Sunday, 14 October 2018

Getting your book description right - Two examples


Let’s take a look at the keywords and descriptions of two best-selling ebooks

Here’s what a reader would see if they looked at Amazon’s page for ‘My Sister's Grave’ by Robert Dugoni which on 18th October 2016 was number 6 in Amazon’s best seller list.
Would that description inspire you to click the ‘Read more’ link? No? I wouldn’t either. Checking I found the full description was 778 characters, none of the nine keywords the book uses are in the description. Eight of them are Amazon categories but one ‘United States’ isn’t and seems rather pointless ('US' might have been a better choice).  I suspect this ebook appears in Amazon’s top listings because of the reputation of the author (Ranked #40 at Amazon at the time of writing) and because of the publisher paying to have it promoted. If I was the author, I would be upset at the publisher (Thomas & Mercer) for doing so little. You can see Amazon’s top 100 authors at:      https://www.amazon.com/author-rank#1

My second example is ‘A Shade of Vampire’ by Bella Forrest. Here’s what you would see before that ‘Read more’ link:
Notice the use of bold text? You can use limited HTML to do this in a description. Notice also the writer has appealed to Twilight, The Mortal Instruments and Vampire diaries fans also. Be careful here that you don’t mention other author’s names or copyright items since this is likely to get your book a lower ranking. In this case, especially since the description stops mid-sentence, I would read on.
This time the description is 3,070 characters long and includes short review statements. Bella Forrest appears to be self-published. She uses 17 keywords/tags. Here’s how she uses them:
·         One appears in the title (vampire)
·         Romance and fantasy are keywords used in the description
·         Romance, vampire, werewolves, shifters, coming of age, romantic, angels, ghosts, psychics are compulsory keywords for specific Amazon categories
·         Werewolves & Shifters, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Paranormal & Urban, Teen & Young Adult, Demons & Devils, Witches & Wizards, Paranormal & Fantasy are Amazon categories
Seems to me Bella Forrest has done a pretty good job of her keywords and description.
No description is ever perfect though so it’s always worth revisiting and tweaking the next time you produce a new book edition. This is what Bella Forest's description looks like now:
It's certainly worth mentioning those extra 2 million sales and the 5-star reviews but that extra text has pushed out of visibility 'she cannot wake. A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale' It's still effective though but perhaps that blank line could have been made narrower using embedded styles in the HTML Unfortunately Amazon allows none of that 'clever stuff' in their author HTML Only the following tags are allowed:
HTML Tag
Description
<b> Formats enclosed text as bold. Use: <b>This text will be bold</b>
<br> Creates a line break. Use: <br>
This text is forced to the next line
<em> Emphasises the enclosed text; generally formatted as italic.Use: Normal text <em>emphasised text</em>
<font> Determines the appearance of the enclosed text. Use: It is possible to use <font face="Courier New, Courier, monospace">a different choice of font</font>
<h1> to <h6> Formats enclosed text as a section heading: <h1> (largest) through <h6> (smallest). Use:
<h1>This is heading 1</h1>

<i> Formats enclosed text as italic. Use: <i>italic text</i>
<li> Identifies an item in an ordered (numbered) or unordered (bulleted) list. Use: See <ol> and <ul>
<ol> Creates a numbered list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag. Use:
<ol>
<li>This is first</li>
<li>This is second</li>
<li >This is third</li>
</ol>
This produces:
  1. This is first
  2. This is second
  3. This is third
<p> Defines a paragraph of text with the first line indented; creates a line break at the end of the enclosed text. Use:
<p>This is some text which you want displayed in a paragraph. This paragraph is not very interesting but then… maybe I should tell you about the next book I'm writing. It's about time travel.</p>
<p>Nope - you don't want to hear about that. This is the next paragraph.</p>
This produces:

This is some text which you want displayed in a paragraph. This paragraph is not very interesting but then… maybe I should tell you about the next book I'm writing. It's about time travel.

Nope - you don't want to hear about that. This is the next paragraph.
<pre> Defines preformatted text. Use:
<pre>Here's an example of preformatted text. It's usually monospaced.</pre>
<s> Formats text as strikethrough. See also, <strike>.
<strike> Formats text as strikethrough. See also, <s>. Use: <strike>this text is struck out</strike
<strong> Formats enclosed text as bold. See also, <b>.
<sub> Formats enclosed text as subscript: reduces the font size and drops it below the baseline. Use H<sub>2</sub>O which produces H2O
<sup> Formats enclosed text as superscript: reduces the font size and places it above the baseline. Use: πr<sup>2</sup> which produces πr2
<u> Formats enclosed text as underlined. Use: <u>This text will be underlined</u>
<ul> Creates a bulleted list from enclosed items, each of which is identified by a <li> tag.
. Use:
<ul>
<li>This is first</li>
<li>This is second</li>
<li >This is third</li>
</u>
This produces:
  • This is first
  • This is second
  • This is third
NOT Allowed HTML/CSS <div> <span> and any CSS

Extra keywords

Did you notice that I said both examples of book descriptions used more than the seven keywords Amazon allows you to use? That is possible if you produce an epub book with meta tags and use that as the source document at Amazon. They will still expect you to submit up to seven keywords but also appear to use the extra ones you put in epub meta tags.

Description content

Now - what about the content of your book description? The first five lines of it are by far the most important. In those five lines of text you must capture enough of the readers interest to make them want to click that 'Read more.' Work at those five lines. Use power words - words that have great emotional impact. Above all leave the reader on a cliffhanger where they have to find out what comes next. Try putting the sentences through a headline check - there's a good one at https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer Try and get a score of 60+ for each sentence.

Keywords

Book descriptions are searched by Amazon for keywords other than the seven they ask for. Try including more keywords in your description to capture those people who search for books like yours but not with your chosen keywords.  There's an art to choosing keywords and if you have only seven, chosen in ten minutes when you came across that section of KDP, then you haven't understood that art yet, But that's the subject of a 'Getting your keywords right' blog.

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