Guest post by Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur.com. Check out his site if you’re an indie author or planning to become one! He’s awesome!
Your book description is your greatest selling tool as an author. A lot of the time we focus on covers, titles and ad copy. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all very important, but a book description plays just as big a role. To fully understand the role of your book description, you need to see the buying process of a reader on Amazon:
Amazon Search Page > Your Book Sales Page > ‘Look Inside’ > Buy Now
The book description is the element that plays the biggest part in getting someone to click ‘look inside’ or even go straight to the buy button. And if you want to sell more books, build your author brand, and become the success you were born to be, you need to focus on optimizing it.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 unique tips you can use to improve your book description and bring in more sales.
1. Do Your Research
One of the most underrated aspects of marketing on Amazon is researching what’s already working. You’ve probably done some keyword research and cover research where you’ve looked at what the best performing books are doing. Well, you can do the same with your book description.
First, you’ll need to find what books are selling well. You can do that by selecting the appropriate category and subcategory on the Kindle store’s left sidebar. Or, if you already know the keyword you’re going to target, you can type that into the search bar.
Publisher Rocket, a software I created for keyword research, is what I use to check out my competition. It shows you a list of books you’re competing against, along with more detailed data. The ‘Check It Out’ button shows you the sales page of particular books and allows you to research how those books are writing their descriptions, what keywords they’re showing up for, and how successful they’ve been with that.
Note from Mica: Publisher Rocket is one of the two best purchases I’ve ever made as an indie author (the other one being Vellum). I’d say it was worth its weight in gold, if it weighed anything!
Once you’ve got your list of the top-performing books you’re going to compete against, here is what you need to do:
- Visit the sales page of the top ten or twenty books that you’ll be competing against. The more books you look at, the better your data will be.
- Copy and paste the books’ description into a Word document. You should have all the descriptions in the same document.
- Read every one of the descriptions and see if there are any common features between them. You can even use a word cloud, which gives you a visual representation of how common different words are in a document. See below for a cloud for this article!
- Take notes on what the other book descriptions have that you can implement in your own book description.
Remember, you’re writing this description for your reader, not yourself. You may not like a book description that has a lot of formatting like bolded phrases, but if it’s a common occurrence in the bestselling books in your genre, odds are it stands out to your readers.
2. Make Your Book Description Easy To Scan
In research around web-viewing preferences, it was found that 79 percent of web users scanned every new web page they saw, with only 16 percent reading a web-page word-by-word.
So, you need to make any description you create easy to scan. For example, check out this book description below. It’s an incredibly long book description that’s easy to scan. Usually, I’d recommend a shorter description, but the layout makes it easier to read than other descriptions of the same length.
As you can see in the example above, the book description is written specifically for readers who scan web pages. So, put a focus on making your book description easy for readers to skim when they first open your Amazon sales page.
3. Use Formatting To Make Your Description Easy to Read
As we spoke about in the point above, it is vital to create a book description that is easy for your readers to scan. A huge part of a scannable book description is in the formatting.
Luckily, you can do all of that using HTML tags right in your Amazon description box. If you’re handy with basic HTML, you can enter that right into the box on the publish page.
If you’re not familiar with HTML, it is a basic text-based code that computers use to create web pages. To get your book description formatting right, you can just use the same basic HTML you would on your website. Don’t worry if it isn’t your thing though, you can try this easy-to-use book description generator, which will do all of the hard work for you.
Note from Mica: That book description generator is a must-have tool, even if you know HTML. Amazon inconveniently does not allow you to preview your description for several days once the changes go live, but this tool lets you see it just by clicking “Enter.”
The generator lets you type in your description and it’ll spit out the code you can copy and paste straight into Amazon. To use the tool, do the following:
- Type your book description straight into the generator. Don’t use a pre-formatted description or something you’ve written in a word doc on your trusty laptop–that’ll cause more headaches than it’ll solve. Instead, just type directly into the generator.
- Highlight the sections that you want to format and press the appropriate button. With the tool, you can do the following:
- Set a range of heading and subheadings
- Create lists
- Put emphasis on words with bold, italic and underlined words or phrases
- Strikethrough text
- Create horizontal lines for a page break
- Subscript and Superscript
- Create ‘fine print’ with small font sizes
- Keep in mind that Amazon only allows 4,000 characters in your book description. These 4,000 characters will also include any HTML characters. So make sure your description isn’t too long. HTML doesn’t require a heap of characters, but of course, it will lengthen your total.
- Once you’ve got your book description looking perfect, then click the big blue button “Generate My Code.”
- You’ll see a slab of code appear in the box below the big button. Copy and paste that code directly into your Amazon book description box.
4. Keep Your Language Simple
When looking at ways to make your book description easy to engage with, an underused strategy is to make sure your language is simple enough for everyone to understand.
There is a time and a place to show off your ten-dollar words, and a book description isn’t one of them. You want a description that anyone will be able to connect with. If someone comes across a word they’re unfamiliar with, their engagement will drop and all that hard work you’ve done writing a description will be for nothing.
But how will you know if your work is easy enough to read? There are a bunch of tools that can help you with that. First is the Hemingway editor, which gives you a quick assessment of the readability of your work. Everything is conveniently color-coded and easy to analyze. You should copy the first draft of your book description into Hemingway and make your description as easy to read as possible.
5. Update Your Book Description Regularly
There are a lot of things I love about marketing online, but my favorite thing is how fluid making changes can be. Your book description is no different.
Your book description doesn’t have to be static. When you’ve got a special promotion, you should mention that in your description. Also, it’s a great idea to add any accolades your book gets after its release. This is a strategy that a lot of bigger publishing companies use. For example, check out the description of Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers. Clearly, the description has been edited to include a positive review and accolades like being on the New York Times bestseller list.
You can also look at editing your book description if your book isn’t selling well. Perhaps your ads aren’t converting at the right rate. Try making some changes to your book description and see if it has any impact on sales.
Amazon ad data is usually a great indicator of the quality of your description–if a potential reader has clicked your ad then they’ve already resonated with your cover and title.
Book descriptions are often an afterthought to self-publishers. But thinking of them like that is a mistake. If you’re looking for ways to sell more books, start by refining your book description. You might be surprised at how far that one change can take you.
Photo by Pablò on Unsplash