1. Business
  2. Sales

How to Write an eBook Description that Sells

This post is part of a series called Profiting with Business eBooks.
How to Choose Keywords and Categories for Your Kindle eBook
How to Promote Your Self-Published eBook on Social Media

Entrepreneurs write books to be sold. Whether the aim of your book is to develop new leads for your business or to turn a profit, your ultimate goal is the same: sell as many books as possible.

You'll only sell books if people want to read your book. The more people you convince to read your book, the more copies you'll sell.

What makes a person want to read a nonfiction book? It's relevant or helpful to them. How do people find out if a book will help them? They'll look at the book's reviews and description. If they're intrigued by these, they may flick through the book before they make a purchase.

Arguably, reviews are the first factor readers consider when deciding whether to buy a book. However, your book description is also important. It's what will sell your first copies before you get any reviews. And it gives readers a taste of what's inside the book, so they'll know whether they want the full meal.

Amazon, the biggest publisher of ebooks, and likely the primary marketplace you'll use to sell your ebook, puts it this way:

Your book description is what customers see as they shop the Kindle store. Think of it like the inside flap of a hardcover book. The description is a reader's first experience with the content of your book. A well-written description assures readers that the book itself is of similar quality.

As you're selling an eBook, readers can't flick through your book before they buy. However, on Amazon they can Look Inside and read the introduction, or download a sample to their Kindle. This means the opening section of your pack plays a vital role in clinching the sale.

In this tutorial, I'll guide you through the process of writing an effective description for a nonfiction business book. I'll also look at what to include in the opening section of your book.

A well-written book description will grab readers and make them feel your book is a must-read. They'll be desperate to find out what's inside.

Tutorial Assets

To complete this tutorial, you will need:

  • an ebook
  • notetaking software or an ebook reader

1. Get to Know Your eBook

You've likely spent weeks or months writing and editing your book. You know it intimately, inside out and upside down. You can probably quote some sections off the top of your head.

You know your book as a writer. Now it's time to get familiar with your book through the eyes of a salesperson. You're looking for your book's assets that make it most salable. Of course, you don't want to give away these assets, but you want to make readers aware they're there.

Step 1: Know Your Problems

When people come across your book on Amazon, they'll do so with a problem or concern in mind. Chances are, you know these problems well, because you'll have written about it in your book. What's more, if your book is targeted at potential clients, it's all about the common problems your clients face, so you tackle these on a daily basis.

To complete this step, write out a list of problems your book solves (alternatively, you can do this as part of Step 3, below).

Step 2: Discover the Power of Hooks

Human beings love closure. That's why we're more likely to complete tasks we've made a start on; we don't like to leave things unfinished. It's also why TV cliffhangers keep us addicted to a TV series. We want to know how things end, and cutting up a story in the middle leaves us hanging, ensuring we'll be back for more.

Hooks, or teasers are the equivalent of cliffhangers, but in your book description.

Hooks, or teasers are the equivalent of cliffhangers, but in your book description. Hooks leave your readers hanging. They give readers a powerful sense of what they'll get out of your book without giving away everything.

How can you find hooks? Go through your book, and note down every solution your book provides. Then ask yourself: what will your reader's life look like, or what will they be able to do, when they implement your solution? One or two sentences for each solution is plenty. These are your hooks, and you'll use them later when writing your book description.

Step 3: Read Your Book, Cover to Cover

Now you know what to look for - problems and hooks - you're ready to read your book with a salesperson's eyes.

I do this read through on my computer, with notetaking software open beside the book. Then I take notes on problems and hooks. With my notes in digital form, I can copy and paste them into a word processor, then tweak them into a book description.

Alternatively, you can transfer your book to your ebook reader (if you're a Kindle user, you can email your book to your device), and take notes old-style, using pen and paper.

Either way, the notes you take will form the basis of your book description.

Step 4: Appoint Beta Readers

To really get to know your book well, it's useful to have a second pair of eyes to tell you what the most helpful and engaging parts of your book are.

You can brief your beta readers to look for problems and hooks, then compare notes. Your readers, who are seeing your book with fresh eyes, may have completely different ideas to you.

You can also approach thought leaders in your network as beta readers. In addition to providing valuable feedback, they can give you a testimonial to include in your book description.

2. Write Your Book Description

By reading through your book and taking notes, you've got together all the information you need to write your book description. Now it's just a case of polishing up what you've got.

Step 1: Write the problem or problems in the language of your readers

The opening of your book description should leave readers saying "Yes, that's me! How do they know me so well?" If you can create that sense of identification, you're already close to securing the sale.

By empathizing with your readers, and showing you understand them, you make them want to know more.

To get readers saying this, go through the list of problems you've made, and find up to three of the problems that cause the most difficulty or pain for readers. Write one or two paragraphs about how this problem looks through the eyes of your readers. By empathizing with your readers, and showing you understand them, you make them want to know more. No longer do they need to feel alone in their troubles. You're there to help them.

You've got them interested, and ready to read your hooks, which you can use to reel them in.

Step 2: Brush Up Your Hooks

Depending on the length of your book, you may have a lot of potential hooks. You want to whittle this down to between five and nine of the best hooks. Choosing the most powerful hooks is an art, but bear in mind the following:

  • Focus on hooks that address the problems you outlined in step one.
  • Ask for feedback from your beta readers on the best hooks.
  • You can check out the descriptions of bestselling books in your niche to see the hooks they use. They're bestsellers for a reason, and if you've got similar hooks, then use them.

When you've chosen your hooks, polish them to make them even more powerful. Remember, you want to give readers a feeling of how their lives will be improved when they've read your book and followed your advice.

You can write your hooks as a bullet list, or as two to three paragraphs.

Step 3: Include Testimonials

If you collected any testimonials from beta readers, this is the place to include them. Only use testimonials from readers with credentials.

Step 4: Add a Call to Action

Conclude your book description with a call-to-action. Essentially, this is a one or two sentence summary of your book description that includes asking readers to buy your book.

It's not about being salesy. It's just about subtly encouraging readers to make the purchase now.

Here's a template you can use:

Pick up your copy of [book title] today to [solve these problems] and [make your life look like this].

Step 5: Proofread

You've polished up your research into a book description. Now you're ready to add even more sparkle with a proofread. During your proofread:

  • Check spelling and grammar. Mistakes look unprofessional, and will put readers off from buying your book. Mess this up, and readers will assume your ideas are as sloppy as your typos.
  • Check the length. Book descriptions on Amazon can be up to 4,000 characters (around 1,000 words).
  • Ensure the description flows well. You may have to add linking sentences between the different sections.
  • Brush up the voice. Your description should sound like it's written by a publisher. It should focus on your book, rather than on you (unless you're a global celebrity).

3. Perfect Your Introduction

Amazon's Search Inside function has transformed the introduction of books into a sales tool. Essentially, your introduction should be an extended version of your book description, empathizing with the problems your readers face, and showing them you've got the solutions.

Here are some ideas for an eyeball grabbing introduction:

  • Tell your story. Explain where you used to be, where you are now and how what you share in the book got you there.
  • Give away a big secret. Rather than tucking away your big secret inside your book, reveal it right away. This makes your reader trust that you'll deliver even more big results.
  • Paint a picture. Show the readers what life will look like if they successfully implement your advice. Be honest about the chances of success.

In summary, an effective book description and introduction:

Lets readers know how the book will help them;

Gives an overview of the problems solved in the book;

Paints a picture of what your readers' lives will look like once they've read your book and implemented your advice;

Includes a call to action.


Graphic Credit: Iconochki Set by Brave475 Vector Icons by talrevivo.

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