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How to Write a Better Book Description: 5 Expert Self-Publishing Tips Revealed

Publishing, Marketing, & Writing Tips

This is the ONLY book description formula you'll ever need.

How to Write a Better Book Description: 5 Expert Self-Publishing Tips Revealed
Table of contents

On the surface, book descriptions might seem simple. How hard could it be to write a simple summary? The problem is that a simple summary won’t sell your book and won’t generate royalties that hit your bank account while you sleep. We know—we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re here to help! 

After working with thousands of first-time publishers all over the world, we’ve condensed everything we’ve learned about book descriptions into five expert tips to get readers so excited they won’t think twice about adding your book to their cart and checking out. It’s all in this blog post! 

Wanna know how to keep generating the best money-making ideas on the market? Head over to our free webinar and hear directly from people whose lives have completely changed thanks to self-publishing.

Step 1: Start with a Strong Headline

Here’s a little Copywriting 101. Each sentence in your book description should get the reader to WANT to keep reading all the way through. That means the headline is the most important piece. If you can’t hook readers with the headline, you’ve already lost the book sale, and they’re going to add your competitor’s book to their cart instead. So, how do you hook ‘em? 

These are two good examples of strong headlines we share inside our AIA Publishing Academy

1. Want To Build Your Wealth Through Real Estate Without the Headaches of Managing Properties? Then Keep Reading…

2. Build Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden At Home and Say Goodbye to Expensive Grocery Store Produce, Even If You’ve Never Gardened Before…

Notice how the headlines give you the WHO, WHAT, and WHY while still leaving you with some mystery, so you end up wanting to read further to figure out the HOW

Step 2: Write a Rockstar Lead 

The lead is directly below the headline and starts getting into the nitty gritty of what your book is actually about. It needs to demonstrate that the reader can trust you as a credible source on whatever subject your book is about. You accomplish this by making the reader feel seen and heard in their struggles. Whatever they’re dealing with, you want them to know they’re not alone and you can help. 

Of course, you can structure your lead however you want, but the ultimate Amazon book description hack we’ve found is to use questions. This gets the readers to start thinking more about something they’d like to change. 

Here are some examples we’ve shared with our students: 

● Do you suffer from constant digestive issues and stomach discomfort after meals?

● Are you struggling to stay alert and productive throughout the day due to low energy levels?

● Do you feel like you're missing out on the pleasures of life, constantly restricted by your sensitive stomach and unable to indulge in the foods and experiences you love?

Pro Tip: Notice how these questions also use a mix of logic and emotion to appeal to different audiences. Psychologists have proven time and again that humans are often more driven to avoid pain than to pursue pleasure. If you become aware of this pattern, you’ll start seeing it everywhere, from commercials to billboards. 

Step 3: Use a Reader-Friendly Format

Your readers are human. None of us like reading big walls of text. If you write the world’s biggest paragraph, all that’s going to do is make someone instantly zone out—even if the paragraph is chock-full of the secret to never aging. So, after the lead comes the bullet points. 

At this point in the book description, the readers feel seen and heard, and they’re even starting to trust you, but they might not be exactly sure what you can do for them. These bullet points will help you make the sale by teasing the specific information your readers absolutely NEED to make their lives better. 

Here are some more examples from our course: 

Here is just a fraction of what you will discover inside this book...

● How to build a raised bed garden box in less than 1 hour

● This soil mixture will make the difference between juicy fruits and vegetables—or stunted plant growth

● The best time to water your garden and prevent droopy plants

Notice how these bullet points touch on the timeframe that readers can expect their results and which kinds of results they can expect. We’ll build on this in the next section. 

Step 4: Anticipate the Readers’ Needs

Step 3 talks about making the sale, and with every sale, there are usually some objections. It’s just in our nature as humans to be skeptical, especially when our money is on the line. This is where you’ll meet the readers where they’re at and directly address their objections in your book description. 

You want to seal the deal on why your specific book is the best fit for them, despite any worries they may have. 

Check out some examples: 

1. We understand you may have a busy life and little-to-no time to care for plants, but that’s no reason why you can’t also enjoy the benefits of your own container garden. Inside, you’ll see how to choose beautiful, low-maintenance plants requiring minimal care. You’ll get a watering and fertilizing schedule that takes less than 10 minutes a week and fits around any lifestyle.

2. Unlike other guides that promote overly complex strategies filled with technical terminology... this book is designed specifically for anyone to understand. So, whether you’re already an Airbnb host or have just discovered how Airbnb works, you’ll have all the fundamental knowledge you need to start earning rental income on the side. But the choice is yours. You can keep wasting hours researching the best strategy for starting your Airbnb business...or take action now and transform your dreams of financial success into a reality.

There are a lot of really clever things to highlight here. These book descriptions tackle objections related to: 

  • Time (only 10 minutes a week)
  • Lifestyle (fits around any lifestyle) 
  • Competition (Unlike other guides…)
  • Complexity (anyone can understand this) 
  • Pushiness (the choice is yours) 

Step 5: Close It Out with a CTA

The close tells your readers exactly what action you want them to take next—buying your book right now! In the marketing world, you’ll hear this referred to as a “Call to Action” or CTA. 

Here are key elements to include in your CTA:

  • Urgency: Suggest immediate action to capitalize on the reader's current interest.
  • Relevance: Make sure your CTA is relatable to the reader's needs or curiosity aroused by your book description.
  • Visibility: Place your CTA prominently so it stands out from the rest of the text.

