The concept is simple: if would-be readers do not know what your book is about, they aren’t going to buy. Now, some readers hear about your book through word-of-mouth or through book reviews, and that might be enough to entice them. However, your primary method of marketing continues to be descriptions that are provided by you or your editor, and those descriptions cannot be a one-size-fits-all product. They need to be tailored to the medium, and one of the most important mediums is Amazon.com.
The Power of Amazon
We all know Amazon is a powerhouse for book sales. More and more, buyers are turning to this Internet juggernaut rather than brick-and-mortar stores for books (not to mention a host of other products). One of the reasons is the rise of the electronic book, a cheaper and sometimes more convenient method of reading than a traditional paper copy. Even if a physical book is ultimately purchased from a local seller, many buyers have already scoped it out online, probably on Amazon.
Moreover, Goodreads uses Amazon’s descriptions, and many online catalogs use Goodreads, so a poor description on Amazon has can have a lot of negative repercussions. How do we make sure we’re putting our best foot forward on Amazon?
The 100-Word Book Description for Amazon
Amazon allows for lengthy book descriptions, and you should take advantage of that. However, It does not treat the entire description equally. Only the first 100 words or so are initially displayed. If you want to read past that, you’re going to have to click a “read more” link.
Internet readers have notoriously short attention spans. Every additional click needed to get to your information makes it less likely to be read. So those first 100 words are crucial in enticing people to buy your book or to at least click that little link for more information.
Forget being clever. Those 100 words need to powerfully convey the meat of your book, letting people know exactly what they are getting and why they should be interested in it. This means not only putting your important material first, but also condensing it as tightly as possible to include the most tantalizing information.
Past that, you’ll want to immediately provide the second most important information: the stuff you want them to see, but isn’t quite vital enough to go into those first 100 words. This is the first thing the reader will see if he clicks to read more. Don’t presume he will read the entire description; remember, this is short attention span theater. Unfold your book description from the most important to least important information.
The principles of SEO (Search-Engine Optimization) work on Amazon just like other websites. If someone is doing a search, whether on Amazon or a search engine like Google (which will likely return possibilities on Amazon), their results are going to be weighed by keywords.
The most important keywords will be in your title, so you may want to keep that in mind when naming the book: make sure it solidly conveys its content. Past that, search engines are going to look for those searched words in your description, so think about what your target audience will likely be searching for and, if possible, use them repeatedly.
Before your book is published, try out potential keywords. Do they bring up books that are similar to yours? If so, great. If not, consider different keywords. Continue testing keywords after your book is listed on Amazon, seeing what phrases bring your book closer to the top of the list. Then, emphasize those phrases in your book description.
Reference Similar Books and Writers
In your book similar to a well-known one? Don’t be afraid to drop names. It helps readers know that if they like one book, they will likely like yours as well, and when someone searches for that author on Amazon, your book may also be listed.
No matter how much you focus on keywords and placement of information, don’t forget that people will, in fact, be reading your book description on Amazon. To that end, make it compelling.
You book description is the first (and frequently only) impression potential readers will get of your book before they buy. As such, it’s vitally important to get that description in front of them through search engine results and then provide solid info that will encourage their interest and leave them wanting more.