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Boost book sales with more powerful and intriguing book descriptions

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Associate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a couple of pennies (at no extra charge to you).

What self-published author (including this one) doesn’t want to write more powerful and intriguing book descriptions?

With that in mind, I bought Brian Meek’s 2019 book, Mastering Amazon Descriptions: An Author’s Guide, to help both you and me.

Book descriptions are super important, so you really want to get yours right.

Will this book help you? Here’s what you need to know.

More powerful and intriguing book descriptions convert

Meeks, who writes both fiction and nonfiction, explains that a book description that resonates with readers will help you convert more “looks” to “buys.”

You see the value in that, of course, especially if you’re paying for advertising.

If you’re running Amazon ads, you’ll spend less to get people to buy when your description convinces them to do so. If you’re not advertising, you’re selling more books than you would with a lackluster description.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”You’ll spend less to get people to buy when your description convinces them to do so.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

Instruction is brief

The first few chapters explain the importance of a compelling description.

The true “here’s how to write more powerful and intriguing book descriptions” instruction is just a few pages long, starting with Chapter 4 and concluding at the end of Chapter 7. There isn’t a lot there, but there doesn’t need to be.

What’s in those few chapters is helpful. I would have liked to have seen a formula or template to go with it, but you can use what’s there to create your own.

Sample book descriptions and re-writes

The bulk of Mastering Amazon Descriptions is 40 before-and-after book descriptions. Meeks shares the original description, a short critique, and his re-write. “Read them all,” he advises, rather than flipping through to find those in your genre.

I read maybe the first 10, all for fiction. Then I started skimming to find nonfiction examples.

I found one.


One nonfiction book description out of 40.

That doesn’t mean that nonfiction authors can’t learn from the instruction and the descriptions for novels – they can.

But it does mean that Meeks should include that detail in this book’s description because it’s important. If I bought this as a nonfiction author rather than as someone working to help authors identify helpful resources, I would have been disappointed. (And maybe even annoyed.)

Table of contents doesn’t help

Why didn’t I just check the table of contents to find the nonfiction examples, you ask?

I did.

But the chapters are numbered without titles. Not much help there, ya know?

And without chapter titles in the table of contents, you can’t identify the padding – and there’s a lot of it – without continuing to turn the page as you move through the book.

More fluff than a Rice Krispies treat

Speaking of fluff … I take notes when reading books I plan to review on this site. Here’s what I wrote for a couple of chapters:

  • Chapter 29: Bizarre
  • Chapter 37: What the what?
  • Chapter 44: Huh?

Mastering Amazon Descriptions coverI realized by the end of Chapter 29 that it was originally either a long Facebook group post or a blog post written while Meeks was attending an authors’ conference. It has nothing to do with writing compelling book descriptions.

Here’s a sample from the chapter: “To those who are not here in Las Vegas this week, we shall miss you.” It concludes with another sentence referencing “tonight.”

I think you can understand my confusion.

Skip those chapters.

Still, the fluff is obvious, which makes this book quite skimmable, in fact. You’ll see quickly which chapters are padding and which are relevant.

Kindle price is $9.99

I paid $9.99 for the Kindle version. That seems high for a book with so much filler text, but if it helps me sell more books, it will pay for itself.

For that price, though, I expected more tools and less random content.

And I’ll admit that sometimes I felt like I was being pranked. For example, right up front, Meeks tells us to copy and paste text promoting his book – and with his Amazon Associates link no less – into a Facebook post to see how many more likes we get than we usually do.

I mean, have people actually done that – recommended his book before they’ve even read it just because the author told them to?

Some might see that as clever … others might decide it’s insulting to the reader.

Do I recommend it?

Did I get $10 worth of value from this book?

I did.

Will you?

It will help, especially if you write fiction. You’re likely to see at least one before and after for your genre. If you’re like me, examples help provide clarity.

It will help nonfiction authors, too, but because there’s only one nonfiction example – and examples are the bulk of the book – it’s less useful to them.

This isn’t the wildly enthusiastic review I was hoping to write (especially because I laughed out loud during the first few pages). But I did learn from the book, and for that, I’m grateful.

What book would you like me to review next? Please tell us in a comment.

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  1. This review had me scratching my head. You mentioned so many serious negatives about this book. Then near the end you said you got $10 of value from it – without explaining clearly and persuasively what that value was.

    Were the rewrites convincing? If so, why? You should have spent the bulk of your review talking about that, in my opinion.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Moshen. Here’s my statement in the review that explains the $10 value: “if it helps me sell more books, it will pay for itself.” So, yeah, I think that if I make changes to my book’s description by following Meeks’s advice, I’ll pick up $10 in royalties I might not have earned otherwise. And I’ve only got 1 book I can do this with as most of mine are traditionally published and I don’t control their Amazon sales pages. Another author could earn that back even more quickly by improving the descriptions for multiple books.

      You make a good point about how I didn’t evaluate the re-writes. Here’s why: I don’t read most of the genres covered, and therefore don’t feel qualified to judge except in cases where Meeks stripped out a lot of unnecessary text that made the originals too long and too specific. What I DID do, though, is look up a few of the books that had re-writes to see if the authors used the new version, and the 3 or so I looked at did. Thank you for prompting me to include that here.

      If I had to boil down this long review, I’d say, “Don’t let the irrelevant chapters in this book keep you from focusing on the solid instruction and examples that will help you improve your book’s description.”


