Writing a Description for Your Book

In this message, we’ll show you a step-by-step method to write a description that will get your Kindle book in the hands of readers. (We strongly recommend that you read our article on selecting keywords first as this subject will be discussed in this message.)

Your book’s description is not merely an introduction of your book to potential readers – it is also a field of data used by search engines to recommend books to buyers. Much of the marketing of your book is carried out by Amazon’s powerful search engines that work off whatever information you give them. Thus the description of your book needs to be optimized for both human readers and computers. A good description provides readers with a comprehensive, well-written overview, while creating a string of key words that will grab the attention of search engines.

Kindle allows up to 4,000 words for your book’s description. We suggest using as many as possible and we advise spending a little time thinking about the best possible description for your book. One of the biggest mistakes authors make is not taking advantage of the marketing potential offered by a well-written description.

When a buyer searches for a book on Amazon, the website’s search engine will suggest a variety of books based on the words used in their search. The books suggested by the search engine are based on relevance to the search terms (unless the buyer selects a different setting, such as highest average rating).

Once a buyer begins typing in the search box, Amazon suggests words that are commonly used together as search terms. (These groups of words appear below the search window in a drop-down menu.) In our article on keywords we explain that these combinations of words are the best ones to use as keywords for your book. They are also the ones you want to use in your book’s description because search engines look for these words in the title, subtitle, description and in the keywords selected for your book. The more often these word combinations are found – the more likely Amazon is to recommend your book when a buyer enters those words in their search.

To begin, log in to the Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard for your book and find the description text box as shown below.

Description_box

We suggest writing your description in a word processing program and when you are finished, copy and paste it into the text window. Using our book Divine Healing Made Simple as our example, the image below shows how we created a compelling headline for the description.  Amazon has a new feature for authors who have an author page with them.  (Click this link to find out more about author pages.) The author page allows you to create a description in an editing window that provides tools for formatting of text including bold, underline, bullet lists and more. If you have an author page, creating a professional looking description is a snap. If you don’t have an author page, take heart – Kindle allows the limited use of HTML tags for the description in the standard description page editor.

HTML Tags
It’s completely optional, but if you want to create various effects for the text in your description, you can do so by placing HTML tags at the beginning and end of sections of text to create headlines, bold, italics, bullets and more. To create the headline effect as shown in the example below, use the opening heading tag (<H1>) immediately before your ext and the closing tag (</H1>) immediately after the text. Note: using the H1 tag may cause your heading to appear in the Amazon gold color they use for their own headlines, which may cause readers to think your description was created by Amazon. 🙂 Use at your own discretion.

To create the headline effect for your description, replace the text between the tags below with your own text:

<H1>Your Heading Here</H1>

If you want to put the title of your book in bold as we did below, use the HTML tags (<b> </b>) to do it. Replace the text between the tags below with the title of your book:

<b>Your Title Here</b>

To create blank lines between paragraphs and headings, use the paragraph tags (<p> </p>) at the beginning and end of a section of of text. Below we show how to use paragraph and bold tags together. The formatting for the first paragraph in our description looks like this:

<p>
<b>Divine Healing Made Simple</b> is a training manual for the supernatural life, providing street-proven instruction for healing the sick in any type of setting. In addition to healing, the book teaches about prophetic ministry, street evangelism and making disciples.</p>

 

Description_Tags

 

While many authors might use as little as 200 words in their entire book description, we used that many just for the opening. We wrote four paragraphs for the opening of our description, each with different purpose. One paragraph is a general introduction, one tells readers what they can expect from the book, another helps to distinguish our book from others in its genre, and the last is an inspirational paragraph to motivate buyers to read further.

 

Description_Paragraphs

The description itself should be an easy to read overview of your book, with a generous sprinkling of key search words strategically placed within the text so that they don’t interfere with the natural reading of the passage. Repetition of key words is acceptable as long as it doesn’t become glaringly obvious that you’re trying to pack as many search terms as possible into the description. Be careful not to overdo it. Below we’ve circled all the commonly used search terms we used in our description.

