Tuesday, February 05, 2008

blurbs

One of my authors was briefly heartbroken for the last two weeks because her pride and joy--her book, which, obviously, I believe in very thoroughly--had been rejected and rejected again by everyone we approached to blurb it. It's an important book on an important topic, and my author began to question--was it her content? Did she mess up? Did she not write well enough? Was the topic less important than she imagined? Why did everyone, from top to bottom, say no, even the people she knew must believe in her message?

The story ends happily, because this morning we got in two very nice blurbs from two extremely nice sources, but let me tell you, most stories don't end that happily. Blurb quests are time consuming, expensive, and really depressing most of the time. It's really sad.

My author says she's learned something from all of this--despite her full plate, her writing commitments, her full-time job, and her family obligations, she will do her best to say yes to any author, especially any debut author, who asks her to consider their manuscript for endorsement. I'm really glad that that was the message she chose to take from this, instead of a negative one about how much it sucks that successful published authors are so frequently unwilling to pay forward the favor that helped their book take off.

My author also passed along this article to me, which she said helped her come to terms with the issue. It's by a journalist who got upset when he saw a very famous published author's statement in the WSJ that he never provided blurbs, just simply said no to everyone. The author of the article provices a list of rules for blurbees and blurbers that I think are well worth thinking about.

It's true, authors, particularly famous ones, are extremely busy. We're all busy. And many authors will have to say no to most blurb requesters. But I do think it's worth remembering what you went through when you were first published, and trying to pay forward some of that goodwill.

14 comments:

pjd said...

I'm not ready to seek blurbs yet, but that's a good article linked. When I was reading it, I thought that "Blurbees" would be an excellent name for a rock band. You'll notice I am not in the music business, however.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm not well enough known to be asked for blurbs typically, although I was asked once and was thrilled and happy to do it.

Precie said...

How often do blurb requests get rejected? Do you know if it's harder to get blurbs for nonfiction than fiction?

I can understand authors being wary of basically endorsing someone else's work...but this is yet another depressing aspect of publication I'd rather not think about.

Kaytie M. Lee said...

Seems to me that every stage involving rejection is the worst stage to be at for an author, be it finding an agent, finding an editor, or finding an author to blurb.

:/

cyn said...

so glad to hear about the "happy ending" for your author, MR! the uphill battle never stops!

and thank you for another interesting post that none of us would have a clue about.

Maprilynne said...

May I become big enough to not have the time to do blurbs.;)

David L. McAfee said...

When I finally make print, I won't hesitate to blurb any other authors. It's just common courtesy. Why alienate potential peers? Seems silly to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm with maprilynn and David... but I'm wondering if some of these authors who refuse to blurb others are actually just afraid that if they endorse something that then flops, people will see them for the frauds they really are and then their fairy tale success will come crashing to nothingness?

If I get that successful that people come looking for my endorsement, I will be happy to give it... but only if I truly believe in the product. Which is where Almond's article ends up: if you like it, blurb it. if you don't, don't. But have some guts and if you like something, say so.

Kaytie M. Lee said...

I don't believe in saying yes to everything. We'd dilute our clout if we did.

But I do believe in saying, if I can't say yes, "Thank you for asking. I don't have the time (or the expertise, or the whatever) to give you the thorough reading a blurb would require. But I wish you every success with your novel!"

There's no reason to be catty or snooty. Saying no graciously is sometimes more important than saying yes.

ChristineEldin said...

I'm a deep believer in paying it forward. It's wonderful she took the positive message from all of this.
You're right. Everyone is busy. And noone's 'busy' is more important than another's.
Great post.
:-)

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for the insights on this. Hadn't considered how helpful a blurb could be, actually.

Jaye Wells said...

Thanks for sharing that article. I've started putting together my list for when my editor asks for it. It's hard to make the mental leap from being a fangirl to soliciting quotes as a professional.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Sounds like your author came away with a valuable insight from the experience - always so great when we can take something away from an experience like that and use it for the good.

Anonymous said...

I'm a sales rep with one of the big houses. Before this, I was a bookseller. I know authors (and probably their editors) care about blurbs. No one else does though.