Creating a Crafty “Call to Action”

A strong call to action at the end of your book description can dramatically increase your sales. 

I know. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. The reader is looking at your book on Amazon. Presumably, they’re there because they like books and want to buy one. But still you need to remind them in the moment that buying your book is something they could do right then and  there. I have no idea why this is, but the sales numbers seem to prove it. 

Thing is, writing a good call to action is a lot harder than you might think. 

This is especially true for authors. The skills and techniques that go into writing a good book are very different from those needed to write compelling ad copy like a call to action. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, the skills and techniques for writing a strong call to action aren’t hard to learn. If you can learn how to write a book, you can learn how to write a call to action. 

What is a Call to Action?

A call to action is asking a reader to take a next step. In advanced, multi-contact sales, it might mean making a phone call, downloading a brochure, or clicking on to the next article in a series. For you, it just means asking the person reading your Amazon book description to buy your book. 

But you have to be careful how you ask. You can’t just repeat stuff you wrote earlier in the description. You can’t resort to “Mad-Men” era, TV shopping tricks like “ACT NOW!” and “9 out of 10 doctors agree.”  There’s an art to it. 

Key Components of a Crafty Call to Action

1. Keep it Simple

People know they’re reaching the end of a book description by the time they reach your call to action, which means they’re in no mood to read a long, complex explanation of why they should buy something. End with a bang: something short and unignorable. 

Your call to action should contain exactly one concept, and should be at most two sentences long. No cheating with run-ons. Tell them exactly why they will love and benefit from reading your book, and ask them to start that process today. That’s all. Say nothing else, and say it as simply as you possibly can.

2. Restate the Benefit

What is the key benefit a reader will gain from reading this book? If nonfiction, you solve a specific problem by giving them information about a topic they have interest in. In fiction, you put them in an emotional state they actively want. 

Your description does the job of illustrating examples of the benefits reaped by reading this book. Your call to action is not a place to put in more. Instead, you sum up what the examples suggest by stating explicitly (and simply) what benefit reading your book provides. 

3. Tell Them What to Do

This may come as a surprise, but we’ve found that book descriptions ending with an explicit request or instruction sell more books than those that don’t. I honestly am not sure why that is. If you’ve read to the bottom of a book description, isn’t it very clear what the next step should be? I don’t get it. 

But not getting it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. The last sentiment of your call to action should be an instruction or request to buy the book, read the book, or begin enjoying the series. Ask for what you want…the readers are more likely to give it to you.

4. Stay Current

Trends change on Amazon and in self-publishing just like they do everywhere else. From time to time, dive in to the best-selling books in your categories and see what their calls to action look like. If they’re like yours, great…but if you start seeing new formats, word choice, or benefits, change yours to see if that makes a difference in your sales. 

One example of this in action is if your call to action includes comparisons to a popular, similar book. That’s great while the book you mention remains popular. A few years (or even months) later, you’ll want to see what new, current books get the most and best-performing comparisons. 

5. Make it Personal

Remember those benefits we talked about a few entries ago? When you state, them, don’t be abstract or impersonal about it. Make those benefits matter to the reader. Involve them in the text, so they feel both included and like the book was written specifically to them. 

Avoid language like “readers will learn” or “fans love”. Instead, say “you will know how to”, or “you’ll laugh and cry as”. Keep it as emotionally impactful and personally relevant as you can. That’s the way you push people from considering your book to buying and reading it.

6. Use Formatting

We already wrote a special report about how to format text in Amazon descriptions. Use that information, but use it sparingly, in your call to action. We recommend the following:

  • Put a line space between the rest of the description and the call to action
  • Use one italicized phrase and one bold type phrase
  • Avoid doing more, or the emphasized parts won’t stand out enough

That’s it. Use formatting. Use it strategically. Use it sparingly. It makes a small difference, but requires small effort.

7. Employ Active Words

Make the language in your call to action super-vibrant. Grab attention and motivate action. If the words in this final paragraph are tepid, so will be the response of the reader. Some great examples of active words you could use include: absorb, experience, astonish, laugh, cry, understand, master, play, enlighten, surprise…and of course, buy and read. You can also study the descriptions of best-selling books in your genre to find the action words most common in their calls to action.

Once you’ve finished writing the first draft of your call to action, read through it looking for weak words you can replace with more colorful, powerful, and active options. Think of it like a pep talk for somebody who’s not sure about buying your book.  Does your language inspire that kind of action? If not, rework it until it does. 

8. Take Advantage of FOMO

FOMO stands for “Fear of Missing Out”. It’s that sense some of us get that we don’t want to miss opportunities because we were busy doing something else. In publishing, it works when you suggest a book is part of a cultural moment, that everybody is reading a book and those who haven’t might “miss the bus” while the book is hot. 

If you can (again, briefly) point to real data about how popular your book is, do that. If you’re not there yet, find ways to phrase how getting in early with your book can make readers trend-setters. This can be especially powerful in nonfiction, if you suggest readers might gain a temporary competitive advantage over those who haven’t read your book and mastered its contents. 

9. Know Your Audience

After you write your “perfect” call to action, go back through it while thinking as a member of the audience you write for. Would it really grab your emotions? Does it call upon common needs, interests, fears, and loves this fan group has in common? Does anything come off as condescending, or less than knowledgable about the fan base you’re trying to serve?

If you have to give the wrong answers to those questions, go back in and make the changes. Remember, the perfect call to action for you may or may not be a good call to action for your readers. A perfect call to action for one genre could actively turn off fans of another. Know who you’re writing for, how to motivate them, and how to avoid pushing their negative triggers.

10. Create Urgency

This marketing trick is old as time, but continues to work. People who know they want to buy the book might buy it. They might not. They might want to buy it, bookmark your sales page, and forget about it a day later. People who feel like they have to buy the book now are more likely to buy. They never get a chance to forget, or to blow their book budget on something else. 

Use words like today, now, and before ______ to create that sense of urgency in the reader. You can also combine this with FOMO wording so the urgency comes from outside the page. Make the reader not only interested, but in a hurry to buy your book. 

One Last Thing

You’ve heard this advice in a few other areas, but it’s so important we’ll repeat it here. Nothing succeeds like success, especially on Amazon. If you want a call to action that stirs your potential readers, look up the descriptions for the bestselling books in your genre and specialty.

Ignore the super-famous authors (their name alone is a powerful call to action, and you can’t use that yet). Instead, find the calls to action for mid-list authors, and self-published authors. Model what they’re doing, and turn it up to eleven!