How to Write an Amazon Book Description That Sells

Frankly I don’t like it. I’ve seen hundreds of amazon books, and every description sounds exactly the same. The same choice of words, the same structure, there are always questions thrown in the mix as well. Thanks to that, instead of showing the style of the novel, the description is just a plain template. It’s fine for new readers, but for someone who has seen a lot, it start becoming boring and discourages from reading these books. I am still wondering if one person is responsible for every single book description in amazon. And seeing: "just like Harry Potter", "another Lord of the Right" is not encouraging. P.S. Sorry for my rant, this is the first article that came into my radar

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How to Craft the Perfect Amazon Book Description

I was catching up with my friend the other day. He just got back from a huge trip to South East Asia and he was telling me about his adventures, the parties, and the delicious food.

“One day I was walking down the street and a restaurant smelled so good I had to go inside. They handed me a menu, and what do I see in big bolded letters on the first page? “ Fried Crap!”. I didn’t eat there.”

As an author, it’s your job to make sure your readers get excited about your book. You need to set the stage properly that triggers their emotions, leaving them eager to buy and start reading.

See, sometimes people are going to buy your book without thinking much. Sometimes they’re just going to stumble upon your book randomly and want to try it out, just like my friend and the Cambodian restaurant.

Now, I’ll be honest. Until summer 2015, I didn’t pay much attention to my Amazon book descriptions. I just provided a quick summary, copied and pasted something from my conclusion, and called it a day. Amazon descriptions can be up to 4,000 characters (usually around 600-700 words), and I kept mine under 2,000 characters.

Then, I realized my mediocre Amazon descriptions probably weren’t helping my book sales, rather they were hurting them. In late October 2015, one of my books became a #1 best seller. I doubt that ever could have happened with a lousy description…

The Headline: Hook readers in

Amazon only displays the first few lines of your product description, meaning you have very limited space to capture a reader’s attention enough to click on your book and find out more. That’s the role of the headline: if a reader’s attention isn’t grabbed straight off the bat, then you’ve already lost them.

Having an effusive and descriptive pull quote for your first line is really effective, and you’ll see the technique used time and again by bestsellers and newcomers alike. Whether your reviews are editorial or reader reviews from Amazon or Goodreads, add them into your description. Word-of-mouth recommendations are great conversion tools.

However, if you don’t have any suitable reviews or sales stats to speak of (yet), make sure that your first sentence features a snappy, irresistible hook. The key to a good headline is to include keywords that people on the hunt for their next read will immediately recognize. This could be:


Here’s an example of a self-publishing author using social validation to hook readers in. “The million-selling series starts here,” it says, letting readers know that these books are really popular.

Not only is it a quote from an internationally-renowned newspaper, it highlights Mark Dawson’s central marketing message: “If you like Jack Reacher, you’ll also like my John Milton books.” Just look at Mark’s cover designs and you’ll see that this Reacher connection is no coincidence.

You might be thinking that as a budding author, you don’t have a ton of accolades to start with. No problem! You can still give readers something to latch on to: perhaps an evocative tagline or a punchy story hook. Your aim is to appeal to fans of your genre, so browse through the bestselling books in your category and see how they go about capturing a reader’s attention. Here’s our own made-up headline:

What Your Amazon Book Description Has to Do

So, OK, your book description has to push people into hitting that “Look Inside” feature. That’s the step which defines success. But how do you actually accomplish that goal? How do you write Amazon book descriptions that really sell the book and compel the reader?

So let’s say, like me, you are a crime novelist. I’m going to assume that you’ve set your keywords and categories correctly. (Not sure about them? Check here for guest blogger, Dave Gaughran’s super-expert guide.)

They want to find themselves trapped in a place, where the only way out is to read your book. (And they probably need to be nudged towards that course of action.)

So how exactly do you do it? How do you nudge the reader to set out on a book-length journey with you . . . when you only have maybe 150 words to convince them to take the trip?

Amazon Kindle Rankings E-Book

Dave, I keep hearing about HTML and it scares the life out of me. Are we supposed to learn it? I can’t imagine how. Surely, I can publish my book description in Word? Thanks.

Wow. Just WOW. This was stupendously helpful. My book has been up on Amazon since January (with a February launch). I had no idea what I was doing and had to make do with what I could manage to not have look messed up in my description (a much abbreviated and formless thing). NOW I finally thought to look up the html code. Of COURSE I found it here on Kindlepreneur. (Insert forehead smacking!) Why didn’t I look here ages ago?? My new description is UP and looks just like I wanted it to six months ago. THANK YOU SO MUCH DAVE. And go Red Sox!! 😀

Hi Dave
I am new in this publishing space and trying to set up my Amazon KDP account. Why do i need to convert to html for book description when using word? i am a bit confused.
Thank you

When you are entering your book description into KDP, it used to be that you had to enter the description in html if you wanted any kind of special formatting. Though that might have changed recently. Let me check on that. We may need to modify the generator.

More Book Description Best Practices

1. Mindset Shift: It’s an Ad, Not a Summary

Don’t think of the book description as a synopsis. So many authors want to put everything about their book in this section. Resist that urge (you can do that with book blurbs, which are a different thing).

It’s an advertisement. An elevator pitch. Think of it like a verbal book trailer for your book. It’s designed to make people want to read your book. You want them to feel a call to action to buy it.

2. Use Compelling Keywords

For example, if Sports Illustrated does a book you’d want to not only say Sports Illustrated Magazine but also mention the names of the A-list athletes in the book.

3. Keep It Short

4. Simple Writing

Keep the writing simple. Use short, clear sentences. You don’t want anyone to struggle to comprehend what you’re trying to convey because you’ve strung too many ideas together in one long run-on sentence.

5. Write as the Publisher, Not the Author

This will probably be obvious to you, but the book description should always be in a third person objective voice, and never your author voice. It is always written as someone else describing your book to potential customers.

6. No Insecurity

Don’t compare your book to other books. I see this all the time, and all it does is make the book (and the author) immediately look inferior. Plus, a reader may hate the book you are comparing yourself to and you’ll lose them.

7. Don’t Insist on Doing it Yourself

They’re too close to the material and too emotionally invested. If this is the case, we recommend either asking a friend to help, or going to a professional editor or even better—a professional copywriter—for assistance.