Week #9 – Cody Smith – Stage Fight

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 Cody Smith, Stage Fight at the time of writing it was actually sitting at No. I-forgot-to-write-it-down (ok, so not most helpful).

Here’s the blurb…

A screen shot of the Amazon sales page for Cody Smith's book, Stage fight
Here’s the Amazon link if you want a closer look

The breakdown…

I loved the subtitle for this book, it matched the title perfectly and add as sense of action and drama, here it is..

Stage Fight: How to Punch Your Fears of Public Speaking in the Face! 

Here’s the opening:

The man in the suit…

…is about to call you to the stage.

Are your palms sweating?

This is a really good opening ofr a non-fiction book. It starts as late in the sales argument as possible (the reason why it matters), right when the reader will feel the height of their anxiety.

It paints the picture so succinctly, and puts you right in that moment. As opposed to listing a bunch of questions, like you get nervous about speaking in public? They go for a common physical response to the anxiety, you can literally feel your palms sweating as you read it. It makes me want to check if my palms are actually sweaty right now!

Public speaking causes anxiety in 75% of the population.

Another great way to engage readers is with numbers. Not only does it attract the eye. it also does a couple of other things…

Stats and numbers appeal to the logical side of our brains and we tend to give more weight and credibility to things we perceive as facts. It adds to the credibility and authority of the author, and finally, it makes people feel less alone in their anxiety – “oh phew, I’m glad it’s not just me!’ Shrewd move by the writer here.

Does your career depend upon mastery of this fear? Whether it’s giving a report to a handful of co-workers in a conference room or an auditorium full of your peers, this book can help you get over the nerves.

By asking a direct question – one that speaks directly to the target audience’s problem – career types who want to advance but their fear of public speaking is holding them back, the reader is forced to think of their answer. If it’s no, then they’ll likely click away, but if it’s yes, then they’ll likely keep reading.

The scenarios are directly related to business situations which reinforces to the reader that it’s for them. Then it goes on to the solution – that this book can help you get over those nerves.

Conquering that internal struggle is the focus of this book.

Here, they’re empathising with the reader’s situation, which in turn makes the reader feel like they’re seen and builds trust. It taps into the desire they have to solve the problem using strong words like ‘conquering’.

It will teach you to be comfortable in your own skin while speaking to an audience whether you’re:

I really like this part, it doesn’t overstate the promise. People are turned off by over inflated hyped-up sales claims. If it promised you’d become the next big thought leader and crushing your first TED talk, you would probably feel that’s a bit unrealistic. This claim is all anyone really wants – especially as it’s the next logical step in growing their confidence.

  • Looking to be a rock star in front of the boss at your next big presentation
  • Ready to knock your next pitch out of the park with a potential client
  • Wanting to promote your business at the regional conference

These three bullets are nicely formatted – with the longest first and the shortest last. This makes it easy on the eye and makes you feel like you’re reading faster. 

Again, these are all business scenarios, they’re keeping the ideal reader at the forefront of this sbook descrition.

Or any of the dozens of other times public speaking is required.

This little sentence doesn’t look like it’s doing much, but what it is doing, in a subtle way, is inviting the reader to imagine themselves in other speaking scenarios.

How do we conquer our fears?

This answers the question in the reader’s mind. They’ve built up the pain and agitated it. Now they’re providing the solution. I think perhaps a better question to ask is “How can this book help you conquer your fears? – Not that exactly because it’s a bit clunky but something similar – something that points the book being a no-brainer solution to their problem.

  • By learning the “why” behind your fears
  • Understanding how to have discipline that leads to confidence
  • By learning the Fastest way to overcome the anguish.

This bit, for me, is where there’s room for some improvement. This feels like a standard list of features, the first bullet isn’t too bad but the second sounds like it’s hard work – the word discipline doesn’t sit well with me – if I were to rewrite this I’d say something like – Learn the A.C.T.I.O.N method to building confidence – giving things a proprietary name increases curiosity and authority. 

The third bullet also falls a bit flat, yes, everyone is out for whatever hack and shortcut they can find but here ‘overcome the anguish’ just sounds off. I mean who says that in real life? Oh, hey, I’m looking for a therapist to help me overcome my anguish.’ No says it. Don’t write it.

You could say ‘Learn the mental shortcuts proven to help rewire your brain and manage your anxiety.’ That might be a bit long but you get my point.

Don’t let a fear of public speaking hold you back.

I like this bit, it simply recaps the pain point and keeps poking the pain point.

You’ll love the insights in this book, because everyone can conquer their fears if they just have a little help.

This bit at the end is kind of ok. Not sure there needs to be a comma there, but I’m not the greatest grammarian.

Get it now.

I’m on the fence about this as a CTA, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s too abrupt but then there’s another part that likes the inference of getting help (as mentioned in the previous sentence).

In summary

This follows the PAS formula – problem, agitate, solution copywriting formula. It could be stronger in the solution department but otherwise it’s a pretty good blurb.  

What do you think?

Have you got any questions about it?

Want to suggest a book description to breakdown?

Either comment below or shoot me an email.

And of course, you can always join my email list for deeper copywriting insights.

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