Thursday, July 19, 2018

Blurbage


Hope all is well and you're chomping some tasty queries this week.
(I bypassed the queries and went directly to chomping on tasty writers at ThrillerFest. They were delicious!)

Question for you:

In recent blog posts, you've talked about author blurbs, stressing how unhelpful it is to try and get blurbs before your book is acquired and how important it is to save those author reads for when the book is done and ready to be blurbed.

This got me to thinking about blurbs (something I really hadn't been considering at this stage) and made me wonder: who should we hope for blurbs from?

If we have a network of author friends, when it comes time to ask about blurbs, should we focus our energies on the people whose books are most similar to ours? If we know a bestselling author in another genre (who might have a crossover audience), should we put them on our list?

I know I've seen non-fiction on the Middle Ages touted as the book George R.R. Martin used for research, for example. So, is the person's bestseller status the key or do we need to stay within the bounds of our own genres and categories?

The bigger the author name, the better the blurb.
If George RR Martin likes your book, and you write dino porn, it doesn't matter that he doesn't.

Most blurbs however are going to come from writers working in your genre or category. You want names that your readers (or prospective readers) will recognize.

But there are also blurbs that tell industry folks that you're something special. A lot of readers may not recognize the name James Crumley, but within the crime writing community he's something pretty special.

The flip side of that is blurbs that industry folks know are worthless. I believe it is Robert Parker who is credited with "I'll read your book, or I'll blurb your book but I won't do both" which I think is hilarious but doesn't help the author with a Parker blurb.

Blurbs from bookstore owners are also helpful for building buzz inside the industry. Those people are real readers, and generally have pretty good taste in books. They also are pretty savvy about what will sell. Their opinions really matter to other booksellers too.

The good news is you're not going to be working on this by yourself. Your agent and editor should be doing some of the heavy lifting with you. 

And you're not even going to think about this until you have a book deal.

13 comments:

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Our own Sam Hawke got some amazing blurbs on her book. Perhaps, once Australia is awake, she will chime in as to how she received such powerful endorsements. One was Robin Hobb, my favorite writer of fantasy- well, now Sam is a favorite, but that wasn’t even the most recognizable. She may have some fresh insight as to how these blurbs were wrangled.

I believe Donna Everhart also gets wonderful blurbs. She is about to pop out book three. I am less familiar with her genre although I love her books. She writes about my neck of the woods so gloriously.

So I am going to sit back and wait for commemts from those who know. I am curious as to what it takes to get these folks to say, hey read this book.

AJ Blythe said...

It's thinking of things like this that will keep me going until the book deal.

While publication is still out of sight I can dream of being on best seller lists, getting big name author endorsements, being the big name author asked to give endorsements...reality will hit one day. Until then I like my world.

Sam Hawke said...

Australia's been awake all day - it's winding down now. ;)

I can chime in, but I'm not much help - I didn't do even a little bit of the lifting myself. The only author who blurbed because of a connection to me was Robin, who's a personal friend and volunteered to read it (I'd never have asked, wouldn't want to impose on the friendship). The rest were authors my agent and/or editor knew and thought might like the book. I suppose the short answer is, I left it to the professionals to sort out, and then was very, very lucky that some wonderful writers actually liked my book enough to say yes.

So that's not much use as advice, sorry!

Craig F said...

I believe that blurbs are mostly a part of what a publisher does. They will have a section with writers of the same genre as you and will get blurbs from them.

For example: Sci-Fi from TOR will have blurbs from other sci-fi writers from TOR. That not only helps the writer, it increasing brand recognition for the publisher.

As with all things writing, there are exceptions. Rules are meant to be broken in writing because the envelope must continue to be pushed along the long road.

Mary said...

I had to get my blurbs on my own for both books. Got to say, my least favorite task. I cold emailed some authors I admire whose work was similar. Some ignored me but others were gracious. I especially appreciated the ones who didn't have time to blurb but who wrote back to say so, instead of no response.

Mister Furkles said...

And you're not even going to think about this until you have a book deal.

Darn! That wheel is all locked up. What's an obsessed hamster-writer to do now?

Adele said...

On the blurb downside, I have to admit I've put a book back on the shelf if the blurbs weren't right. Five laudatory comments from "Unknown Name, author" (without a book title) sounds to me like you brought your Mom and your sister and your aunts to your job interview. I'd have been more likely to buy it without any blurbs at all.

Elissa M said...

"And you're not even going to think about this until you have a book deal."

For me, lines like the above are a relief. I feel like I have enough to think about just trying to write the best book I can. I don't need any more rabbit holes or hamster wheels to run down/on.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Although my publisher did a lot of the blurb-getting, I also spent time reaching out to authors I respect - people I'd be proud to have on the cover of my books. Truthfully, I thought it was a blast. Initiating dialogue, discussing writing and publishing, and then seeing what they offered as the blurb.

I was thrilled to get a blurb from Joe Camp (the creator of Benji) for my book about dogs. He became a real life friend. We've been to his home, and he and his wife have visited the sanctuary.

Sara Gruen contacted me to blurb her first book, before she was Sara Gruen. She's another real life friend. We don't write the same genre, but she's always told me she'd blurb whatever I wrote.

I've blurbed five books, but also declined a few. Once for time constraints and once because I simply couldn't align myself in any way with the story (and didn't want my name on the cover).

My advice: don't be timid about developing friendships with authors you admire. And every writer should have a relationship with their local indie bookstore. Support them and participate in events, before, during, and after you write your own book.

Onward, y'all!

Echoe Jones said...

This is at least the second time Reid's used "dino porn" as a comparison, and every time, I can't help but think about this Cracked article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/3-books-from-dinosaur-eroticas-most-prolific-author/
I thought it was a joke, but apparently it's a real genre.

The information about blurbs is interesting though. As a reader, I've definitely noticed that cover blurbs can sway me to pick up a book in the store, but sometimes they can have the opposite effect if I notice that said author has just blurbed a ton of books.

Lennon Faris said...

OK, not going to think about it yet, then ;)

Melanie, I so admire that you can make friends with anyone.

K OCD said...

Hello Reef,

I'm trying to find out if (and under which username) I can comment from my own phone now (Yay, I got my own one recently... had to share one with Boyfriend for last 2 years.)

I'm known as "One Of Us Has To Go" here but would like to change it to "Katja". Won't work, I suppose, though.

Let's press "publish" and see what happens :).

K OCD said...

OMG, I'm "K OCD" now. How ugly is that. Sh*t.

Well, sh*t happens...