When I first started writing, my book descriptions were horrible! I’d spend months crafting the perfect book and then I’d be so excited to publish I’d completely rush my description. After a few months of disappointing book sales, it finally hit me. I could have the best book out there, but if my description didn’t compel people to buy it, it was all a waste.
With that, I started testing a bunch of strategies until I found what worked for me. In this article we’ll look at:
- Book description structures for both fiction and nonfiction books
- What a power word is
- How to get great looking book descriptions
1: The Right Structure
A good house needs a solid foundation, and a great book description needs a solid structure. By getting the structure right, you have the scope to craft an engaging book description that converts browsers into readers.
For your book description, you can use the same structure for both fiction and nonfiction work. However, I like to keep them seperate. When writing a book description for fiction work, I recommend Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis:
- A short hook. When you are browsing a book on Amazon, only the first few lines of the book description are initially on display. These few lines are to be used for hooking in your reader — so write something that’ll keep potential readers interested.
- A short summary. You need to give your readers a short look into what your book is about. Now, as tempting as it is to go over all of the sub-plots and side-characters you’ve worked hard on, you should only stick to the vital parts of your story. The aim of this short summary is to assure your readers that your book is one they’ll enjoy.
- A selling paragraph. Here you can talk yourself up! Mention any other accolades you may have accumulated in the industry. For example, mention if you’ve ever had any bestsellers.
- A call-to-action. You need to finish your book description by telling your reader what their next step is – which is usually clicking ‘buy’.
Now that you know this, you’ll see this structure everywhere! But, if you want a great example of this structure in action, check out the children’s book, Wooly Meets The Chickens.
If you’re writing nonfiction, you can use the fiction structure above. However, I’d recommend you follow Tucker Max’s book description structure from his site, Scribe Writing:
- Write a hook. In the same way to the fiction structure, start with a hook to get the attention of the reader.
- Describe the current pain the reader is in. These days, the majority of nonfiction books are written to solve a specific problem. So, in your description, talk about the problems your ideal reader is facing.
- Talk about how your book will solve their pain. Then, once you’ve done a great job explaining the problem your reader is facing, go into detail about what your book can do to fix that problem.
- Tell the reader why you’re worth listening to. Discuss your background and expertise. Some would put this at the start, but it’s a lot more effective to get the reader’s interest by talking about their needs first.
- Open the loop. People are incredibly predictable in a lot of ways. If you ask a question, people will want to answer it. So, create some intrigue that’ll get your reader interested in your book again.
- Call to action. Again, in the same way as you would do in a fiction book, add a call-to-action to show the viewers their next step.
2: Power Words
Sales copywriting has always interested me. Remember those sales letters you used to get in the mailbox? Well, those letters were written by sales copywriters. The best copywriters could earn millions in revenue from these letters.
Which to me was crazy! Imagine being able to write a letter that’d make a million dollars!
Over time, I’ve looked at sales copywriting a little and just like writing a novel, sales copy relies on structures and techniques. One of these most reliable techniques is using power words to help get your messaging across.
Power words generate an emotional response in your reader and are a great way to build a connection between your writing and the reader. The best copywriters use these words in their sales letters to convert more purchases, and you can get similar results if you use them wisely in your book description.
Here are two great lists of power words I have saved to my bookmark bar:
For selling more books, keywords are one of your best friends. A keyword is a phrase that someone types into a search engine – or in our case, into an Amazon search bar. You’ve probably noticed that when you search a particular phrase, a search result will appear that is unique to that phrase — usually one incredibly similar to the words or phrase you’ve typed into the search bar.
Well, with some great tools – or just a bit of elbow grease, you can reverse-engineer your book description and sales page based off phrases that people are actually searching.
Pretty cool, right?!
Well, when you want to find keywords for your next book, I suggest you use one of two methods. You can do it the manual way:
- Use Incognito mode in your browser so your previous shopping history isn’t impacting the search results.
- On the button to the left of the search bar, choose “Kindle Store” or “Books”. This means you’ll only get other books showing up in the results.
- Find some phrases that suit your book. When you start typing each phrase into the search bar, Amazon will try to guess what you’re writing. Write these suggested phrases down on a sheet of paper and choose one result you like most.
- Write your favorite Amazon suggestion followed by a single letter of the alphabet -This will alter your results. For example, if you write “Romance a,” you might get the suggestion “romance anthology”, then type “Romance b,” and see what appears. You should go through the entire alphabet, it’ll take some time, but you’ll get some great ideas.
It’s not a quick process, but you can get some great ideas. Once you’ve got a list of keywords that you think match your book, see what the results page for each search looks like and check out the competition. What keywords are they using?
The only thing I don’t love about the manual method — besides how long it takes — is that you don’t get accurate sales data. Instead, you’ve just got to make some educated guesses.
If you want a more accurate and faster option, I built a software called Publisher Rocket which helps speed up your keyword research. Rocket collects Amazon search data so you can find dozens of keywords in seconds, along with how popular those search phrases are and how competitive they are.
Once you’ve got a list of great keywords, you can use them throughout your book description.
4: The Right Formatting
If you’ve been on the Kindle store, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the better selling book descriptions have some fancy formatting. It can be something as subtle as an italic or bolded word, or the full use of headings and font sizes. Well, if you’re a tech-head, that is only just some basic HTML doing all that heavy lifting.
If you’re not tech savvy, there are a few ways you can use HTML to code your book description. First, you can learn the basics on a range of great sites around the web. Below are two of my favorites.
Or, if that isn’t your style, I’ve created a book description generator you can use for free. All you need to do is type the description in how you like it and click ‘generate my code’.
Your book description is an underrated selling tool for your book. When you combine the right formatting with the right structure and keywords, you can create a description that sells your books.
Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash