Wednesday, October 13, 2010


april fools 2010 020a Do book blurbs influence your book buying habits?

Apparently publishers think so because you’ll find blurbs on front and back covers of many books—and they’re hoping if you see that one of your favorite authors loved a book…that maybe you’ll buy it to see if you’ll love it, too.

The process of getting blurbs, though, is a little unusual—actually, there are lots of different ways to go about it.

I was delighted to get some great blurbs from several authors I really respect, who write books in my genre, for Delicious and Suspicious. My editor at Penguin asked me, months before the book went into production, if I had any ideas of authors I’d like to ask to blurb my book. And I did.

My editor did something I really appreciated—she asked the authors’ editors if it was all right if they blurbed me. A couple of the writers have more than one series and she was concerned that they would feel like they needed to try to fit in reading my book when they should be writing their own, instead.

I’ve also blurbed another book in my genre for another Penguin author and was happy to do so. But last week, I had a request to blurb a book…and there was just no way I can.

Right now I’m absolutely swamped with my own writing and promo-related stuff. I felt bad about it, but I knew that I would be really frantic if I fit someone else’s galley into the mix.

Reasons you might not be able to blurb a book:

There are only so many hours in the day. And it does take hours to read a book—and then more time to come up with a pithy blurb.

Your agent and/or editor(s) don’t want you to blurb right now. Because you’re under one or two tight deadlines.

Sometimes people ask you to blurb your book and it’s not your genre. I think it makes more sense for an author to blurb a book that’s in their genre—that’s what the reader is expecting. If Stephen King is endorsing a book, I’m not expecting the book to be a romance.

Sometimes people ask you to blurb their book and you aren’t sure if you’ll like it. If I’m blurbing a book, I want to be able to wholeheartedly endorse it. You want to be enthusiastic in your support of the book.

With some publishers, there might even be a problem with you endorsing a book at a competing publisher. I’ve never run across this—but I wouldn’t be at all surprised. This isn’t an area I’ve heard a lot of discussion over.

Sometimes you get requests and you wonder if the book was actually edited…especially if the email from the writer isn’t even well-written. And you wouldn’t want to endorse a poorly-edited book…you want it to be a professionally-edited book. If your name is enthusiastically endorsing a bad book, then it makes you look unprofessional, too.

What to do if you can’t give a blurb:

Remember that it’s a huge honor to be asked to blurb a book. The author is saying that your endorsement of the book is important enough to help sell it.

Remember that it can be difficult for an author to approach another writer about blurbs. Respond quickly and politely to the request and don’t make the author feel bad. Be nice.

The idea is to pay it forward—if you can. If you can’t, for whatever reason, respond quickly and professionally. Most writers, I think, want to pay it forward. After all, there were many different people who gave us help and support on our path to publication.

Have you blurbed or asked for blurbs? As a reader, are blurbs something you even notice when you’re book browsing?