Friday, January 23, 2009

Blurbage

I've got blurbs on my mind these days since I represent some great books coming out this year. One of my fabulous clients received this email from a blurb provider: "I know you can't use this but here's my initial reaction: Fucking A, man, this is awesome."

I'm not so sure we can't use that blurb! The raw energy and genuine enthusiasm says more to me than a lot of the more ..ahem..sanitized versions I can think of.

What do you think?

49 comments:

Jena said...

I'd grab that book in a second (and would kill for a blurb like that!).

P. Bradley Robb said...

I guess it depends if the profanity is acceptable to the genre of the book.

I think it would speak volumes about the book if the blurb writer name or publication is reputable or recognizable.

Would the writer be open to having the F bomb mildly censored? Reduced to "F'in A" or something similar?

Megoblocks said...

I'd be tempted to buy it on the blurb alone. If you've got the stones to put that in print and plaster it everywhere, I'm looking :)

George said...

Depending on the audience you're trying to reach...it could work.

Kwana said...

It would make me spend my last dollar!

Sarah Jensen said...

I'm with PB Robb. But I want to see the book, that's for sure. ;)

BJ said...

It might depend on who the blurb-provider is. Perhaps he/she may not *want* their profanity on a book, despite that being how they feel.

Although, I do think the milder F'in A, as Mr. Robb mentioned, might be okay.

And it would depend on the market, as well. Probably not great for a YA or children's book - although children don't really care (and may find it compelling) it's usually the parents buying the books.

Amara said...

If there is swearing in the book, then hell yes.

As everyone else said, depends on the audience or genre.

A story for my grandma or mom (ie, the light romance books)...probably not.

For action-y books, or fantasy, or sci-fi, (my favorite genres), yesssss.

David said...

Maybe "[T]his is awesome."

Sara Merrick said...

I'd like it because it sounds fresh and honest; a one of a kind, over the top endorsement. Looking down the road, if it became a trend on bookcovers, not so much.

Susan said...

I'd definitely pick up a book that had that much enthusiasm from someone, especially if it was another writer that I enjoyed reading.

What's the A stand for?

Margaret Yang said...

@David--you have to be careful when playing the elipsis game. So many blurbs are "creatively" edited with elipses or by only using part of the blurb.

If people are not careful, it could be shortened to, "Fucking...is awesome."

Ha! :-)

David said...

Margaret, true, but that's not an ellipsis.

For that matter, I've seen blurbs that didn't bother even with what I did. The blurb could even be, "This is awesome!"

Elissa M said...

It would work wonderfully if the book itself has that sort of slang and language. Readers would know up front exactly what to expect. As others have said, not so good if the blurb doesn't fit the genre and style.

L.C. Gant said...

I'm not a fan of unnecessary profanity, but this is definitely an exception. I don't think it will matter much if you change the wording, as long as the raw emotion of the blurb is still there. Edited or not, I'm buying that book!

In fact, keeping the F-bomb in could very well increase interest in the book. People will read that and say, "Wow, is it really that serious?" It'll make them want to see for themselves.

Eric said...

Very interesting. As the extremely pleased and proud recipient of said comment - I guess it isn't a blurb until it shows up on the book jacket - I shall call your comments to the attention of my publisher and the blurber to be.

Thanks

pseudosu said...

I know people get their noses all out of joint about profanity, but I agree with you Janet. Sometimes nothing conveys raw intensity and keeps it real like the good old effer.
eff-yeah-man!

Brigid said...

As always it depends on the target audience. Keep the "Fucking A" and scandalize a few, but make everyone curious.

Censor it to "...Man, this is awesome!" and keep some enthusiasm while losing some of the raw passion and all the shock-factor.

"This is awesome!" is bland, and says nothing about why.

Anita said...

Lately, when confronted with industry-related questions, I ask myself, "What would Janet Reid do?" So now I ask you the same question.

The Wannabe Scribe said...

I WANT that book, NOW.

If the blurb were for The Eternal Prison then I would say it was perfect, but if that was the case would you be asking?

Please tell us what the book is!

ilyakogan said...

Sounds great! As long as s/he doesn't backtrack when you tell him/her that is what you are actually putting on the cover and comes up with something castrated...

Steve Ulfelder said...

As the man says in Dodgeball: "Effin' A, Cotton."

Bill Peschel said...

"Fuckin' A" is the awesome part of the blurb.

"This is awesome" would not convey the same emotion to me. I wouldn't pick it up.

I supposed who said it would also make a difference. I would expect Stephen King to say it. But if Oprah said it ....

So sanitize it if you must, but no more than "F***in' A, This Is Awesome!"

(Meanwhile, the copy editor in me is wondering: do you hyphen Fuckin-A? Should the A be lower-case? Drop the G and put in the ' ? What's our style on this?)

Clearly, I need a rest. Fuckin-A.

Abby said...

Maybe F***in A? I would suggest moderating the "fucking" if there's a chance Walmart might take the book--if you leave that on the cover, they won't. But if it's the sort of thing Walmart wouldn't take anyway, why not? It's cool. Hell, it's fuckin' awesome!

Mystery Robin said...

That's my favorite, uh, colorful phrase. I always think of Stephanie Plum. I'd totally pick up the book.

Peg said...

F*** yeah, I'd buy it!

Richard Lewis said...

