How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon

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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:

  1. It needs to quickly summarize or hint at what your story or topic is about in a way that tantalizes.
  2. 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).
  3. It needs to sound and look similar to the bestselling books in your genre.
  4. It needs to integrate the main keyword phrases you’ve chosen that you believe potential readers will type into the Kindle search bar.
  5. 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:

KDspy screenshot

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:

  1. 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).
  2. Copy and paste their description into a blank document. Each one. Just put them all in there, one after another.
  3. 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.
  4. Make some notes about the features that are recurring and popular.
  5. Write a rough draft of your description copy using the same basic ideas as these bestselling books.
  6. 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.

Screen capture of the description for Wild Secret, Wild Longing

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.

A screenshot showing a list of Amazon categories in a book description

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 writes on Amazon Descriptions: "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."

Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion and tagged , , , .
C. S. Lakin

C. S. Lakin

C. S. Lakin is the author of twenty-two books and works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach. Her award-winning blog Live Write Thrive gives free in-depth instruction and advice to write for life. For access to her free email course—The 8 Essential Steps to Selling Big on Amazon—click here.

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31 Comments on "How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon"

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[…] Author and editor C. S. Lakin offers guidelines on crafting your Amazon book description to maximize sales.  […]

Bette A. Stevens

Thanks, Jane!

Paula Cappa
C.S. If I don’t have the Kindle Spy Tool, can I click into the genre on my book (on the Best Seller Rank) and get the same list? Does that make sense? This is a copy of my Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Occult #223 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality > Occult > Supernatural #248 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Ghosts Would you like to give feedback on images or tell us… Read more »
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[…] How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon (Jane Friedman) 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… Read more »
Mary York

Great ideas, Jane! Once I master my “technophobia” I’m going to give social media a try!

laurieboris

Thank you, C.S. and Jane. One of my goals for this year is to spiff up my book descriptions, and I’m bookmarking this article for the task.

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[…] in the sea of discoverability, Miral Sattar lists 7 ways to nail your author SEO, C.S. Lakin shows how writers can optimize their book’s description on Amazon, and Janet Reid gives a simple method of deciding who should be on your mailing […]

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[…] Source: How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon | Jane Friedman […]

Annika Perry

Really useful information and I’ve bookmarked the page for future reference. Many thanks.

writeanne

Thanks both. This post is very helpful and clearly explained. It’s bookmarked for reference.

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[…] How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon | Jane Friedman […]

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[…] How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon […]

Donna

Nice! Thank you for sharing!

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[…] (new) understanding that I need to assign some tasks farther into the future. For example, I saw a cool article by CS Lakin on Jane Friedman’s blog and decided, “Yeah, this is really important. Have they changed the book description […]

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Evan Asher

This is a very helpful article. Thank you!

D. Wallace Peach

Great article. I favorited it, as it seems worth reading closely and doing a bit of poking around. Thanks so much 🙂

Kelee Morris

Very helpful, but I think you should put more emphasis on actually writing an outstanding description. I know from experience that it’s damn hard, but it’s essential. I read too many plot summaries that are so convoluted I can’t follow them easily, or that contain atrocious grammar. If you can’t write 4,000 well-crafted characters, it doesn’t bode well for your 90,000 word book.

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[…] How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon […]

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[…] be sure to have a terrific book description and design it for […]

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[…] understanding that I need to assign some tasks farther into the future. For example, I saw a cool article by CS Lakin on Jane Friedman’s blog and decided, “Yeah, this is really important. Have they changed the book description […]

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[…] be sure to have a terrific book description and design it for […]

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[…] Here’s some information on how to do that from C. S. Lakin. […]

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[…] How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon by C. S. Lakin […]

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[…] How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon Optimize your e-book’s information to help the right readers connect with your book. […]

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[…] How authors can maximise their descriptions, Jane Friedman tells us how. […]

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