Jane Friedman

How to Improve Your Amazon Book Description & Metadata

Photo by t_buchtele via Flickr

Today’s guest post is by Penny Sansevieri (@bookgal) and is adapted from her book How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon.


Designate All 7 Keywords

Among authors who self-publish using Amazon KDP, most know that they can choose up to two categories for their book. But you also get seven search keywords, and though Amazon says it’s optional, it really shouldn’t be. When I asked ten authors to let me take a look at the behind-the-scenes of their Amazon book description, with the caveat that I wouldn’t add terms they didn’t need, none of them had search words listed.

Categories are always a given—all my authors had chosen their categories—but search keywords are often ignored. Start thinking about your keywords, because they matter—more than you know. Remember not to get stuck on single words. You can have entire keyword strings, as you see in the screenshot below, and yes, you should use all seven.

An example of category and keyword selection on Amazon

Use Keywords in Your Amazon Book Description

The book description, often overlooked as a means to drive traffic to your page, is also a great place to use keywords. A book description should draw the reader in, but authors tend to get too flowery with these. Here’s a screenshot of this book, How to Sell a Truckload of Books on Amazon. You’ll see I use keywords throughout the page—in the header, in the description, and in the bullets:

When it comes to fiction, the rules still apply, but you may have to be creative in using your keywords. Let’s say you find a series of keywords like this:

It’s pretty tough to fit these into a general description, but you could consider using them as descriptors for your reviews. For example, “Fantastic buy and among one of the best new romance ebooks!” Always check with your endorser and ask if it’s OK if you need to reword the review slightly. Don’t redo the entire review; ideally, you should only have to add a word or two to weave the keywords in. Use what feels and reads right; don’t overstuff your description just for the sake of inserting keywords. Spend your time creating a description that presents your book in the best possible light.

Pay Attention to Amazon Themes

According to Amazon, “themes” were implemented for fiction books because consumers were searching for things like the type of protagonist or where the book was set (beach, city, etc.). So themes are the various aspects of your book’s content. For example, if you have a gay protagonist, one of your themes would be “gay protagonist.” If you have a crime novel in a military setting, a theme might be “military.”

Here’s where your seven keywords come into play. If your book is fiction, your keywords will also be your themes. For instance, if you have a romance novel, you’ll replace two of your keyword strings with your theme. If you’ve written a mystery, you’ll replace three of them. Utilizing themes is optional, but you can bet that if Amazon is rolling this out, it’s probably based on hard data.

I highly recommend using theme words in your book description. If you want to swap out keywords with theme words, you can do this through your Amazon dashboard or ask your publisher to change them if you don’t have access to it.

Finally, if you have a KDP account, you can access the keywords Amazon encourages you to add to your book metadata in order to gain visibility for that particular search. I would, however, test these just as you would test other keywords because when I’ve used them, some work brilliantly while others do not. (Note: this URL only works if you have a KDP account and are logged in).

Add Reviews to Your Description

Dressing up your Amazon book page should be a high priority. Previously, you were at the mercy of whoever reviewed the book on Amazon and whatever details the publisher decided to add. Not anymore. Now you can go in and add your own reviews to help dress up the page.

Here’s how: Login to your Amazon Author Central account (you’ll need to create an account if you don’t have one yet), and go to the Books tab. Click on any book there, and it will open to a page that lets you fill in more back-end detail. It’s that easy. Editing in Amazon is pretty sophisticated, meaning you can bold and underline portions of your descriptions and reviews (like headlines, names, etc.). It works like Word and makes it easy to draw the eye to a particular sentence or section of the review.

Enhance Your Amazon Headline

You can add some style enhancers to your book description headline when you upload your book through the Amazon dashboard, to make your book description more visually appealing. (See the screen capture of my book description above for an example of what style enhancers  can do.)

Here are some of the headline enhancers available:

You can add in numbered lists and bullet points, too.


For more tips from Penny, check out her 2-book set, How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon.

What tips and tricks do you have to share about improving your Amazon book description and metadata? Share in the comments.