When you’re browsing for a book and a cover catches your eye, you probably click on it to be taken to the product page. And once you’re there, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like most people, you read the book description to determine whether or not the book is something you want to buy.
And what happens next all depends on how the author constructed that description. Here are the two possible scenarios:
- Scenario A: You are taken in by the first sentence of the description, and by the end of the first paragraph, you know you’re going to buy the book. But you keep reading because it’s so interesting you can’t stop. You may or may not check out the reviews, but even if you do, you click the buy button unless the book has received a bunch of 1 and 2-star reviews.
- Scenario B: You’re excited to read the description because the cover piqued your interest, but when you begin reading, you quickly become bored. Either you can’t figure out exactly what the book is about, or the description is so boring, you’re afraid the book will be the same. You become interested in the “also boughts” or sponsored ads, and leave the page to find something else.
Let me guess—you’d prefer that the people who visit your page to fall into the scenario A category, right? Well, for that to happen, you’ve got to write a killer book description.
Now, I know that many authors freeze when thinking about writing a description for their book, and the main reason for that is they can’t imagine condensing an entire book into a few hundred words. After all, how do you summarize your entire book like that?
This is one of the main misconceptions about writing a great book description. Your goal shouldn’t be to summarize your book—it should be to SELL your book. I don’t care if you write fiction or nonfiction, if your book description isn’t written like sales copy, it won’t do the job you hope it will.
So, how do you write a book description that sells? Here are six tips to help. Trust me; if you pay attention to these tips and use them to write your description, it will increase your sales (Provided you’ve written a good book).
Use Your Keywords
Remember those keywords you found when you were thinking about what to name your book? Those are the keywords that people type into the Amazon search engine when looking for a book, and so you should include them in your book description. After all, if people can’t find your book, they’ll never be able to read your awesome description, right? And those keywords will help your book show up in the results when they type them into Amazon’s search engine.
But you’ve got to use the keywords properly, or you’ll turn off readers. Don’t just senselessly stuff them into your description, but use them sparingly and only when it makes sense. The keywords shouldn’t stand out but flow flawlessly in the sentence. For example, in the description of this book, I used many keywords, but they all sound natural. In fact, if you weren’t looking for them, you probably wouldn’t have guessed they were there.
And this doesn’t only work for nonfiction, although fiction is a little bit trickier. For example, if you’re writing historical romance, you can use sentences like this: “If you like historical romance, you’ll love this book,” or, “This is one historical romance book you won’t be able to put down.”
Finally, don’t forget the tags. At the end of every one of my book descriptions, fiction and nonfiction alike, I use tags that are keywords. For instance, the book description for this book ends with this paragraph:
Tags: publish a book on Amazon, publish a kindle book, write a book, sell books, how to publish, publishing on Amazon, writing, write a book, book marketing, book promotion, book categories, book sales, indie publishing, publishing a book on Amazon, writing books, writing books for adults, selling books on Amazon, selling books, home-based business, publish a book
If you publish fiction, you’re better off making a list of “Amazon Categories” instead of tags. So if you write Christian romance, it might look something like this:
Amazon Categories: Christian fiction, Christian romance, romance, wholesome romance, Amish romance, Christian Amish romance.
Write the First Sentence Carefully
After you draw potential readers to your book page with carefully selected keywords, you’ll need to Wow them with the first sentence of your description. There are two proven ways to do this.
- Ask them a question. One tried and true method of catching a reader’s attention is to ask them a question about something they care about. In the description for this book, I begin my description by asking, “Are you tired of “how to publish books” that are full of fluff and no real information?” I could relate to their “pain” because before I began publishing, I bought many books that promise to show me the ropes, but ended up being full of fluff. And I assume many other people had fallen into the same trap.
- Make a Big Promise. The other way to get the reader’s attention is to make a promise so big that they have to keep reading to find out if it can possibly be true. In my book, How to Start a Home-Based Food Business, I begin the description with, “Finally, a comprehensive guide to starting a food business!” That line came from realizing that no books on the topic delved into the nitty-gritty details of running a food business. They were mostly overviews of the business, and I wanted people to understand that my book is different.
Both of these tactics can work with nonfiction and fiction. It’s obvious how to use them for nonfiction—simply identify your potential reader’s number one pain point and turn it into a question or promise. But what about fiction authors? How can they use it?
Much the same way. For example, if you write a mystery, your potential readers probably want a book that will keep them guessing until the end. Your question could be something from the plotline that makes them curious, and your promise could be about how the book will keep them guessing.
