Thursday, August 6, 2009

Doing the Blurbs . . .

I'm surprised by the attitude of some authors who've expressed a distaste for blurbs. They contend that they are ineffective and a waste of time. Among the reasons they give is that readers don't buy based on blurbs. For this and other reasons, they refuse to do them.

As a reader, I totally disagree with this. If an author whose books I've enjoyed (i.e. Robert Liparulo or Tosca Lee) shows up on the cover of a book I'm browsing, I definitely take a closer look. I still may not buy it, but it does get more than a cursory glance and will get the default buy over another book without those blurbs.

There are other good reasons to blurb. One is the simple fact that it doesn't hurt to get your name out there as often as possible. Inherent in a blurb to the reader is that the author considered these blurbers equal or superior to himself. Therefore, if an author's name appears on two books that a reader enjoyed, I assume they would do what I'd do: Check out that author's work.

Personally, after I'm published, I plan to do as many blurbs as I reasonably can. With a caveat that I want to keep my credibility with the readers. In other words, I won't blurb a book I don't like. I expect the same from the authors I plan to request blurbs from. If they don't like my book, I want them to say no. No hard feelings. If they don't have the time -- same deal.

There's another reason to do blurbs.

Imagine you're an author and you've had a single novel with modest sales and some guy you never heard of asks you to blurb his debut novel. You read it, like it, give it an honest blurb even though you may have had some problems with the quality of the writing. You then forget about it and go on to the next project. And then it turns out that guy's name is William P. Young and the novel is The Shack. Now your name and novel title are on 8 million books. What do you think that advertising is worth? Not to mention that he'd blurb your next novel without hesitation.


Kat Heckenbach said...

I can understand why someone would be careful who they endorse--I would not write a blurb for a book I don't like. But I think as writers we should be supportive of each other!

I recently bought a book because Donita K. Paul endorsed it. I would probably have passed over it otherwise because it's more sci-fi (and I lean toward fantasy) and a new author (and I'm budgeting my book money). I am really glad I bought it, though--it's great so far!!!

If I get a chance to blurb a book I like, I'll be taking it in a heartbeat.

Glynn said...

I agree with you and Kat. I read the blurbs before I buy the book. Some seem perfunctory; others are heartfelt and based on a close reading of the book. And from what I understand of the practice, publishers don't bury authors with tons of manuscripts to read for a blurb but tend to be more selective. The author can always say no.

I wonder if they felt the same way about blurbs when they were trying to get published.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Glynn, I know one particular author who wrote an article against them. However, if you pick up her novels, there are endorsements on the back.