We all know that book descriptions are vital part of book sales, and one of the biggest pains on an indie author’s to-do list.
I’m on a myth-busting mission impossible to breakdown the elements of best selling blurbs so that you can use the techniques to write your own best selling blurbs…and make it a lot less painful in the process.
Heck, I’m gonna go so far as to say that I actually want you to start enjoying writing the bleddie things…
Because you’ll have a handy bag ‘o’ tricks to refer to, grab inspiration from, and stop using the spaghetti-thrown-at-the-wall approach.
Here’s how these weekly blurb breakdowns are gonna go down
Every week I’ll take a best selling book off the digital shelves of Amazon’s top 100 in a given category… and I’ll break it down, sentence by sentence, so you can see the techniques and strategies at play.
Then, you can use those techniques to strengthen or create your own best selling book description.
If you come across an awesome book description out in the wilderness, and you want me to break it down, I’m more than happy to do it. The catch is, it can’t be for one of your own books.
Just email me with the Amazon link and tell me what you liked about it – if it made you want to buy it, or if you bought it.
Right, so them’s the rules, let’s dive in…
This weeks blurb breakdown is Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, at the time of writing it was sitting at no. 31 on the UK Amazon best sellers in Contemporary Romance eBooks.
This screenshot was taken on my Mac. It looks a little blocky and, to my eye, might benefit from adding a little more whitespace. Now, I’m not privy to Amazon’s number’s, but OuterBoxDesign‘s survey showed more than half of online shoppers used their mobile to buy. So it’s definitely worth considering how your book description will look on a mobile.
Right, on to the copy, here’s the hook…
“THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER AND TIKTOK SENSATION
SOON TO BE A NETFLIX FILM”
Sunday Time best seller, TikTok sensation and soon to be Netflix film adds social proof and authority. If I could change one thing, I think it would be to change the hierarchy so that it reflects the rise to popularity: The TikTok sensation that became a Sunday times bestseller and soon to be Netflix film.
“Riveting, heart-wrenching and full of Old Hollywood glamour’ BuzzFeed“
– Uses social proof to add credibility and authority, this is great social proof but also a good hook because it reinforces the genre. Well used.
“This wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet and her tumultuous Tinseltown journey comes with unexpected twists and the most satisfying of drama’ PopSugar” –
So here we have another positive review. There’s the rule of three’s going on here, us humans are weird, we like things in threes. Three blind mice, the three bears, the three little pigs. You get my point. Three positive reviews.
“From the author of Daisy Jones & The Six in which a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.“
This is a bit lengthy as an opening, in my opinion. The inclusion of two other titles here (to add more authority and credibility) makes it a long sentence. And the repetition of the ‘and’ makes it a clunky sentence to read allowed.
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo task…”
This gives us a great picture of our main character and helps to reinforce the genre.
“[…]tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.”
Love the open loop of scandalous, and also the juxtaposition – we often assume that glamorous is good but we all really want to know what goes on behind the curtain.
“But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?”
Now we’re a little snippet about the second character and we also get details about the storyline – this is a retelling of life as a celebrity and works so well as a hook because even today, in real life, people want to know what goes on behind the closed doors of a celebrities life.
“Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. “
This does a good job of painting what life is like for Monique and answers the question about why she accepts the call to adventure. It also helps build empathy, Monique doesn’t sound like she’s got a lot going for her and her life sounds pretty stagnant.
“Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.”
To me ear, this sounds a bit clunky. There’s an opportunity to add another layer of intrigue if it were rephrased as ‘Regardless of Evelyn’s motives, Monique is determined to […].
The use of the word determined and jumpstart again help to paint the picture of Monque’s outlook and. We always like to cheer for the underdog! Detemination is also a strong emotional word that many people can connect with.
“Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment”
I like the use of the word summoned here. it gives us a sense of Evelyn’s authority.
“Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story.”
I feel like ‘listens in fascination’ is too passive and could be made to more active and dramatic. Maybe she could be frantically trying to keep up with her note taking, or Monique struggles to hide her shock/keep her cool/ etc as the actress relives her glory days.
“From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way”
We’re getting a few snippets of plot here, nothing too specific but appealing to those readers who enjoy this era.
“Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love.”
Three is the magic number, again! It paints a picture of the type of person Evelyn is while also creating those open loops, why was she ruthless, what did those unexpected friendships mean, and what was forbidden about a great love?
“Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star”
This helps to paint the picture of a developing relationship between the two.
“Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.“
Ooh, intriguing hook alert. How are their lives entwined? Are we about to find out the real reason Evelyn chose Monique to write her biography. What’s so tragic about their lives? And what’s irreversible about it?
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a mesmerizing journey through the splendour of old Hollywood. . .”
Solid good world painting, and genre reinforcement.
“[…]harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means and what it costs to face the truth.“
These are the stakes and a nice hook. It uses the ‘truth comes at a price’ cliche but it still works.
“Don’t miss the new novel from Taylor Jenkins Reid, Carrie Soto is Back, out now.”
If I’m honest, I had to read this twice because it confused me. I had to double check the title of the book description I was reading because I was like, who’s this Carrie Soto, it’s the first mention of her.
I really wouldn’t recommend pointing readers to another book at the end of your book description. You’ve just worked so hard to grab their attention, keep their attention, and built up the desire to buy the book… only to say ‘oh but you should also go check out this other book.’
What you really what them to do at the end of reading your blurb is one of three things
1) click the buy button,
2) read teh look inside, or
3) check the reviews
You don’t want to tell them to go look at completely different book because you might just lose yourself a buyer. What if they were about to buy, but then they go and check out the other book and they’re not as into it? And then they see a sponsored ad for someone else’s book…you’ve lost them. All thet hard work writing the book description and it’s wasted.
While it’s not a bad blurb, there is a little room for improvement. I suspect that its success is not solely down to the blurb and other factors, such as popularity, are at play. It does just go to show that your book description can have flaws and yet be successful.
What do you think?
Have you got any questions about it?
Want to suggest a book description to breakdown?