I just published my first short story at Amazon. Although many people downloaded it while in its free promotion days, no one has purchased it yet.

People have praised the cover (apparently I design better than I write), so I thought maybe the summary is not compelling enough:

Saki travels to Patong Beach, Thailand with the objective of getting rid of a life-long affliction.

I was thinking of changing it into something like this:

Saki travels to Patong Beach, Thailand to have a surgery done. One that could put an end to her life-long affliction, and finally give her the change to life a normal life.

But I'm not very sure about it.

How to write an effective summary for a story? One that would hook the reader immediately?

Edited version of the summary:

Saki travels to Patong Beach, Thailand to have a surgery done. One that could put an end to her life-long affliction, and finally give her the chance to live a normal life. But is her problem merely physical? Or is rather a condition more related to her soul?

(By the way, here's the full story via Docdroid. There are a few typos, but I corrected them in the final version).

  • 2
    Yes, I think adding "surgery" makes the stakes of the conflict higher. It also focuses what the "life-long affliction" could be, because without specifying surgery, it could be an addiction, a goiter, a skin condition, or her virginity. Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 19:58
  • You neglected to mention in the question that the title of the story (when read with the teaser/summary) gives away the plot completely. Or at least it convinces me that I don't need to read the story. Even to find out what on earth the cover might have to do with the contents.
    – Fortiter
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 0:33
  • I am unsure about the cover! Looks generic to me. I thought a good cover is one that links it to the story. (Having said this, I am unsure how you can make a photo of sixth finger appealing.) I am on the conservative side so generally I prefer artistic impressions!!! Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 1:21
  • @Fortiter OK, I'll consider that. But I don't see how Saki's Sixth Finger gives away the plot completely. Yes, it tells you the protagonist has a sixth finger, but a series of events follow because of that (not to mention that the extra finger is really a metaphor for something even bigger).
    – wyc
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 3:22
  • @Javeer Baker Well, I'm a designer and I'm fan of minimalism, so my designs tend to be simple and to the point. The cover has to do with the story. SPOILER Saki is a male who wishes to have a female body. That's why I decided to use the maniqui of a woman to symbolize that. And for the bikini, well, the story takes place in a beach. That's OK, though. We all have different taste in design (as well as in writing).
    – wyc
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 3:28

5 Answers 5


There's a saying in Brazil -- "De graça, até injeção na testa" / "For free, even a shot (injection) in forehead". That's to say, it's quite normal to have a lot of more downloads of your free book, than your payed one (even if both are the same). Remember the eBooks "offer" is really higher than the "market".

Well, I think there's something is missing in your summary, probably the mystery of your story, the conflict. When I read it, I already get everything.

Saki goes to a beach, undergoes a surgery, gets cured, end of story. Why should I buy your story if I already know everything that happens in it only by reading the summary?

A good summary must leave a -- I want to know what is happening -- feeling in the reader/buyer. If it fails to raise your reader's attention, it won't work.

Saki travels to Patong Beach, Thailand to have a surgery done. She was hoping to finally put an end to her life-long affliction, but things are never so easy as we thing they should be. What's is the deal with Mark? What is really happening in the hospital? Will she be able to uncover the truth before it's too late? Sometimes the cure can kill you.

Of course, I don't know your story. I just invented Mark, something mysterious about the hospital to raise the reader's attention. You just need to change that eye catching phrases to something that fits your plot but, to do a good summary, you must create expectation and a desire to buy the book.


You are confusing three things: summary, teaser and spoiler.

Focus on the teaser. That is what you must have to entice readers. Tell them a few key things about your story and then holdback! That will excite potential readers. They must want to read the rest of your story to find out. And they will buy it.

If you present a summary and spolier (as you do above), you reveal the storyline and all the twists and turns that make the plot. Why would any one want to buy 20 pages when they got the gist of it in half a page.

In short, a teaser will sell your story. Make it short (one paragraph) and snappy. Read it loudly to yourself. If it sounds exciting, it probably is.

  • As far as I understood, he is talking about that description added in the eBooks sites, to give more details about the book. Even not using the right terms, I think that's what he meant. Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 15:31
  • @Javeer Baker Well, I think the Amazon Book Description should work pretty much like a teaser?
    – wyc
    Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 15:34
  • I think it should work like a teaser, yes. Imho, descriptions should not be used without that "expectation" I told you about, unless you are making it to somebody who won't buy your book (maybe a publisher). When aiming to your readers/buyers, you always should raise their interest, be a summary, teaser and spoiler. Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 15:46
  • The three terms are clearly distinct in my mind because they serve different purposes. A teaser, not summary or spoiler, will sell the story. Consider this in relation to Amazon. Amazon is a commercial platform that is designed to sell a product. Your short story is the product (whether you like it or not). If you are not concerned about sales, it does not matter then if you have a summary, teaser or spoiler or even nothing in the description box. Finally, description equates to a summary but in the case of Amazon, it takes a new meaning. Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 22:52

Suspense is the thing that creates curiosity in the readers to read the story and know what's going to happen at the end ? or how the end of the story would be ?

You might have noticed that all daily soaps end their episodes with some suspense so that viewers wait for another day and watch it to see what's going to happen.

Curiosity is the main thing you need to create among readers so as to make your story worth reading.


Focus on the conflict and changes. People are generally looking for themselves when they read. They want to see people in situations they can understand.

Summaries don't have to be long. But they do have to sum up what happens in a compelling way.

Try reading your summary as if it were written by somebody else. What do you think of it?

The summary is incredibly important because it is the first or second thing an intern or agency runner will read when sorting through the hundreds of daily of submissions. "What should I show my boss?"


The first thing to do is to make 100% sure that all the basics are rock solid. Your spelling is imperfect "a change to life a normal life" => "a chance to live a normale life". Spelling and grammar are basic tools for a writer, for me that would be a reason to not buy anything from you. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but first impressions count a lot, and if the decision to buy is made based on two lines, then every word in those lines has to be perfect.

By content, your longer summaries are much more interesting than the short one. You need to have something called a hook in the summary. A point that makes the reader want to know how it continues or how it ends. If I'm not curious what comes next, why should I buy?

Finally, it is absolutely normal that there is a massive difference between free and paid, no matter the price. I run an online game that you can play for free, or donate an amount of your choice for a few extras. About 1% of players donate.

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