You can control only a few things on your Amazon book’s page and you should make sure you covered all the bases. I wrote a separate post about the headline of your book – it’s the first sentence of the book description.
I created another post about editorial reviews. Those two elements determine about 80% of conversion from a casual browser into a buyer.
This post is about the rest of your book description.
kind of authority do I have to talk about this topic? My own books convert
about 1 out of 22 visitors into a buyer. That’s a very conservative estimation.
If you know your descriptions are doing better than that, you can dismiss my ruminations. If you have no idea, or your ratio is worse than 1:22, do continue reading.
that your book description will decide only about 20% of your conversion
because 80% is decided by the headline and editorial reviews. The main function
of the headline is to hook a reader, make him stop for a moment and read the
So, it’s not enough to have a fabulous headline and a crappy book description.
Your book description is your sales copy. In general, the sales copy is:
content that influences a consumer to take action
In case of the book description this definition morphs into:
A book description is a content that influences a reader to buy a book.
This is the ultimate aim of your book description. Your description doesn’t have to thrill your readers. It doesn’t have to entertain them. It certainly doesn’t need to inform them. Its sole objective is to influence a reader to buy the book!
Thus, whenever you feel adventurous with your description and strive away from my advice, ask yourself: does it help to influence a reader to buy a book? If not, ditch the idea.
Tools and Systems
Many authors struggle with marketing in general and writing their descriptions in particular. I’m the accidental marketer. At the beginning I wasn’t much better than most. What immensely helped me with my copywriting were repeatable systems and tools I have been using.
First of all, I don’t start writing my book description after writing the book. My first step when I get the idea for a book is brainstorming this idea on paper. It may take from 500 to 5,000 words. Once the idea is not just in my head, but on paper, my second step is answering a string of questions about the idea itself. Not the plot. Not the stories. Not even chapters. There are questions like:
What’s the audience?
What problem does the book solve?
What’s the solution?
What’s unique about it?
Answering those questions helps me a bit to get out of the author’s shoes into the marketer’s shoes. BTW, those questions are the introduction to writing an outline of the book. You can grab my outlining process here:
before writing the description, I use another simple tool – a sheet that ranks
the benefits and features of my book through the eyes of my readers.
I learned this technique from Peter Sandeen. First, I brainstorm about 15 benefits of my book. Then, I estimate each of the benefits with three questions:
How much do my readers
How easily can they find it elsewhere?
How easily can I prove I can deliver it?
I actually rank my answers with numbers and then multiply the three numbers for each benefit. I end up with numerical value telling me which things are most valuable for my audience and I focus my book description around those points.
If you write fiction, don’t dismiss this method. Your benefits and features may not be about the direct lessons from the book, but emotional states. This process helps you discern what are the strong points of your book. If you write thrillers it’s not enough to say it’s fast-paced. 8 out of 10 thrillers are fast-paced.
You need to think about what your readers want (entertainment, humor, adrenaline, etc.), if it’s already available on the market and what’s your unique take that no other author provides. Once you know those things, you can use them as cornerstones of your book description.
Going through both exercises brings clarity. You no longer sit in front of empty page thinking “What the heck should I write in my description?”
With this pinch of clarity, you can start writing the description itself. If your book is a how-to type nonfiction I cannot recommend enough Kevin Kruse’s formula for writing a book description that sells a ton of books.
If your nonfiction is a bit different in nature (for example a memoir), I say you should stick to the formula at least in the overall structure.
I don’t have
good news for fiction authors. Writing fiction blurbs is more an art than a
formula. I can recommend two books about fiction copywriting – Mastering
Amazon Descriptions by Brian Meeks and How
to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen.
Not that I read any of them, but I know both of those guys and they “made it” in the area of fiction themselves. They’ve been there and they’ve done that; that’s the best recommendation you could’ve ever got.
Life is not fair, I know. Nonfiction writers get a free, simple, clean, step-by step formula to follow and fiction writers get two thick volumes to read.
Universal Points of Amazon Book Descriptions
Regardless of the specific plan of action, there are a few universal points for writing a book description:
1. A headline.
I already wrote the whole 15-hundred-word long post about it. You’d better read it.
I’ll repeat just the main point: a headline is obligatory. Period.
2. Follow-up hooks.
In Kruse’s formula they are imagine/ what if sentences right after the headline that beget reader’s curiosity and invite him into a dialog with the author. They speak both to the pain points and promise to get over them. In case of fiction, there may be a few short sentences that entice curiosity:
A mysterious stranger.
A cruel murder.
A broken heart.
May it be the start of a true love?
Ehem, it’s something that has just come to my mind right now. I don’t say it’s even kosher.
Check out first the copywriting books I mentioned. Keep in mind that all you need to achieve with those follow-up hooks is to allure a reader deeper into the description. Let them click this “read more” link. Then they are hooked.
3. Authority and social proof.
I wrote about this topic in another post where I preached using Editorial Reviews. Read it, don’t skip it.
Buck Bub analyzed their data about their ads and concluded that mentioning awards of your book increases the conversion ratio by 6.7%.
In Kruse’s formula the first paragraph after imagine/ what if sentences says something about an author’s authority.
If you don’t toot your own horn, who will?
Of course, you cannot be obnoxious about it. All you need is one-two sentences about your expertise or quoting 1-2 raving reviews (for fiction books).
4. The main body.
Read the formula or the books mentioned above. Come up with something 😉
5. Call to action.
ultimate promise again – Solve your problem (nonfiction); Sate your emotions
(fiction) and add “grab your copy
That’s enough. With my CTA’s I’m even more pushy:
“Grab your copy now by clicking the BUY now with 1-Click button at the top of this page!”
Does it work? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s so frickin’ hard to test anything on Amazon. But thousands of copywriters cannot be wrong, can they?
If there is a chance to increase your conversion rate just by 1%, it’s worth it. You will write this sentence just once, upload it on Amazon and be done with it. In the next year it may be the difference between 600 or 606 readers.
The function of the call to action is to remind a reader who has just landed on your book page what he/ she is there for: to buy a book.
If writing your book descriptions gives you headaches, stick to the following outline:
A headline/ hook
Authority/ social proof
A call to action
A book description is content that influences a reader to buy a book. That’s why you write it. This is your objective.