Here are some examples: 

If you want to relish the real farm-to-table experience, then scroll up and click the “Add to Cart” button now.

If you want to start your own successful candle business, then scroll up and click the “Add to Cart” button now.

If you want to live a life full of energy and vigor without costing you your savings, scroll up and click the “Add to Cart” button right now.

Pro Tip: The next step shouldn’t be a mystery! 

Formatting your Amazon KDP Book Description

Your description should be easily scannable and visually appealing to online shoppers.

Here are the best practices we teach our students: 

● Break up paragraphs into 1-2 sentences

● Use Heading formatting + bold type for the headline and the close

Bold the strongest bullets and phrases to make them stand out more 

Italicize when using quotes or writing the book title

For more specific guidelines, refer to KDP's format recommendations

Can I Change My Book Description on Amazon?

Yes, you can change your book description on Amazon, even after your book is published!

Your book description is considered part of your listing’s metadata, which will have an effect on the search results inside the Amazon platform when people are trying to find your book. If your description doesn’t have the right keywords, it might get lost on the 20th page of the search results, which means most readers will never scroll long enough to find it. This is why some self-publishers update their book descriptions if they’re seeing a lull in their royalties and book sales. 

Here's how you can do it:

  1. Log in to your KDP account.
  2. Navigate to your Bookshelf and find the book you want to update.
  3. Click on the book's title to access the details page.
  4. Scroll down to the "Book Content" section.
  5. Edit the description in the provided field.
  6. Submit the changes for them to go live. 

When writing your new description, prioritize making it:

  • Simple: Keep to a brief layout, aiming for around 150 words.
  • Clear: Avoid industry jargon or complicated language.
  • Enticing: Engage readers with the main ideas without overwhelming them.

Pro Tip: The changes typically take 24 to 72 hours to reflect on the Amazon book listing.

How Can I Summarize My Book for Potential Readers Without Giving Away Spoilers?

If you stick to the five-step framework we shared above, your description will raise questions that motivate the readers to read the book for answers without giving everything away up front. This is especially true if you can paint the picture of what their life would be like with and without the book. 

What would they miss out on if they didn’t buy this book right now? 

Non-fiction Book Description Examples

The non-fiction book description examples we’re going to share here don’t necessarily follow our five-step framework, but there’s a reason for that! Established publishers and celebrity authors don’t play by the same rules. 

When Tony Robbins or Tina Fey publish a book, it’s automatically going to be bought by fans regardless of how the book description is formatted or written based on their celebrity status and reputation. This is why emulating celebrities isn’t always a good idea. 

This section will give you an idea of the different mechanisms people use across Amazon’s KDP, but the five-step framework will be your best bet! 

Quotations Example

In The Mastery of Love, don Miguel Ruiz illuminates the fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in our relationships. Using insightful stories to bring his message to life, Ruiz shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, recover the freedom and joy that are our birthright, and restore the spirit of playfulness that is vital to loving relationships.

The Mastery of Love includes:

• Why "domestication" and the "image of perfection" lead to self-rejection

• The war of control that slowly destroys most relationships

• Why we hunt for love in others, and how to capture the love inside us

• How to finally accept and forgive ourselves and others

"Happiness can only come from inside of you and is the result of your love. When you are aware that no one else can make you happy, and that happiness is the result of your love, this becomes the greatest mastery of the Toltec: the Mastery of Love." — don Miguel Ruiz

Social-Proof Example

#1 New York Times bestseller

“Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society.” —Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.

Bullet Points Example

The #1 New York Times bestseller. Over 15 million copies sold!

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

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Learn how to:

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Expert Tips from an Expert Publishing Coach 

Hear from a Publishing.com veteran who has been publishing for more than 5 years and has over 30 books under his belt. This interview with Cody reveals all of the greatest nuggets of wisdom he’s collected throughout his publishing journey: 

Can’t get enough? Our Student Success Hub is filled with personal stories of triumph from moms, grandmas, retired professors, dancers, and even scuba divers who never thought they’d experience the freedom of income and time that self-publishing has awarded them. 

When you’re ready, there are two ways we can help.

The Appetizer: A Free Webinar Packed with Self-Publishing Testimonials and Tips 

Hear directly from Christian, one of The Mikkelsen Twins, who opens up about how he and his brother got started publishing in the first place. Spoiler alert: They didn’t want to work in a warehouse or be a delivery driver their whole lives and needed to find a way out ASAP. 

You’ll also hear how self-publishing can save lives, potentially helping you pay for a family emergency in cash when the worst happens. This isn’t clickbait, as crazy as it sounds. 

Check out the webinar here!

The Buffet: All-You-Can-Eat Self-Publishing Tips Broken Down Into Bite-Size Modules 

Need something a little more filling? The AI Publishing Academy might be more your speed. 

-Tired of having to request a day off to relax? 

-Tired of looking forward to one week of vacation every year? 

-Just plain TIRED all the time? 

The modules cover everything from: 

  • Finding the MOST profitable ideas on the market waiting to be tapped 
  • Putting together a solid book outline that sets your book up for success
  • Finding the right ghostwriter to help you bring your manuscript to life 
  • Launching and marketing your book 
  • Creating a passive income machine that brings in royalties round-the-clock 

You could publish your first book this year…or spend another five years dreaming about it. 

See what we did there? ;) 

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