Description_Keywords

Bullet List
To give readers a closer look at the contents of our book, and to provide search engines with more keywords, we included the chapter headings of the book in a bullet list. To create a bullet list, replace the text between the tags below with the words from your book:

<li>Chapter 1</li>
<li>Chapter 2</li>
<li>Chapter 3</li>
<li>Chapter 4</li>

Bullet tag

 

Key Words
The key words we want search engines to find in our bullet list are circled below:

Word_combinations

Reviews
Once your book has received some positive reviews you may want to consider adding a few of them to the description. We chose short excerpts from the best reviews and created a list of them with each review separated by a line of blank space.

Headline
To create the headline effect as show below, replace the text between the tags below with your own heading or use ours:

<H1>What Readers Are Saying:</H1>

Italics
It’s completely optional, but to place text in italics as shown below, use the italics tags (<i> </i>) at the beginning and end of the text you want to italicize:

<i>“A book that will bring you to a simpler place and understanding of the truths behind healing the sick.”</i>~ Cameron

Paragraph Tags
To create a line of space between reviews use the paragraph tags (<p> </p>)  and the beginning and end of each line of text. Below is an example of how paragraph and italic tags can be used together:

<p>
<i>“A book that will bring you to a simpler place and understanding of the truths behind healing the sick.”</i>~ Cameron</p>

<p>
<
i>“The authenticity and pure heart of the author comes shining through in a way I truly appreciate.” </i>~ Kody</p>

Paragraph_tag

 

Save and Continue
When your description is complete, save it by clicking on either the “save and continue” or the  “save as draft” button at the bottom of the page.

Save_and_continue

Is Self-Publishing for You?

This message will introduce you to the world of self-publishing and help you decide if self-publishing is for you.

We did a lot of research before we decided to self-publish our first book. We investigated and compared all the different routes of publishing—the cost break-down, terms of contracts, the quality of printing, customer service, etc. We weighed all the things we’d learned and decided that self-publishing was the way we wanted to go. One major factor that weighed into this decision was the fact that we know quite a lot about graphic design. Much of the cost of publishing a book goes to pay a graphic designer for the time and skills they have to create a print document and a cover image for your book.

If you’re reasonably skilled in graphic design, or if you have access to someone who is willing to lend you their skills at a discounted rate, (or even better – for free) self-publishing is by far the most economical way to go. If you don’t know much about graphic design or if you have no access to someone with the skills – you may need to hire a professional graphic designer, that is, unless you want to use the free (but limited) design services offered by Amazon.

There are basically three ways to get your book published. The traditional route is to submit a manuscript to a publisher (or many publishers) and wait to have them offer you a book deal. This offers no guarantee that your book will ever be published. And if it is published, the royalties are very low, by comparison to other routes available.

The second way is to use a “vanity” publisher. An example of a vanity publisher is Destiny Image, which is a Christian publishing firm. They review your manuscript and if it meets their criteria, they’ll agree to publish it. But they require a substantial financial investment from you, first. An unknown author must usually agree to purchase between $10,000 and $15,000 worth of books before printing begins. Publishers do this because they don’t want to assume all of the financial risk — so they pass it on to the author. In essence, they have you cover their up-front costs for printing.

The third option is to self-publish. There are a number of companies that offer self-publishing. Amazon makes the process pretty straight-forward and very cheap. They offer graphic design services for authors who don’t have access to their own designer. You have to pay for it, but their rates are pretty reasonable. Their artists are not world-class, so don’t expect a killer book cover. Amazon offers packages at various prices, depending on what your needs are. You can add whatever services you like including editing, marketing, etc. They also offer free (but limited) design services in the form of pre-formatted templates.

E-book or Paperback?
The traditional means of publishing books on paper has been turned upside down in the recent years with the advent of electronic publishing. Print books require more graphic design than e-books. The higher requirement for graphic design work means that publishing a paperback is more costly than an e-book. The low cost of publishing e-books has made this market very lucrative. The explosion of interest in e-books has created enough demand that if you market your books well, you can reach a wide audience with an “e-book only” approach to publishing. The upside to an “e-book only” approach is that it’s much cheaper and easier to publish e-books.  The downside is that you limit your book to people who have access to e-book technology.

