Whether or not you want to admit it, if you're a self-published author who is selling a book on Amazon or elsewhere, your book is a product. Your book's description, which appears on its product page, is the single most important factor in how many books you sell, but many authors practically ignore their book's description.
The Essentials of Good Book Descriptions
When potential buyers come to an author’s product page, the first thing they look at is the book's description. It needs to inform and engage them, but most of all it needs to entice. Your book description needs to be seductive -- it needs to make potential readers want to know more.
Before we go on to the specific words and phrases to use in a book description, let's look at what book descriptions need to accomplish:
A Good Book Description summarizes (without giving too much away) the main plot points of your book.
A Good Book Description defines the book's genre and subgenre
A Good Book Description uses the main keywords and phrases that shoppers will use to find the type of books they're looking for.
A Good Book Description is tantalizing. It hooks potential customers and makes them want to read more.
How to Write a Book Description Using Sales Data
Discount eBook newsletter giant Book Bub recently conducted A/B testing for several elements of book descriptions, with the intent of finding out what factors sell more books. The testing was conducted by sending two different descriptions of the same book to their newsletter subscribers, and then seeing which description received the most clicks from potential readers. Clicks, in this case, mean interest in a particular book.
The results are revealing – and useful for writing book descriptions, press releases, blurbs and even book trailers and social media posts about your book. The variables that caused the biggest change in click rates among potential readers who receive the discounted books newsletter are highlighted below.
How to Write A Book Description: What Matters
Book Blurbs Should Quote People, not Publications. Those short quotes on the front of your book (“The Best Beach Read of 2015!”) should be from a person, not a publication. Book Bub’s research showed that when the quote came from another author, the book received a 30.4 percent higher click rate.
Put Your Reader in the Picture. If you can help a potential reader see herself in your book description, you’re more likely to make the sale. “If you love military thrillers, don’t miss this gripping new read” will sell more than “Gripping new read” alone. Put another way, reach out to romance lovers, historical fiction lovers, cozy mystery lovers, etc. and tell them that your book is for them. Book Bub’s research showed that these small additions increased click rates by as much as 20%.In the case of historical fiction, simply adding the time period in which the book takes place to the book description increased clicks by 25.1%!
Reviews Matter. Books that had at least 150 five star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads were more 14.1% more likely to be chosen by potential readers who receive Book Bub’s newsletter. Having positive reviews on Goodreads seemed to have a greater impact than the same number of positive reviews on Amazon, but whichever number is higher for you should be the one that you play up in your description or press release or sales copy. The more positive reviews your book has on either site, the better the sales.
Award-Winners Win. If your book has won an award, mention it. No matter how small or how obscure, award-winning books had a 6.7 % higher click rate. This was especially true for awards that were genre-specific.
How to Write A Book Description: What Doesn't Matter
The results of the A/B testing for book descriptions was just as interesting for the variables that didn’t seem to matter. Among the variables tested that had little or no effect on the click rates of potential readers were:
Bestseller Type. Being able to honestly say that your book is a bestseller matters, but where it’s a bestseller does not seem to have an impact on sales. New York Times, USA Today and Amazon bestsellers all did equally well. This is a boon to self-published authors who mostly sell online: Amazon calculates bestseller status much more frequently than any other site, and only takes its own sales into account. That means that many more books are likely to achieve bestseller status.
Questions vs Statements. Book descriptions with opening lines (or “hooks”) that posed questions did no better than those with hooks that made statements. For instance “Will Leila find out that he’s the perfect guy?” and “Leila may find out that he’s the perfect guy.” will yield the same number of clicks.
Age is Just a Number. Mentioning the main character’s age had no impact on reader interest, even in the Young Adult genre.
New Author vs. Seasoned Professional. When a book was an author’s debut, mentioning that fact had no impact on the amount of reader interest/clicks the book received.
To learn more about how to write a book description and sell more books, follow me on social media. If you need help writing book descriptions, author bios, press releases or any aspect of author and book promotion, feel free to CONTACT ME.