One of the most essential pieces in the author marketing toolbox is the book description. This third-person account of the book is the billboard with which you draw the reader in and don’t let them go. With only 150-250 words and one to three paragraphs on the back cover, you’ll detail the underlying premise for the book that’s so compelling, it can’t be ignored.

Feature your book description in your pre-book launch social media posts, emails, blogs (guest blogs), and interviews. You can also use it to pre-sell books and garner pre-launch book reviews. As you publish a book, you’ll use it on your Amazon sales page (among others), in press releases, book launches, and other book event announcements, as well as for promoting during speaking opportunities. It is a powerful marketing tool before, during, and after you publish a book.

There are two main functions for an optimized book description. The first is so readers will buy it, and the second is so search engines will find it. Let me explain.

Your book description is not a synopsis of your book; it’s sales copy. Regardless of whether you sell books or shoes or exotic island vacations, successful copy follows a similar format. The description lays out the main pain point the reader faces and how your book provides the solution. The reader should have just enough information to lean in and beg for more.

But before a reader ever sees your book page, you need to compel search engines to find it. Appropriately placed keywords and keyword phrases are search engine magnets. Include phrases someone might use to find your book in the description, like “cozy murder mystery” or “how to lose weight” so the search engine, whether that’s Google or Amazon, can call your book forward to catch the eye of a reader.

Let’s get to the details of a successful book description.

Hook

The hook pops off the page and compels readers to keep reading. It can be a headline or a teaser, but it should be bold. Several things can make for a compelling opening sentence.
• Best-seller, award-winning, or number of books sold
• Social proof reviews or media proof, like Kirkus or NetGalley reviewers
• Compare similar books or ask an engaging question
• A provocative set-up

Problem

If your book is nonfiction, introduce the problem for the reader. You may draw them in by describing their struggle, obstacle, or frustration or lure them with hope and desire. Even if your book is fiction, they are looking for the book they can’t put down. It’s a problem to choose one they’ll like!

Solution

Once you’ve identified the problem, show them how your book is the solution. Give them insights into what and how you solve their problem. It could be a binge-worthy series or a book that’s unputdownable.

Credibility

If you’re uniquely qualified to write the book or you’ve helped people using your solution, you can mention it here.

Plot/Character Description/Setting

If it is a work of fiction, peek into a few juicy details in the book. Make them fall in love or care for the protagonist or be intrigued by the guile of the villain. Transport the reader into your setting and leave clues about the plot without revealing too much.

Emotional Payoff

Let them know how they’ll feel while they read it or once they’re done. Will they be thrilled, relieved, happier, healthier, or more hopeful? Will they happily sleep at their desk the next day because they stayed up all night reading it? That’s a book worth reading!

Call to Action or Cliff Hanger

Even if you don’t specifically invite them to buy your book, your last sentence invites them to be part of your tribe. Get them to the edge of their seats and then leave them hanging in suspense.

More Book Description Tips

On the blog Books and Such, Mary Keeley encourages authors to use active verbs in the hook along with strong nouns.

Read lots of descriptions of best-selling books in your category. Taste the flavor of them and then make it your own. Even if your book isn’t a bestseller or you haven’t won prestigious awards, you can still find the essence of compelling book descriptions.

Whether your goal for the book is to make money, spread your message, or have an impact on people, readers want to know your book is worth their money…AND time. They are investing in you, so you want to invest time in writing a winning book description.

Write a longer book description for your Amazon sales page and your Amazon Author Central page. You can also use an extended description in a press release during your launch or whenever your book coincides with a current event.

Book Description Examples

Choose. 
By Ryan Levesque

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What type of business should you start?

For the past 10 years, Inc. 500 CEO and #1 national best-selling author, Ryan Levesque–featured for his work in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, and Entrepreneur–has guided thousands of entrepreneurs through the journey of answering this question.

One of the biggest reasons why so many new businesses fail is because in the quest to decide what business to start, most of the conventional wisdom is wrong. 

Instead of obsessing over what–as in what should you sell or what should you build–you should first be asking who. As in who should you serve? 

The what is a logical question that will come soon enough. But choosing your who is the foundation from which all other things are built.

That is what this book is all about.

If you’ve ever had the dream to start your own business, become your own boss, or do your own thing–but have been afraid to take the leap and screw up your already good life–this book is for you.

You will find the meticulously tested, step-by-step process outlined in the book is easy to follow, despite being the result of a decade of research and experience. This process, designed to minimize your risk of failure and losing money up front, coupled with the inspiring stories of everyday people who have used this process to launch successful businesses, will not only give you clarity on what type of business to start, but also the confidence to finally take that leap and get started.

Where the Crawdads Sing
By Delia Owens

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#1 New York Times Bestseller

A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

“I can’t even express how much I love this book! I didn’t want this story to end!”–Reese Witherspoon

“Painfully beautiful.”–The New York Times Book Review

“Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver.”–Bustle

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Shadowspell Academy: The Culling Trials 
By Shannon Mayer and K.F. Breene

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“This book is Harry Potter meets the Hunger Games in a bold twist on a classic magical young adult adventure.” 
~ Jaymin Eve, Bestselling Author of Supernatural Academy
 

You Don’t Choose The Academy. The Academy Chooses You. 

I had no idea how those words would change my life. Or how they’d changed my life already…

Until the day the most dangerous man I’ve ever met waltzed onto my farm and left us a death sentence.

In an invitation.

My younger brother has been chosen for the prestigious, secret magical school hidden within the folds of our mundane world. A place so dangerous, they don’t guarantee you’ll make it out alive. 

