Ever wondered why some books with a similar profile to yours outsell you? Or, have you wondered why you get a lot of people clicking through to your book from your ads but not buying? It’s more than likely your book description–or “blurb.”
In an online bookstore, your blurb is basically your sales page. A well-written blurb can be the difference between a reader purchasing your book or leaving to look for another option.
In this article, we’ll look at the steps you should take to optimize your book description (including templates for both fiction and nonfiction!). And we’ll talk about some very powerful strategies for using keywords to improve exposure and conversions.
Whether you’re writing a new description or sprucing up an existing one, the four steps in this article will show you how to market your newly published book without even trying.
Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Do Some Keyword Research
To make the most of your book blurb, you’ll want to use targeted keywords. A keyword is a phrase people type into a search bar when looking for something online–in our case, on Amazon.
But why are keywords important?
A couple of reasons.
First, when your description uses keywords that speak directly to what shoppers are searching for, they’re more likely to see your book as the perfect purchase.
And second, using keywords intelligently can help you get more exposure on Amazon for those searches, which can lead to more sales.
When it comes to finding keywords for your book, there are two main strategies that I recommend.
- Make sure you’re using Incognito mode in your browser. This will make sure your searches aren’t impacted by your search history.
- Choose “Kindle Store” or “Books” as the Amazon category. This will make sure that only books appear in your results.
- Start typing in a word related to your book, and see what Amazon’s suggested searches are. This will give you a genre-specific phrase that’s handy to use.
- Once you’ve found a phrase that you like, add each letter of the alphabet to the end of your phrase, and take note of what comes up. For example, you may write “Romance a,” “Romance b,” and go through the entire alphabet.
It’s a long process, but one that is well worth your time. The only negative about manual keyword research (besides the time commitment) is that you don’t know how popular keywords are. Some phrases may be searched thousands of times a month, and some may be searched ten times.
The second method is to use a tool I created called Publisher Rocket to speed up your keyword research. Rather than spend hours at it, you can find a selection of relevant phrases in a matter of seconds–and the best part is you get Amazon search data too, so you’ll know how many times each keyword is searched and how competitive those phrases are.
You can use these keywords in your description to optimize it.
Step 2: Understand Power Words
If selling isn’t something you have much experience with, you’ll want to pay extra attention to this section. Power words are words used to activate a psychological or emotional reaction in readers. They get the name ‘power words’ because they’re so persuasive that people simply can’t resist their effect. Traditionally, these words are used by copywriters to generate more sales at a higher conversion rate.
More sales at a higher conversion sounds pretty good, right?
You don’t have to be a sales copywriter to get the most out of power words either. You can use the same words in your book descriptions to convert potential readers to take action. Here is a quick example of power words you can use in your description and what emotion you’re trying to invoke in the potential reader.
|To show happiness||Show authority||Show sadness|
If you want to know more about power words, here are some great lists:
Now that you’ve picked out your keywords and have an idea of what power words you could use, it’s time to outline your structure.
Step 3: Get Your Structure Right
This step of your book description process is the only part where fiction and nonfiction authors differ in their approach. While both fiction and nonfiction authors need an effective book blurb, there are differences in what that looks like.
If you’re a fiction author, your blurb should follow this structure, which is adapted from Byan Cohen’s book, How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis
- A short tagline. On Amazon, you’ll only have one or two lines displayed and then there’ll be an option to ‘read more’ underneath them. So, you’ll need to make the most of that space with a tagline that will get potential readers to click ‘add to cart’ or at least, read the entire description.
- A present tense summary that uses limited words to demonstrate the plot’s best selling points. Don’t go too plot-heavy here. You don’t want to get into the weeds, but you do want to invoke a sense of emotional connection with the main character.
- A selling paragraph that uses emotional adjectives and genre cues. Here is where you can start to build a little hype. You can let people know what genre your book is in and if there’s anything else of note you have that is important (for example, if you’re a bestselling author).
- A call-to-action. These are super important and not done as much as they should be. Use a call-to-action as a final push to get readers to buy your book.
Here is a great example of the above structure from the children’s book, Wooly Meets The Chickens.
For a non-fiction author, your book description should have a slightly different structure, as Tucker Max explains on Scribe Writing:
- Write a hook or tagline. Just as in the fiction book, look to create a snappy hook that draws readers in.
- Describe the current pain that the reader is in. Once you’ve got your reader’s attention, discuss their main pain point. You need to be accurate, so use simple language that your reader will relate to.
- Talk about how your book will solve their pain. Discuss your book as the solution to your reader’s problem. Discuss the benefits that they’ll get after completing the steps from your book. Will it be money? More freedom? Those ‘washboard’ abs?
- Tell the reader why you’re worth listening to. Here is where you briefly talk about your background and why your book will be worth reading. For example, if you’re writing a book on personal finance and you’ve spent years working in the field, that’s a good place to start.
- Open the loop. This is almost like the cliffhanger at the end of a TV show that makes you watch the next episode. Explain that you’ll solve their problem, but don’t give many details on how you’ll do it.
- Call to action. Again, like a fiction book, you can add a final call-to-action to get people clicking that ‘add to cart’ button.
Step 4: Write Your Blurb Using Power Words and Keywords
When you’re at the writing stage of your book description, it is important to stick to the structure above. Also, make sure you add keywords and power words throughout. Having your keyword phrases in your blurb is an effective way of letting potential readers (and Amazon) know what your book is about. But don’t overdo it.
What I love about using keywords in my copy is that you’re using the exact language your potential readers are using when they’re searching for a book. You can use more than one keyword too. For example in ‘How to Write a Book’ the author is clearly using the keyword ‘how to write a book’ in his title. However, in the book description, he’s definitely also targeting the keyword ‘writing a book.’
Look to use your keywords in the ‘synopsis’ part of the fiction book structure, and the ‘explain the problem/solution’ parts of the non-fiction book structure.
When it comes to using power words, fiction writers should use them in their ‘selling paragraph’. Check out how many power words the author of the children’s book we looked at before uses in their selling paragraph!
It is important to use a variety of keywords and power words in your blurb, but as I said, you don’t want to go over the top. Think of it as the cherry on top and not the sundae itself.
Also, take the time to really get this step write. I’m a big fan of writing quickly and staying productive, but your book description is a selling tool that could pay dividends for years to come. Make sure you have a blurb you can be proud of before you wrap up.
Your book description is your book’s sales copy–if you’re convincing, you’ll sell more books, if it falls flat, you won’t. So, make sure you use a reliable approach to get those sales.
[Photo by Peter Ivey-Hansen on Unsplash]
I’m 34 years old and an 11 year veteran of the US Navy. I was also a military kid and so have lived in all corners of the globe. But that’s not what defines me. After my family, my real passion is books, but more specifically the new world of Kindle e-books. I’ve made a pretty decent side income out of them.
You could say ‘I have a certain set of skills’?
If I had to describe myself, I would start by saying I’m a husband and a father first and foremost. But when I am not playing dress up or chasing the Bogey Man out of the closet, I am an online entrepreneur specializing in Kindle e-book marketing.