Monday, August 04, 2008

The hunt for blurbs

This from The hunt for blurbs | Salon Books

I managed to beat the odds by finding an agent and a publisher for my own first novel. All seemed to be going well until, about six months before publication, my editor called to discuss the issue of blurbs. For the paperback version of my book, I'll have plenty of reviews with which to lard the back cover but, pre-publication, the first-time novelist needs quotes like "Genius!" or "Masterpiece!" or "Johnson writes like an angel!" from other, more established, writers in order to lure potential readers. Thus commenced the dreaded search for blurbs.

A very amusing, bittersweet article in Salon about the dreaded "blurb" hunt, which I am familiar with. It's not enough to have attained the book deal, now you have to deal with the naked spaces on the back of the book jacket and try and persuade people to glow and praise your writing.

I am lucky, I found three wonderful writers who did just that, and I am very grateful to them. But there's something vaguely humiliating about even asking - it's like saying "Say something nice about me, please!" Then they do, and you're thrilled, but somewhat disbelieving that this describes your writing. A very odd aspect to publishing. I presume originally the quotes were from reviews of the hardcover which they then added to the paperback, but now books often go straight to paperback, hence this strange, artificial process. I don't quite believe it will boost my readership at all... we will see. Anyone else have tales of the dreaded search for blurbs?
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tqr said...

I got lucky as hell when one of the contributors to TOUCHING THE MONKEY: The best of sent an electronic version of the book to Scott Pack, who summarily read (I think he read it?) and blurbed all in about the span of 48 hrs! Thus, the book bears his name and words, whereas it would have had nothing of the sort, me being a first time publisher and all, innocent of all the sordid details.

Women Rule Writer said...

The problem is one usually has to ask writers one knows and they are hardly going to say 'She's rubbish and so is her book!' It's all a bit of a false bargain but many non-writers are ignorant of the fact, so it doesn't matter.

A writing friend of mine used a negative review quote on a new book, confounding the reviewer who said it and the press. It was hilarious and made a good talking point. (The same reviewer then gave him a brilliant review for the new book!!)

Tania Hershman said...

TQR - that is wonderful, lucky that you had a savvy contributor! Looking forward to reading the review of Touching the Monkey.

WRW - what a fantastic story, I LOVE that, I'd definitely do that myself, what did the negative review say? Was it really negative, like "Don't buy this book, it's dreadful"? I love it!

Women Rule Writer said...

I'll get the exact quote and tell you anon. WRW x