Note from Jane: In today’s guest post, author and editor C. S. Lakin (@cslakin) of the award-winning blog Live Write Thrive offers guidelines on crafting your Amazon book description to maximize sales.
If you’re an author, you may not like thinking about your published books as products, but that’s what they are. And the description section on your book’s product page is the most important selling tool you have.
Once a potential customer lands on an author’s product page, that description has to be written in a way that entices. Sure, some customers may have already decided to buy a particular book, so they may not even bother to read the description.
But most shoppers are on the hunt for their next read or cookbook or exercise guide. They’re going to consider a number of books, and the one with the best description—that fits closest to what they’re looking for—is the one they’ll buy.
What Your Amazon Book Description Needs to Accomplish
With this in mind, you need to have more than just a nice description of your book. It needs to be terrific. Similar to back-cover copy, this description copy should accomplish a few essential things:
- It needs to quickly summarize or hint at what your story or topic is about in a way that tantalizes.
- It needs to define the genre and subgenre (even though it’s assumed the shopper has already picked the genre as part of her search, that’s not always the case).
- It needs to sound and look similar to the bestselling books in your genre.
- It needs to integrate the main keyword phrases you’ve chosen that you believe potential readers will type into the Kindle search bar.
- It needs to be riveting and hook your customers, just as your book’s opening page should hook them.
Whether you are publishing a fiction or nonfiction book, you will have the best success if you study and emulate the description style of top-selling books in your genre or category. This may sound obvious, but few writers do this.
In fact, shockingly enough, a lot of writers don’t bother to put in more than a few brief lines of description. This section is valuable real estate, and on Amazon Kindle, you are allotted 4,000 characters to make that great impression and get a sale. Use them all.
How to Research Your Amazon Book Description
Go to the Kindle store and click on the Kindle ebooks tab. Then choose your category on the left sidebar (such as Science Fiction and Fantasy). From there, choose a subgenre that’s closest to your book. Let’s go with Fantasy ~ Myths and Legends, for example. That cuts down the search results to 3,610.
If you don’t have the KDSPY Chrome tool, this is a great time to use it. If you click on it first, then navigate using the link that comes up on the KDSPY screen, then follow the above process, you’ll get this:
Guess what? You’re looking at the top twenty bestselling books in that genre in the last thirty days (real-time data).
Now what? I’d ignore the books that are set at $0 right now. Why? Because they’re free books, and they may only be “selling” big right now because they’re free. Rather, take a look at the top ten paid books. They are going to give you the best examples of description.
Yes, some are going to have lousy descriptions. Some bestselling authors aren’t going to need as much help to get discovered as you might.
But, to have every advantage so you can get to the tops of those bestseller lists, spend time crafting terrific selling copy.
Here’s what you do next:
- Open up each of those ten or twenty paid bestselling books in your niche genre (the subgenre or subcategory that more specifically fits your book).
- Copy and paste their description into a blank document. Each one. Just put them all in there, one after another.
- Read them all. Highlight similarities in the writing style, layout, what words are used, what keywords pop out, and what special formatting (bold, italics, etc.) are used.
- Make some notes about the features that are recurring and popular.
- Write a rough draft of your description copy using the same basic ideas as these bestselling books.
- Get some feedback from critique partners, savvy readers, or a professional editor, and then polish your description.
Be sure to have someone proofread your copy if you aren’t a stellar copyeditor. The last thing you want are mistakes in your description. Yes, readers will notice them (and of course, you want to have your book professionally edited before you put it up for sale. That should go without saying).
How to Write Your Amazon Book Description
1. Start off your description copy with a blurb about one or two sentences long. Make this bold. Why? Because now Amazon sticks the annoying “read more” tag after just a couple of lines—meaning that almost your entire description is hidden! You need to have a super compelling first line to get the potential customer to click on that “read more” tag. It’s disappointing, but that’s how it is. Think: hook.
2. After your awesome book description, put in some top reviews of your book. If you don’t have any yet, leave space to add them so you can use up that 4,000-character allotment. At some point people will review your book. One way to get started on this before you publish is to ask friends to read and be ready to post a review. You can tweet for #bookreviewers with your genre hashtag (#mystery #fantasy #romance) or post your need on your Facebook page. All you need is a handful of honest, good reviews up as soon as your book is published. Don’t bribe (bad, bad), but do appropriately thank those willing to read and review for you.
3. You can also make a nice simple list of Amazon categories at the end of your description. This is another tasteful way to add in the keyword phrases that won’t feel like spam.
Remember: You are selling a product to a consumer. That consumer may or may not be looking for a book exactly like yours. In fact, with riveting description (which, I hope, means you have a riveting book), you can draw in buyers who may not have considered a book like yours. Because of your awesome description, they are now intrigued, and might toy with the idea of buying your book.
That description is the first step in the purchase. But it’s the most important. So take the time to write some terrific description copy. It’s one of the best ways to optimize your book on Amazon.
Note from Jane: C. S. Lakin’s new online course teaches self-publishing authors how to target genre to sell more books. Register before Feb. 20, 2016 to get $100 off the course.
C. S. Lakin is a writing coach, workshop instructor, and award-winning author of 30+ books and blogger at Live Write Thrive (where you can find more than one million words on novel craft). Her Writer’s Toolbox series of books teach the craft of fiction, and her online video courses at Writing for Life Workshops have helped more than a thousand writers. She also works as a book copyeditor and does more than 200 critiques a year for writers, agents, and publishers in six continents (she’s still waiting for someone in Antarctica to hire her …).