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 C N Crawford’s, Frost. At the time of writing it was No. 1 in the Amazon UK’s Fantasy Romance bestseller charts.
Here’s the blurb…
There’s no hook for this one. It just dives straight in with an open loop…
On the worst birthday of my life, I come home to find my boyfriend in bed with another woman.
This opening line is a great entry point because it’s general enough to be relatable, and allows us to insert our own mental and emotional image of what a bad day looks like. Those emotions we associate with a day – which helps us empathise with the speaker. It’s also an open loop. It makes us wonder what else happened to ruin her birthday. Phew, all that before we get to the worst bit…
We find out that her boyfriend is cheating on her. Again, this topic is relatable. We tap into our emotions and can imagine how we’d feel if we were cheated on. This builds more empathy in the reader.
Within hours, I’m drunk, homeless, and pledging to stay single forever.
Right. There are a few things going on here that I really like. One, there’s the open loop – how’d she end up homeless? Cheating boyfriend aside, it implies she was living with him, but we’re not told explicitly. Two, the drinking and vowing to stay single are highly relatable and again build empathy because we’ve all been through a breakup and can imagine how she feels.
The third thing I like about this sentence is that it feels very immediate. Note, she says, ‘Within hours,’ so to the reader it feels it’s more recent. It feels like it’s only just happened and you can put yourself right there with her. This closes the distance between the reader and the story and naturally draws you in.
And that is when the dangerously sexy Seelie King rolls through town, looking for fae like me.
Now we’re served with a big fat genre signal of the romance fantasy kind: dangerously sexy, Seelie King, fae. There’s also a sneaky little open loop that I almost missed, ‘looking for a fae like me.’ What does she mean, a fae like me? Yes, I get that it means she’s a fae, but it leaves you hanging a little too.
Every generation, the king holds a competition for Seelie queen.
This gives us a little bit of background and sets up the plot, but it’s not weighed down with lots of info. It tells you enough to get the picture.
But for reasons he won’t explain, Torin is looking for a charade, not a real marriage.
Here’s another open loop that also sets up the conflict. Why won’t this guy dish the dirt? What’s he hiding?
So when I drunkenly sling insults his way, I have his attention.
This sentence does a great job of injecting personality and showing us–not telling us–about her character and her frame of mind.
When Torin offers me fifty million to participate, I think, “What have I got to lose?” The answer turns out to be “my life,” because my competition will literally kill for the crown.
To a recently singled, homeless person, fifty million seems like a no-brainer. Because the blurb has done a good job of setting up her mindset at the start and building empathy, we can easily understand her motives for agreeing. But now we have another open loop. Who is the competition? What has she got to do to survive? How does she win? Will she win?
And the more time I spend with the seductive king, the harder it becomes to remember it’s all supposed to be fake. Now, my life—and my heart—are on the line.
Now we’re talking tropes and genre signalling. This is perfect as it sets up the story for the readers who are into this style – it’s probably got a proper name, but I don’t read romance, I’m sure someone will tell me.
It ends on a good cliffhanger. Her heart and her life are at stake. Will she be heartbroken again? Will she live? Will the sham marriage become a happily ever after marriage?
Now, I’m not a romance reader (or writer for that matter!), and I’ve always found first person blurbs a bit weird. That’s me though. Clearly other readers like it, otherwise it wouldn’t be a thing.
I think because it’s so immediate, and the emotions it evokes early on are so relatable, and you’d have to be dead not to be able to empathise with the situation, are what pulls you through to reading the whole thing.
Overall, it gets top marks from me.
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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