What is Sales Annotation ?

Many writers tell me they don’t know what an annotation is. What they don’t realize is they are already very familiar with annotations, they just never knew what they were called. To help clarify this sometimes confusing topic, here is what you need to know about sales annotations.

What is an annotation?

An annotation is also known as a wholesaler’s summary. It is the sales copy that will be used for online descriptions on retail sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so it is an important component to selling your book.

How do you write a good annotation?

It’s best to make this description as persuasive and comprehensive as possible. Take advantage of the maximum length allowed by the website, which is usually around 4000 characters, including spaces. It’s a lot, but these 4000 characters are what will convince many online shoppers to either buy your book, or someone else’s. Also, SPELL CHECK YOUR WORK before submitting it.

What is the difference between Back Cover Copy and Annotation?

In many cases, annotation copy can be exactly the same as your back cover synopsis, but in some cases, you may have reason for it to be different.  Keep in mind that people who shop for books online will see this information about your book long before they see your back cover text. In fact, in many online cases, this will be the ONLY information available about your book as they decide whether to buy it.

To help you decide, here is a description of both.


  • Restricted by the size of the book’s back cover
  • Three main components: 1) the headline, 2) the synopsis or marketing copy, and 3) the author biography
  • Can also include quotes, cover blurbs, or other testimonials about either the book or the author
  • The back copy should be composed with the goal of getting a browser to become a buyer.


  • Used by Ingram during the distribution process
  • When the book is listed on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website, it’s the annotation that fills the PRODUCT DESCRIPTION/OVERVIEW section.
  •  Restricted in length, although very often can be substantially longer than the Back Cover Copy
  •  Should be as long and as detailed as possible, perhaps requiring multiple headings to separate elements of the annotation.
  • Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the capability of understanding basic HTML formatting tags, so judicious use of several tags can help an annotation really stand out.  Two specific tags that should be used are the BOLD tags and the italics tags, both of which can help draw a reader’s attention to specific words and phrases within the annotation.
  • Bullet point and numbered lists are good here, too.
ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

One thought on “What is Sales Annotation ?

  1. Thank you for the reminders that, while we are engaged in marketing, we’re not necessarily utilizing every aspect to it’s fullest potential. Something to add to my resolution list for 2015. It sure beats trying to lose the holiday pounds from eating too many goodies.

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