Cialdini principles
Successful Book Descriptions Principles

When it comes to attracting and converting potential readers, few things matter more than your book offers or book descriptions. They need to be awesome. Every word adds spice to the “dish,” making the content appealing to prospective buyers.

I take my ingredients for spicing up offers and book descriptions from well-known psychologist Robert Cialdini. His classic book on persuasion and influence describes 6 principles: reciprocity, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

(A seventh principle, “unity,” was added in 2016.) I personally use these principles like salt and pepper in my own marketing. Taken together, they’re a powerful arsenal for any marketer.

Cialdini Principles

Check out the examples of Cialdini principles in action below, and read my tips for how you can season your own marketing with these powerful persuasion tactics.

Examples of Success

Example (plus a quick exercise):

The book sales page of Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson:

How many of Cialdini’s principles can you find? Thumbnail (January 30, 2020)

Solution: If you look over the whole sales page, you’ll see that Russell actually uses all of Cialdini principles. In the screenshot above, he uses reciprocity (offering a free book), social proof (providing a testimonial), and authority and liking (with a video).


Example: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

This Amazon sales page uses credibility (listing awards) and authority (“prize-winning journalist”) heavily to create a compelling book description and subsequent offer.

Thumbnail (January 30, 2020): Amazon


Find my concrete applications for each Cialdini principles below.

Principle Application


  1. Give your readers something valuable (for free) first to trigger “reciprocity” in return (this can even be used in descriptions by sharing a valuable insight or quote early on in your book description or offer).
  2. Before making your offer, tell your readers what you’ve already done for them (this works well if you’ve already provided value, e.g., with the delivery of a lead magnet).


  1. Get your readers to commit by signing up or reading part 1 of your series.
  2. Remind your readers of the specific goals your book can help them with (“You want to reach X, so read the book”).

Social Proof

  1. Use testimonials and reviews to highlight what other readers liked about your book.


  1. Present yourself, as the author, in the best possible light. Use pictures/videos on Author Central where you’re on a stage. Share audience numbers, like number of YouTube subscribers. Show reviews of your work by popular, respected figures.


  1. Make sure your offers, book descriptions, and author biography include details that establish your credentials, experience, and recognition. What makes you qualified to write this book?


  1. Give your readers a sense of urgency and priority. Limit your offer in some way to incentivize engagement—for example, through an early-bird bonus for the first 100 readers.


  1. Connect with your readers on a deeper level by creating a shared identity around your book and subject—e.g., based on location, traits, personal interests, or challenges.


  1. Robert Cialdini. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984):
  2. Cialdini’s 7th Persuasion Principle: Using Unity in Online Marketing:
  3. How to Use Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion to Boost Conversions:
  4. Dr. Robert Cialdini: The Psychology Powering Influence and Persuasion [podcast]:
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"This article is based on insights from the book "Book Sales Explosion". Get your copy on Amazon and find the insights for selling more books and creating a successful author career."
Albert Griesmayr

Albert Griesmayr

Founder & CEO of the book publishing startup Scribando & Novelify.

Previously Albert was Head of Digital at Dorotheum and consults companies and authors in digital strategy, digital marketing and book promotion.