As others have said, I guess the context and genre will determine whether this works, but I don't see why it won't in many types of novels. Also it gives a hint as to the kind of novel it is -- I get the sense of something that will appeal to guys, and if that's really the intended audience I'd fight tooth and claw and balls to keep the blurb. If it can't happen, then I reckon "expletive deleted" will work almost as well

"[Expletive deleted] A, dude, this is awesome."

Indigo said...

With a blurb like that. I would more than inclined to check the book out. Sometimes raw enthusiasm is the seller itself. (Hugs)Indigo

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

If it's Eric's latest, I tend to agree that the blurb would suit the book. I'm only a few pages in and regret the fact that I have to spend several hours at work.

If the publisher is worried about profanity on a cover, then I guess "Effin' A, Man... this is awesome!" would suit.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Is a frog's ass water tight? Fuck-n'-A, Dudette, use it!

Haste yee back ;-)

Maria said...

Not sure about it on a book cover, but an author I know used a similar blurb quote on the bookmarks he made (I think the actual blurb was on the book, but not the outside--could be wrong.) At any rate most libraries turned down the bookmark. In some cases, libraries will put bookmarks out on the desks, but not that particular one.

From a reader standpoint, mostly I don't even read blurbs. That one might get my attention, but it would not leave a positive impression.

Ashley said...

I don't know jackshit about blurbs, but don't they sometimes have, like, pages of blurbs inside the book? That seems logical.

Or, you know, right on the cover. I'd laugh. I'd probably even consider skimming the book. (I don't browse books typically -- too many options scare me.)

Melanie Avila said...

I would buy it based on that blurb!

Nancy Coffelt said...

Wow. You've given me a new goal - to someday get a blurb just like that.

I'd buy the book for sure.

Eric said...

Kinda makes me regret some of the blurbs I've not even bothered sending to my publishers in the past. Bleak House, my publisher, is putting it on their website on the listing for their 2009 books. At this point I'm hoping it makes it onto the cover as well.

Just_Me said...

It would depend on who gave the review, to be honest. I'm getting pickier about what I read, and I'm beginning to note trends in authors and editors. There are a few authors I know who have a taste in books like mine. If they gave that review, I'd pick it up.

There are also several people I can think of that if their name was under the review, I would know I wouldn't enjoy the book.

This is a business built on opinions, and I want good reviews from reviewers I know I can agree with.

Gary Corby said...

To be honest, if I didn't already know the author was brilliant (which I do!) I would find that blurb counter-productive. My logic would be they are deliberately using shock value on the cover to get attention, so the book probably doesn't stand up on its own. Sorry, but that's the way I would think.

Also, people with young school kids would think twice about having the blurb lying in view on their table. With two small voracious readers, I couldn't leave it on ours. "Daddy, what's fucking?"

Why not go with, "This is awesome!"?

Molly Harper said...

If I saw that blurb on a book, I would totally buy it. If I got that blurb for my book, I would do the "Happy Dance of Pride."

Sarah said...

Am I the only one who immediately thought of the neighbor in Office Space?

I think Chumplet's suggestion is great.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

It's a great blurb . . . that said, I would completely put it on the INSIDE cover -- I don't think you could get away with putting the f bomb on the front cover where any ol' impressionable 12 year old or investment banker could see it.

Julie Weathers said...

I would pass.

Some books have profanity which is seamlessly inserted because it is simply part of the story. Ghosts of Belfast comes to mind.

A blurb isn't part of the story and I would expect to see a gratuitous sprinkling of unnecessary language with a blurb like that.

Don't like the language and don't want to listen to it. A book better have a very good reason to include it for me to pick it up.

I would not want it on my book, under any circumstances, regardless of who wrote it.

Julie

jwhit said...

If that is a blurb for Hornbill, use it. That opening excerpt is enough to earn it.

For everyone else's benefit:
http://www.ericstone.com/hornbill_excerpt.php

also known as Albert Lloyd Williams (the Recluse) said...

You are fucking outrageous -- and refreshing. Go for it!

Eric said...

Thanks for the link jwhit. Although, there's no cursing in that excerpt. Actually, the blurb is for my upcoming book SHANGHAIED. It's the fourth Ray Sharp book and will be out in July this year. Sometime in the next day or two the first chapter will be up on my website, and that does have some cursing in it - in both English and Spanish.

www.fromthebacknine.com said...

AbsoFUCKINGlutely

gbervik.com said...

I think it'd make a great blurb, but I'd include the first part too, ie start from "I know you can't use this but ..."

My favourite blurb on a book cover is from Banksy's WALL AND PIECE. "There's no way you're going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover" - Metropolitan Police spokesperson

Maggie Stiefvater said...

gbervik. YES. I love that blurb on the Banksy book so much -- as does my husband (who's a cop, coincidentally).

Eileen said...

It's not for a child's picture book is? Mr. Bunny goes to the zoo or some such title? I think that could cause you trouble.

Jane Smith said...

Fuck, yeah.

If I had a comment like that about one of my books I'd fight to be allowed to use it. But then I can see that booksellers and bookclubs might be put off, so there's a balance to be considered and I'm not sure which side would weigh more heavily.

On another note, for the writers upstream who were discussing ellipses: the word has two meanings. One ellipsis is the series of three dots that we're all familiar with... the other is a rhetorical device which I've defined like this in my forthcoming book, The Trivium:

Ellipsis omits words which might be necessary grammatically, but are unnecessary for comprehension: David admires Philip and Philip, David.

(I'm sorry, I couldn't resist the plug!)