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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

What Makes a Great Amazon Book Description


As a tech behemoth, Amazon is no doubt one of, if not the country's largest retailer in book sales, so a great book description is key to attracting customers. Essentially, a book description is a marketing and sales tool that attracts potential customers to make a purchase. The cover and description of the book are both bait, hook and line that reel customers in to influence their purchasing decision.

It is important to remember that customers have already most likely decided on which particular book to buy which is why there's a large chance that they might skip reading a certain book's description, but customers are always looking forward to next great read, which is why the description has to be enticing and has to spark interest in order to make them want to know more. So let's break down the elements of what makes an Amazon book description a great one for both fiction and non-fiction.


Because we are writing for the internet, readers have shorter attention spans so the first two sentences that you'll ever write is critical because those are the only sentences that potential customers might ever read. The goal for the hook is to get them click the "Read more" button.

A common and instant approach the use of social validation which is a key concept affecting online influence, popularity, as well as a product's brand positioning and online presence.

The basic premise is that the more people talk about a product, the more others join them. It's the reason why we are more inclined to look up reviews of a certain product in order to make sure that we won't be wasting our money when we make the purchase. It "validates" the product, and when done effectively, it can create a hype that can result into an online following, and this is true for any product that is sold online.

This is where writing a headline for a book description comes into play. You can start off with using lines such as "From The New York Times Bestselling author…" and "If you like books about true crime, you'll also like…" Now, the reason why this approach is so effective is because it lets people know that the writer is someone who has a gained critical acclaim from a credible and well-known source, and it gives the reader validation by saying that if they like books within the same genre or the same category, then they're in the right place by making this selection.

Another approach, also under the concept of social validation, is to pull from testimonials from credible sources. Here a couple of examples from Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

  • "Unique and fascinating… it's like a blast of cold, fresh air to read." - Chicago Tribune
  • "A blazing literary sensation… a dark-hearted thriller." - Vanity Fair
  • "Gripping…Lisbeth Salander… is one of the most original characters in a thriller to come in a long while. " - Michiko Kakuntani, The New York Times

Notice that not only are the sources credible and well-known, the testimonials also hint at the theme and genre of the novel, and name-drops its hero character. These testimonials also give audiences a sense of what they can expect from the book.

You can also use the writer's background and credentials. What kind of writer are they? Have they won any awards? Are they an expert in a particular field? What else have they written about? Do they have insights about the subject that the book discusses that can't be found anywhere else?


The body of the description is basically a quick summary that gives readers a quick preview of the story without giving too much away. Introduce the main characters, their goals, the conflict– allowing them to peek into the world of the story. Or in the case of most non-fiction, the writer's background. The body should answer "What is the basic premise of the story?" or the backbone of the story, and "What will it do for the reader?" What is the emotional payoff that readers will get when they experience the story? Here are couple of snippets from examples for both fiction and non-fiction:

It's about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance… and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves.

Notice that even though the reader hasn't heard of this series before, they can still quickly gather the genre, the main characters, the basic plot of the story, and a preview of the story world. It also uses keywords associated with the thriller genre such as investigation, terrifying, unexpected, and disappearance.

Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with first hand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. Often with day-by-day details, dialogue and documentation, Fear tracks key foreign issues from North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East, NATO, China and Russia. It reports in-depth on Trump's key domestic issues particularly trade and tariff disputes, immigration, tax legislation, the Paris Climate Accord and the racial violence in Charlottesville in 2017.

Fear presents vivid details of the negotiations between Trump's attorneys and Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Russia investigation, laying out for the first time the meeting-by-meeting discussions and strategies. It discloses how senior Trump White House officials joined together to steal draft orders from the president's Oval Office desk so he would not issue directives that would jeopardize top secret intelligence operations.

When it comes to non-fiction, it is also helpful to include the writer's background, but moreover, the methods used by the writer in gathering the information that's in the book. in the case of Woodward's Fear: Trump in the White House, the body gives the action an overview of which parts of the Trump presidency the book covers. Because the subject matter for most non-fiction is extremely broad, the body of the book description helps narrow down the specifics of the subject.

It is also keyword integrated using words such as first hand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, immediately telling you that the book is a biography.


Don't be afraid to use ALL-CAPS as well as BOLD and ITALIC letters to your advantage. With all the work that you're putting into the headline and the body of the description, you might as well top it off with something that's going to immediately grab the attention of the audience.

There are tons of other factors that affect sales such as metadata and search engine optimization (SEO), where you take a bunch of popular genre keywords and integrate them into your description, but at the end of the day, writing an effective book description is really about telling an audience why the book is for them. It might take a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but if you've managed to utilize these elements to answer that question, then that's a job well done.

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