  2. Sorry, I am scratching my head again. Why is whether or not the authors used a rewritten version of a book description even relevant to whether or not this author is giving good advice in his rewrites? I’ve seen many, many people follow poor marketing advice.

    1. The fact that they changed the description and still use it years later suggests that they saw sales increase after the revision.

      Please continue to scratch.


  3. I understand the reasons for a good market copy and also at the same time noted the comment by Moshen Mallory. Fair enough but I’m convinced the publishing industry is slipping, getting a tighter knit bunch of people resorting to more labout saving devices. Specifically like a clever bot or large block of text called upon to answer letters in the post, that sort of thing.Authors I am inclined to look on as writers with a traditional publisher and those without as un-agented writers. The quicker the un-agented writers group together the better it will be for ideas to be shared. Un-agented writers have between 1 to 3 books and adding up the numbers across the board in the whole world that’s a massive number of books kicking about without those attractive descriptions to pull in the discerning reader. That’s what I think.

    1. that’s a massive number of books kicking about without those attractive descriptions to pull in the discerning reader.

      And the goal of this book, Cleveland, is to help those authors write better descriptions.


  4. Thanks for your blog post, Sandy. A testament to the value of an honest review. As a non-fiction author, I am often disappointed by many books and courses that are fiction-friendly with little relevance to my work. I will be looking for this title through the interlibrary loan program!

    1. Sonia, I’ll loan my copy to you! Just tell me when you want it and provide your Amazon account email address. : )


  5. You remind me to go look at my copy of the book, and the examples.

    I write mainstream fiction – ‘big books’ – as an indie, and there isn’t a lot of support for that, because many readers figure that if you are any good, you’ll go for (and acquire) a traditional publisher (regardless of their stingy and limiting contracts), and if you don’t, you must not be any good.

    I disagree – many excellent books will not make it into a trad pub’s catalogue (limited space, among other things), but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work for a trilogy with a disabled main character who neither conveniently dies nor withdraws from the fray to let an able-bodied one win. No inspiration porn possible, either.

    And I’m a former physicist, computational physicist, and homeschooling mom – turns out I have to be in control, and you have little of that, I understand, with most publishers.

    But there were one or two examples in the book (terrible Table of Contents, agreed, and no index) that triggered some real thinking about book descriptions, and that is definitely worth $10. My copy is well highlighted.

    Not much more, and not a recommendation (unless the more common genres written in by indies are one of yours). But isn’t that true of so much in life? You take what works for you, grateful you found it, and use it – your way.

    1. Alicia, we are definitely in sync on this book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      As for this piece:

      many readers figure that if you are any good, you’ll go for (and acquire) a traditional publisher

      I don’t think most readers understand the publishing world or business. If a self-published book looks and reads like any other book on their shelf, and doesn’t have a publisher name on the inside that shouts I PUBLISHED THIS MYSELF, they don’t know and don’t care how it was published. All they care about is a good story that’s well-written.


      1. I’ll have to disagree, gently, with you on this – because I think it applies only to mainstream fiction. In general, readers don’t care – but indie books often are specifically disallowed on the kinds of book blogs that cover mainstream contemporary fiction. This has been my experience – there is a divide, with self-published genre fiction on one end, traditionally published mainstream fiction (and book bloggers) on the other, and, in the middle, a section of Amazon imprints one has no way of applying to.

        Prices often go with the divide: free to about 4.99 or a bit more in the genre SP, ebooks priced over $10 by the publishers (it is speculated they are protecting paperback and hardcover sales), and the 5.99-9.99 Amazon imprints in the middle.

        Readers notice things like that in the genres they read, and have preferences.

        I don’t think (again, my opinion) that mainstream readers come to Amazon to search for their reading material. I believe they come to buy, less expensively, and have delivered to their homes or readers, the books they’ve seen advertised elsewhere or discussed on ‘the right kind of book blog.’

        It is especially limiting to those without energy to go out and pursue opportunities – local papers, local TV or radio or other shows to compensate for their perceived status.

        Do you remember the Data Guy? He had lovely color charts showing some of this – they were often publicized on The Passive Voice blog – and went private and for pay some years ago. The separation was very real, probably still is. Amazon was the green band in the middle, IIRC.

        I, of course, may be wrong.

        And thanks again for reminding me of this book – I’m going through all the highlighted and marked sections while I still have time to adjust the description for NETHERWORLD. Brian Meeks still writes them, by the way.

        1. All excellent points, Alicia. Thank you — and thank you for being gentle! : ) I love our discussions here.

          As for those Amazon imprints, a few of my author friends with agents have titles with them. Because I know they’re agented, and because the imprints operate like traditional publishing companies, having an agent is probably the best way to break in there as long as one of the imprints publishes books in your genre.

          Have you noticed how the Amazon Prime First Reads books are all Amazon imprints that haven’t been released to the public yet? What a fantastic way to rack up reviews before the book goes on sale. Genius!


  6. Thank you for this review. I’ve been thinking about reading this book, but wasn’t sure. Now that I know how much of it is filler and what to look for, I think I’ll give it a try.

    I still don’t like the price tag, though. Too much for so little.

    1. I hear you on the price, Amy. It’s easier to accept if you translate it into a potential increase in royalties. (And if it doesn’t help, you’re only out $10, right?) And when you read it, try not be aggravated by the filler (there’s actually a chapter on how he lost, then found, a winter hat — 100% roll-your-eyes-irrelevant).


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