Your Book Description Needs to Appeal to Humans and Robots

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Okay, the very first thing you need to know is that your book description needs to appeal to humans and robots. Appealing to humans is a pretty obvious goal. But what’s all this about robots? The robots work for Amazon and they help Amazon decide what books to display where. These robots are not really robots; they are sections of code (algorithms) but it’s more fun to picture them as actual robots.

The robots scan through the metadata that you entered when you posted your book for sale via the KDP dashboard. They use that information to categorize your book and serve it up in search results.

I can hear some of you asking: “What the heck is metadata?” So let’s tackle that first. Metadata is data that describes other data. When you uploaded your book to Amazon, you uploaded a data file. As part of the book set-up process you filled in form which provided these metadata elements:

  • Book Title and Subtitle
  • Edition Number
  • Publisher
  • Description
  • Book Contributors (Author, Editor, etc.)
  • Book Categories
  • Age Range
  • US Grade Range
  • Search Keywords
  • Cover Image

Additionally in the Author Central dashboard, you can add more metadata, including:

  • Editorial Reviews
  • From the Author
  • From the Inside Flap
  • From the Back Cover
  • About the Author

Finally, Amazon itself generates metadata about your book, including:

  • File Size
  • Print Length
  • Publication Date
  • ASIN
  • Sales Ranks
  • Number of Reviews
  • Star Rating

And more.

This book is focused on your book’s description, but you should fill out as many of the other metadata elements as possible. All the metadata helps your book to be discovered by readers.

Amazon is not the only company who has robots. Today you probably searched for something on Google. Probably more than once. Ever wonder how Google figures out which web pages to serve up in response to your search query? Google’s robots crawl the entire Internet and index web pages. They digest the text and other media on each web page and then (using their proprietary algorithms) catalog the page in their database. When someone types in a search query, Google matches the query up with its database and displays relevant results.

Amazon works the same way. Their robots digest the text of your book description (among other things) and then index the description and other metadata. When someone searches for “cozy mystery cupcake”, the books that Amazon’s robots have judged to be most appropriate to that search term will pop up in the search results.

Obviously you want your book to appear in searches that are appropriate for it so that as many people as possible will find your novel. That’s where thinking about metadata for the robots comes in.

Readers who are assured enough by your cover to click to the book detail page need to be persuaded to actually buy your book (or download a sample). That’s where thinking about a book description that is compelling to humans comes in. 

Got that? Good. Because now we’re going to do a deeper dive into the elements of a compelling book description, starting with blurbs and accolades.


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