Amazon uses two different companies for authors who want to publish with them. Kindle Direct Publishing handles their e-books while Create Space does their print books. We chose to publish  with Amazon for a number of reasons. They’re by far the largest marketer of books in the world. We felt like the book had the best chance to reach a global audience if we put it in the hands of Amazon, and so far – it’s working out very well. The second reason is cost. Amazon’s services are very affordable.

At Inkity Press, we have our own editor and graphic designer, so we did not need help in those areas from Amazon. Writing books is easy, but marketing them is hard for most authors so Amazon offers marketing services for a fee. We planned to do the marketing ourselves through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. So we didn’t need those services either. The more you can do for yourself, the less you have to pay others for their services. We simply wanted to have Amazon print our book and make it available.

The total cost we paid to Create Space to print our paperback was $10.00. (That’s not a typo.) We paid $10.00 to buy an ISBN number to have the book cataloged and that’s all we paid them. We did have other costs of our own, like purchasing the rights to images for the cover design, but the money we paid to Amazon was surprisingly small. An e-book doesn’t require an ISBN number, so we paid Kindle Direct Publishing nothing to publish our book.  That’s right—they published it for free.

How is this possible?

Create Space is a digital print-on-demand service. They only print a book after it’s ordered. They carry no inventory. So if nobody ever orders your book–none are printed and their cost to carry your title is virtually nothing. If they receive orders for the book–they print copies as needed and ship them. It’s a very efficient process that keeps costs at a minimum. That’s why it only cost $10.00 to publish our book. It costs even less to publish e-books because an e-book sale is a simple, inexpensive transfer of data.

Now before you get too excited, let me explain the other side of the equation. My team spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of their own time creating the book manuscript and cover image. The process of editing and editing and editing some more went on for almost a year. My wife and I did the first rounds of editing, but eventually we recruited the help of someone with a better eye for the job. Lydia Blain took over as our editor and she did an excellent job.

It’s common for authors to downplay the need for editing. I think it’s a serious mistake to think you don’t need an editor. Frank Viola is one of my mentors when it comes to writing. He’s published many good books and is one of the most successful Christian bloggers. Frank advises all authors to find a good editor and allow them to do their job. Good editing makes a book better.

If all you want is to have your book in print, regardless of how many typos, missing words or grammatical errors you have in the book, by all means, skip the editing. But if you want a book that shines; one that will be taken seriously by its readers—you’ll need an editor. If you need help with editing, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with Lydia or you can visit her website.

Professional editing isn’t cheap. You’re going to have to pay someone for their time and expertise if you want them do a decent job. That is, unless you know someone who has the skills to be a competent editor and they’re willing to do it at a discount or for free.

You’re probably wondering what kind of royalties you might expect from a self-published book. Depending on the choices you make, the royalties range from around 35% to 70% of the retail price of the book.

If your Kindle title is between $2.99 and $10 – the royalty paid to the author is 70% on each copy sold. If the retail price is more than $10 or less than $2.99 — the royalty is 35%.

The royalty for a print book is around 35% for purchases made on Amazon. Traditional publishers offer royalties that are only a fraction of this.

It is possible to make a little money selling books at royalty rates this good, but you have to find people to buy your books. While most authors are pretty good at writing books, they’re often clueless when it comes to selling them. We won’t go into the ins and outs of marketing a book in this message, but if you want to ask questions in the comments we’ll do what I can to answer them. (We will publish articles on marketing in future messages.) Books don’t sell themselves.  Every author needs a plan to get the word out about their book. If you need advice on marketing, contact us and we’ll do what we can to point you in the right direction.

Lastly — A big downside to using vanity or traditional publishers is editorial freedom. Most publishers reserve the right to edit the content of your book according to their own standards. We consulted with Tyler Johnson on this issue and he shared a horror story he had with his first publisher, who decided to chop out some vital sections of his book because the content did not agree with the publisher’s theological perspectives. That incident caused him to pursue the route of self-publishing. If you’re likely to have content in your book that won’t measure up to someone’s theological yardstick—rest assured knowing that if you self-publish, you have the final say on content.

Well, that’s wrap. I hope you’ve found this message informative. If we can help you in any way, or answer any questions, let us know. Thanks for dropping by.