By Karon Thackston. © All Rights Reserved
Does this sound familiar? You spend weeks or months creating an ebook. You organize… you categorize… you summarize. Finally, the book is converted and ready to upload to Amazon. With fingers crossed, you anxiously press the “publish” button. You’ve done it! You’ve just released the next #1 bestseller to the world. Or so you thought.
After a week, you have two sales. After a month… six. What’s the problem?
The information in your book is awesome. It’s well written and spot on. The topic is hot and gets a lot of searches on Amazon every day. You show readers the specifics of how to fix common problems that drive people crazy. You outline the five steps to overcoming the most annoying things life throws your way. You even give them the age-old secret to developing a life others will envy.
So why aren’t people buying? Chances are good that it’s because readers don’t have a clue what they will gain from your book.
How People Shop for Kindle Books
Think about your own experiences when buying Kindle books. If you’re like most people, you go to Amazon with a particular topic/problem/curiosity in mind. Since you’re shopping specifically for Kindle books, you type your search query into the box, select “Kindle Store” from the dropdown menu and click “Go.”
For our example, let’s use “internet marketing for beginners” as our search. Here’s what I’m seeing when I type in that phrase.
While the title catches the eye and builds interest, it isn’t likely to make sales for you all by itself. The title will get people to click, but what they find afterwards is the determining factor in whether your book sells or not.
What do you do next when you’re shopping? See if the book will give you what you want. And that’s where the most important sales tool at your disposal comes into play: your Amazon book/product description. (It is called both interchangeably, depending on where in the Amazon system you look.)
Most people click the title then immediately scroll down to read the book description. They want to know what the book offers before they spend their money and time to purchase and read the work.
Yes, at some point they will probably look at the total number of reviews and how the book ranks. They may even take time to read a few of the reviews. But none of that will matter if they first aren’t satisfied with what is written in the book description.
Bringing the Back to the Front
You’re writing essentially what would be the back cover copy of a traditional, paper book. Go to your bookshelf and pick up any book. Flip it over to the back cover and you’ll most likely see what I’m talking about.
These days, almost every paper book has back cover copy and/or testimonials/endorsements for the book. This is precisely what you want as your product/book description in Amazon.
The Formula for Writing Great Kindle Book Descriptions
Regardless of genre, a few things hold true when writing Kindle book descriptions. They must be enticing. They should make as much use of formatting as they do words. They need to leave the reader wanting more.
Here’s my formula for writing Kindle book descriptions for fiction and nonfiction books.
1. Create a “headline.”
Why a headline? A couple of reasons. First, jumping straight into the description leaves something lacking, in my opinion. For business-related books, your best bets will be “how to” or benefit-related statements. There are hundreds of ways you could go when writing a headline for your product description, but these two are very powerful options.
Here are a few of the headlines from the back covers of some books on my physical bookshelf. (Almost all of the books I own are business books.)
More than 3,500 words, phrases, and slogans guaranteed to hit your target with power and precision every time.
Attract Interest then Nail the Sale!
Build an Internet Marketing Strategy that Delivers
Run a Profitable Google AdWords Campaign!
Do you see how they instantly pique interest? I find using a headline with your book description works much better than a description alone.
2. Open with accolades.
When you state that your book is an Amazon bestseller (better yet, a #1 Amazon bestseller (if that is true)), is a New York Times bestseller, has sold over _____ copies, is newly revised, etc., then shoppers feel more confident about their purchases.
These are distinctions not every book can make. Stating these accolades offers an invitation for your readers to join an exclusive club of those who have made your book so popular.
I usually begin with the simple statement in the headline such as:
- “#1 Amazon Bestseller”
- “#1 Amazon Bestseller Unlocks the Secrets to….”
- “Amazon Bestseller for 16 Weeks Straight,” etc.
If you have no accolades (yet), create a headline like the examples I showed from the books I own.
3. Be elusive and mysterious.
The point of your Kindle book description isn’t to reveal everything about your book. The purpose is to engage readers and entice them into buying the book to answer a few questions. The words “this,” “these,” “it,” “that” and “here” can be vital tools in writing mysterious copy that begs shoppers to click that “buy” button.
As you write the summary of your book, structure your copy as incomplete sentences. (Yes, I know your high-school English teacher will be mad, but she’s not trying to sell books!) Here’s what I mean.
Instead of writing, “The night Angie’s father died after a long battle with cancer caused her to finally grow up and turn her life around,” say, “What happens on this night will be a pivotal point that changes Angie’s life forever.” Your reader is left asking him/herself, “What night? What happens? How does Angie’s life change?”
By leaving out key elements in your book description, you force a sense of (good) frustration in your customers. They almost need to know the information you’ve left out to answer the questions swimming around in their heads.
You can also write direct questions. “Will Angie’s father survive his yearlong health battle? Can she overcome the demons of her past or will she be tormented forever?” These also instill that same sense of frustration that drives people to buy.
You do not want to take the openhanded approach to a product/book description and lay everything out on the line like this… “After a yearlong battle with brain cancer, Angie’s father dies, leaving her to struggle with the demons of her past alone. She triumphs over her anxiety attacks and alcoholism, lands the guy of her dreams, finds a steady job she loves and lives happily ever after.”
Too much information. You’ve basically given readers the answer to every question. You’ve fully satisfied their frustration about what happens next. Now they have no reason to buy.
In part two of this series, I’ll give you the remainder of the tips including how to use formatting as well as social proof to your advantage.
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