For example, it might look like this: “A debutant. A sinister con man. A gun. What could go wrong?” Or like this: “A romantic suspense that will not only make you fall in love with the characters but keep you guessing until the very last page.”
Do you know how they say first impressions count? The first sentence of your book description is your first impression to your potential readers. Make it count.
Sell, Don’t Describe
I know, you’re writing a “book description,” but your purpose isn’t to describe the book, it’s to sell it to the reader. Let me explain. When you’re browsing books on Amazon, and you read the descriptions, isn’t it to try and figure out if you want to buy the book? Of course, it is, and successful authors figure out how to tell you what the book is about while selling it to you at the same time.
But to sell your book, you’re going to have to borrow some tricks from copywriters. Now, I’m not talking about a sleazy sales pitch here. I’m talking about showing the reader why your book is perfect for them. And how do you do that?
- Identify their pain point. Ask any copywriter what the number one step is in writing good copy, and they’ll tell you that it’s figuring out what problem the reader has. Let’s use this book as an example. I identified my potential reader’s problem as wanting to publish a book, but not having one source of information they could use to learn what they need to know. It works the same for fiction. Your reader’s problem could be a desire for a wholesome romance, a need to solve a mystery, or to feel a connection to a character in a similar situation as their own. Once you’ve identified the problem, you can move on to the next step.
- Tell them you have the solution. Your next step is to convince them that you have the solution to their problem. But a key piece of advice here: if you don’t truly have the solution, don’t pretend you do. There is nothing worse than an author who claims to have a solution and then falls short in their promise. Experiences with books like that are what led me to write this book.
- Point out the benefits. To convince readers that you have the solution to their problem, take a cue from copywriters and point out the benefits they’ll get when they buy your book. For instance, I listed every topic I would cover in this book using bullet points in the book description. If the reader wasn’t sure I could come through on my promised solution, they only had to view the topics included in the book to be sure.
A fiction book won’t be structured the same way a nonfiction book will, but you can still use the same principle. Instead of talking about the benefits the reader will get in bullet point fashion, you’ll use your characters. Talk about the problem a character has, and make subtle promises to the reader that by the end of the book, they’ll be solved.
Make Sure You’re Clear
One of the problems I see over and over again is book descriptions that aren’t clear. In fact, some of them are so muddled, I walk away not even really knowing what the book is about. This is best solved by asking other people to read your description before you publish and then asking them to tell you what the book is about. If they can’t, you need to work more on the description.
Don’t Forget the Call to Action
No good sales pitch is complete until it’s delivered a call to action. This seemingly inconsequential step could mean the difference between a sale and the reader going on to the next page. Your call to action doesn’t have to be salesy or over the top to be effective, either. Simply close the description by asking the reader to buy the book. It’s simple, but it works.
Make it Attractive
Before you upload your description to Amazon, you should make it stand out by putting some of the text in bold or italics, or if you’re using bullet points, making sure they’re formatted correctly. You could use HTML code to do this, or you could use one of the best-kept secrets in the industry.
Kindlepreneur offers a free book description generator that I use for all my books. Simply paste the text in a box, decide what to bold to italicize, and then press “generate my code.” You’ll take that copy and paste that into the Amazon KDP page. It really couldn’t get any simpler.
And if You Write Fiction
Although the above suggestions apply to both nonfiction and fiction, there are a few more things you’ll need to do if you’re writing a book description for a fiction book. Let me sum them up below:
- It needs to tantalize the reader, and in a different way than nonfiction books do. While a nonfiction book promises an end to practical pain, a fiction book should promise the reader an emotional solution. For instance, if your character is struggling with a loss of faith, the reader should feel that they will go on the journey of faith with that character and experience the same satisfaction at the end.
- The description should be clear about which genre the book is in. There are negative reviews all over Amazon from readers who thought they were buying one genre book, only to discover it wasn’t the case. If you write romance, make it clear in the description. This is true for all genres. Readers want to know what to expect.
- You shouldn’t sway too far off the proven track. Readers in most genres like to feel the comfort of similarity. So if you write in a specific genre, you should take a look at the bestsellers in that genre, and write your description in the same way. This will let readers know that they can trust you to deliver a genre book that they’ll enjoy.
Of course, if you get stuck or want a professional to write your description, you can always hire someone. Fiverr offers book description gigs, and you can also find professional writers at UpWork. Just be sure that if you do decide to hire someone, they have experience in your genre.
Well, we’re getting close to publishing, but there are a few more important steps you’ll need to take. Next, let’s talk about whether you should enroll your book in Kindle Unlimited, or if you’re better off going “wide.”