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 bestselling 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 Misty M Beller’s, The Lady and the Mountain Man, at the time of writing it was sitting at No 1 in the uk bestselling Christian Western.
Here’s the blurb…
When a murder plot forces …
Not a bad opening, it starts with the drama and the main premise.
… a Southern heiress to flee …
Ok, so new we have what call an anchor image, an insight into who the main character is. The word flee is also good here, it sounds desperate. She’s not just ‘upping sticks’ or casually relocating. She’s trying to escape something.
… to a ranch in the wild Montana mountains, …
Here we have a little bit of scene setting. Its aim seems to be to reassure and reinforce the genre.
… love is the last thing she expects to find.
Here, we’re looking at another genre reinforcer that doubles as an open loop. This is cues the reader in that it is a romance, and we want to know more about this love interest.
Personally, I’d be tempted to cut the bit about the wild Montana Mountains as it makes the hook feel too clunky.
“When a murder plot forces a Southern heiress to flee, love is the last thing on her mind.”
Do you see how cutting out that bit about the location tightens it up? If location plays a big part in the novel and is knowing it is something that’s important for the audience to know, then it could be added somewhere else.
Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, …
Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty, we’ve got a name and here circumstance. If, as a I mentioned, the location is important, then here could be a good place to put it… The wild Montana mountains are no place for Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress fleeing the safety of her Richmond home.
… flees Richmond after discovering her fiancé’s plot to kill her after their wedding.
Ah, the inciting incident. This is driving force behind the story. It’s what’s taken her from her normal world and into chaos.
Desperate for a safe place to hide, she accepts a newspaper proposal for a mail-order bride from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory.
We’re clued into her emotional state here. She’s fleeing, she’s desperate, she’s clutching at straws with no where to turn. The use of the word ‘God-fearing’ is perfect here. It reaffirms the genre but also evokes a sense of safety. When we think of someone who’s God-fearing, we do tend to think of a good person.
But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.
Ok, so I think this bit could be tightened up a bit and leave more to the imagination. Building curiosity with open loops helps to build desire.
As is common in the romance genres, the second half of the description introduces the love interest.
When Gideon Bryant finds an eastern lady standing in his log cabin,
We’re given his name and a hint at his lifestyle—reinforcing the genre—but not much else to anchor an image too. I wonder if adding a little adjective here would help us fill in the blank a little more, for example, ‘When lumberjack, Gideon Bryant…’ I don’t know if he is a lumberjack, but just adding a little bit of info about him helps to give a clearer mental picture.
… his first instinct is to send her back where she came from.
This sentence creates an open loop. We want know why he feels like that. My first instinct was to suggest that this could be shortened to ... his first instinct is to send her packing. But this type of language might not reflect genre so it’s important to know what the norms are in your market.
He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains––his parents, his wife, and now his brother.
The open loop in the previous sentence is immediately paid off. Now we understand his motives and we can see why Leah might think him bitter. Closing an open loop in a book description isn’t necessarily wrong, it can add to the desire. Here, instead of ending with a list of people he’s lost, it could be better to tie it back to Leah… He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains–this is no place for a naive Southern belle.
His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person.
He we get a sense of the dilemma he faces and the internal conflict his side of the the story is built upon.
But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, …
Here we have another open loop, what accident could be so bad that she couldn’t travel?
… can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want?
I loved this line. Who doesn’t want love? Although we can understand his motives in this context, I really like how suggestive this is of his real internal struggle.
Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life?
This question brings us back to the start of the description and the inciting incident that triggered the whole story. I might add “and her fortune” to the end of the sentence but it creates an open loop and a desire to find the answer.
Will her presence here put Gideon and his sister in danger too?
This is another attempt to create curiosity using an open loop question and hints at the jeopardy.
Get this inspiring Christian historical romance novel from a USA Today bestselling author.
Here’s the call to action that again reinforces the genre and combined with a social proof trigger that aims to build status and credibility.
There’s a lot to like about this book description. Yes, it could be tightened up. But given that it’s ranking well, it just goes to show that you don’t have to get everything right, it just has to be right enough.
What do you think?
Have you got any questions about it?
Want to suggest a book description to breakdown?