If he doesn’t go our entire family will be killed. 

It’s the same invitation my older brother received three years ago—the same place he mysteriously died. 

The academy has already killed one sibling. I’ll be damned if they take another.

I do the only thing an older sister can: chop off my hair, strap on two bras to flatten the girls, and take my brother’s place. 

Magic and monsters are real. Assassins are coming for me, and the dead are prone to rise. What’s a girl faking it as a boy supposed to do? That’s right—beat the academy at its own game. 

Or die trying.

Work

By James Suzman

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“This book is a tour de force.” — Adam Grant,New York Timesbestselling author ofGive and Take

A revolutionary new history of humankind through the prism of work by leading anthropologist James Suzman


Work defines who we are. It determines our status, and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth andmolds our values. But are we hard-wired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live? And what might a world where work plays a far less important role look like?

To answer these questions, James Suzman charts a grand history of “work” from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present, challenging some of our deepest assumptions about who we are. Drawing insights from anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics, he shows that while we have evolved to find joy meaning and purpose in work, for most of human history ourancestors worked far less and thought very differently about work than we do now. He demonstrates how our contemporary culture of work has its roots in the agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago.Our sense of what it is to be human was transformed by the transition from foraging to food production, and, later, our migration to cities. Since then, our relationships with one another and with our environments, and even our sense of the passage of time, have not been the same.

Arguing that we are in the midst of a similarly transformative point in history, Suzman shows how automation might revolutionize our relationship with work and in doing so usher in a more sustainable and equitable future for our world and ourselves.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love
By Dani Shapiro

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 

“A gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family.” —Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach

From the acclaimed, best-selling memoirist and novelist—“a writer of rare talent” (Cheryl Strayed)—a memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy test: an exploration of the urgent ethical questions surrounding fertility treatments and DNA testing, and a profound inquiry of paternity, identity, and love.

What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?   

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history–the life she had lived–crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is a book about secrets–secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in–a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.

True Intent
By Michael Stagg

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When a billionaire dies, an innocent woman is blamed. One lawyer must fight a wealthy family for justice.

It seems straightforward to attorney Nate Shepherd – a middle-aged billionaire dies while celebrating at a wedding reception. The grief-stricken family lashes out, though, blaming the billionaire’s date for his death. When the family brings all of its power to bear, the wheels of local justice threaten to overwhelm the woman.

As Nate Shepherd steps in to defend her, he tries to deflect the misplaced anger that’s directed at the woman for the tragedy. But as the investigation progresses, a tangled history unravels, including unexpected ties to Nate’s own life. And with each secret that is uncovered, the stakes rise until Nate finds himself fighting for the woman’s freedom in a trial for her life.

Can Nate Shepherd protect an innocent client from a family trying to buy its own brand of justice?

True Intent is the second book in the gripping Nate Shepherd Legal Thriller series. If you like razor-sharp dialogue, iron-willed characters, and slippery moral quandaries, then you’ll love Michael Stagg’s fierce court-room drama.

BuyTrue Intent and step into the courtroom today!

Turbulent
By T.L. Payne

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In an instant, everything stops.No lights. No phones. No transportation.

When coordinated EMP and Cyber attacks wipe out the nation’s power grid and communications, ultra marathon runner, Maddie Langston, is forced to run for her life.

Stranded in a Chicago airport when the lights go out, Maddie is in a race against time. According to her father, she doesn’t have long before the city descends into chaos. She must leave the airport before it is too late.

Although she knows she must flee the Windy City, Maddie’s first battle is to overcome her fear of the violence she knows is coming. She’s a fighter; she just doesn’t know it yet.

The perilous journey out of the city becomes even more difficult when Maddie takes responsibility for an orphaned ten-year-old girl. Together, as chaos fills the streets, they must fight to survive in a Turbulent new world.

Would you have what it takes to survive?

This heart-stopping post-apocalyptic thriller is the first book in T. L. Payne’s Days of Want Series.

Get it Now!

Formatting on Amazon

You may have noticed that each of these book descriptions contains bold, and other formatting. Kindle Direct Publishing and IngramSpark don’t offer easy formatting buttons, so you’ll have to employ some techie back-end magic. You don’t need to be able to program an app to make it happen—just a few easy HTML tricks to get your description looking great. 

PARAGRAPH – Use <p> at the beginning of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph. 

BOLD — Use <b> prior to your sentence (or word) and </b> after the sentence (or word).

UNDERLINE — Use <u> prior to the word or words you want underlined and </u> immediately after. 

BULLETS — For each item in your list, use <ul> at the beginning of the point and </ul> at the end of the individual bullet point. 

For example:

<p><b>Will Harry and Sally ever kiss?</b></p>

<p>A suspenseful and romantic tale of forbidden love.</p>

<ul>Captivating</ul>

<ul>Engrossing</ul>

That will look like this:

Will Harry and Sally ever kiss?

A suspenseful and romantic tale of forbidden love.

  • Captivating
  • Engrossing

It will only take a few extra keystrokes to create a standout description. 

Conclusion

Your book description is the sales copy for your book whether it resides on Amazon, other booksellers’ websites, on your website, at book signings, or wherever your book lives. Research well-written book descriptions in your genre to get the feel and tone of each. Discover what captures your attention and makes you want to read the book. Your book description deserves time and attention to make it worthy of the book it represents. 

More Resources

https://jerichowriters.com/amazon-book-descriptions-sell/

https://scribewriting.com/write-book-description/

https://www.ingramspark.com/blog/how-to-write-a-good-book-description

Share your book description with us to see if you can compel our readers!

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