t know. That is to say, they don’t know they’re missing out on a great book if they don’t know it exists.

And just posting buy links or telling people to buy your book without telling them how it will help them might not get them to click that buy button.

Let them know how much they’ll love your work so they can discover their next favorite author!


“4 Simple but Powerful Tactics for Writing Compelling Ad Copy”

We Are Not Alone: An Anthology for Mental Health Awareness by Ann W. Shannon



Willow WoodfordWillow Woodford lives in her imagination, because it’s more interesting than the real world. When she isn’t dreaming up new stories, she likes to cook, hike, and cuddle with her chihuahua. She reads voraciously, staying up far too late, and reading anywhere she can; including grocery lines, parking lots, and waiting rooms. Chat and follow Willow on Twitter: and on Medium:

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