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 Sarah J. Mass’s, A Game of Thorns & Roses. At the time of writing it was No. 4 in the Amazon UK’s Fantasy Romance bestseller charts.
Here’s the blurb…
Hook: THE FIRST BOOK IN THE BESTSELLING SERIES AND A TIKTOK SENSATION
‘The first book’ instantly flicks the ‘novelty’ psychological trigger in our brains. The fact that there’s a series also attracts those readers who like to get invested in a character/world. Using‘bestselling’ and ‘TikTok sensation,’ adds authority and social proof.
Second hook(?): ‘With bits of Buffy, Game Of Thrones and Outlander, this is a glorious series of total joy’ STYLIST
This review quote is really good as it uses familiarity to get us engaged. It gets you imagining what that might be like. What bits of Buffy, how’s it like GoTs?’ Because these series are familiar, they also feel safer. And the end ‘a glorious series of total joy’ helps to evoke a positive and exciting emotion.
Body copy: Feyre is a huntress. And when she sees a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she kills the predator and takes its prey to feed herself and her family.
We’re quickly introduced to the main character. It’s not weighed down by too many details and is likely to signal the genre–it’s not one I read, which is why I say ‘likely’. The second sentence is a prime example of showing. It shows us the type of character she is through her actions, rather than telling us.
Next paragraph: But the wolf was not what it seemed, and Feyre cannot predict the high price she will have to pay for its death…
Here we have our first open loop: what or who was this wolf? Then we’re forced to consider what price she has to pay for killing it.
Next paragraph: Dragged away from her family for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding even more than his piercing green eyes suggest.
This first part actually closes the first open loop a little bit. It dangles the carrot and signals the genre by telling us the wolf was a faerie. Using the word ‘dragged’ is also a top choice as it’s more physically active. You can imagine what it’s like to be dragged. If it had said ‘Captured and taken away from…’ there’s less action, it sounds more passive, and it’s harder to imagine what that’s like.
The paragraph moves on to tell us a bit more about the ‘villain’ of the piece but maintains a sense of mystery.
Next paragraph: As Feyre’s feelings for Tamlin turn from hostility to passion, she learns that the faerie lands are a far more dangerous place than she realized. And Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
Ah, so we’re moving into Stockholm Syndrome territory here. We’re forced to assume that the captor’s name is Tamlin, and she’s fallen for his charms. We’re given another open loop about what makes the faerie lands so dangerous, dangerous in what way, dangerous for who?
And it’s followed by the stakes. What ancient curse? Will she get her man?
Final hook: Sarah J. Maas’s books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into 37 languages. Discover the tantalising, sweeping romantic fantasy, soon to be a major TV series, for yourself.
This first bit adds to the social proof, but I would argue that it’s better placed up top. I’d also suggest deleting the call to action at the end. People don’t like being told what to do, even if you soften it by using the word ‘discover’. It does a couple of things…
First, it kills off all the emotional desire and curiosity you’ve built up in the body copy because it forces your brain to move towards logical thinking. We buy stuff based on emotions, not logic. If you read the blurb again but this time stop reading at ‘she will lose him forever.’ and make a note of how you feel. You’re left with a feeling.
Whereas, if you read until the very end ‘for yourself’, you start to engage your brain and ask yourself if you really want it. Since books, in the most part, are impulse purchases, you don’t want people debating, you want them buying. So to that end, I’d kill off this last paragraph.
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.
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