Week #4 – Miriam Margolyes, This much is true

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 Miriam Margolyes’, This Much is True, at the time of writing it was sitting at no. 34 on the UK Amazon best selling biographies.

Here’s the blurb…

Miriam Margolyes, This much is True, book description

The breakdown…

It’s worth noting that the audiobook version had a different book description. It might be one way to test stronger/different hooks, although it’s a little difficult to assess properly because Amazon don’t give you a whole lot of stats unless you’re advertising and can see impressions and attributions.

On to the opening hook…

‘There is no one on earth quite so wonderful’ STEPHEN FRY

‘As outrageously entertaining as you’d expect’ Daily Express

The publisher has kicked things off with social proof and credibility. Stephen Fry is very well known (in the UK) and although this line doesn’t tell us anything about the book’s contents, it makes sense to sell her personality so it does work well here. 

The Daily Express quote is focused on the content and fits in well with Margolyes’ personality.

Main body copy

BAFTA-winning actor, voice of everything from Monkey to the Cadbury’s Caramel Rabbit, creator of a myriad of unforgettable characters from Lady Whiteadder to Professor Sprout, MIRIAM MARGOLYES, OBE,

This sentence is all about build authority, credibility and intrigue, it suggests a life well lived and helps to build that all important know-like-trust factor.

[…] nation’s favourite (and naughtiest) treasure.

The use of ‘national treasure’ is a term we’re all familiar with and and suggests two things, one, a lot of people love her, and two, she’s someone with influence. Sliding in with ‘the naughtiest’ continues to reflect her personality and reinforces why so many people like her -because she’s not afraid to say what she thinks.

Now, at the age of 80, she has finally decided to tell her extraordinary life story – and it’s well worth the wait.

Pointing out her age and the use of the word extraordinary life continues to build intrigue, while at the same time building desire with the ‘well worth the wait’.

Find out how being conceived in an air-raid gave her curly hair; what pranks led to her being known as the naughtiest girl Oxford High School ever had; how she ended up posing nude for Augustus John as a teenager; why Bob Monkhouse was the best (male) kiss she’s ever had; and what happened next after Warren Beatty asked ‘Do you fuck?’ 

This is a brilliant section. Not only because I love Miriam, but it uses a copywriting technique called bullet writing. Essentially you’re teasing the reader, evoking their curiosity with open loop after open loop. 

Throughout the description the ‘naughtiness’ theme is maintained, and it stays on brand by not shying away from using the word fuck in the right there in the book description. This pre-frames readers to expect swear words in the book. Some people dislike profanity so using one up front right on the sales page allows people to filter themselves out.

Giving people the chance to nope out avoids a slew of bad reviews and complaints about swear words. This was a good move by the whoever wrote this blurb.

From declaring her love to Vanessa Redgrave to being told to be quiet by the Queen,

Two more open loops here but both sound highly entertaining and somewhat relatable. We’ve all been there when it comes to declaring love and you can’t help but wonder what she did to get told off by the actual Queen.

[…] this book is packed with brilliant, hilarious stories.

This short selling line is a brief summary of the book and its job is to remove an objection from the logical part of the brain – what’s in it for me, is it worth my time reading?

With a cast list stretching from Scorsese to Streisand, a cross-dressing Leonardo di Caprio to Isaiah Berlin, This Much Is True is as warm and honest, as full of life and surprises, as its inimitable author.

Here they’ve thrown in some more open loops, with a cross dressing Leo (WTF?), and final sentence reinforces both brand Miriam and the type of book you’re getting. 

In summary

It’s a pretty good blurb, you get a good sense of Miriam’s personality—which is important given it’s her biography—and they’ve built desire through intriguing open loops. It worked so well that I’ve actually bought the book.

What do you think?

Have you got any questions about it?

Want to suggest a book description to breakdown?

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