The fine art of Blurbery

Among the many things that have popped my eyebrows north during this ride to publication, is the concept of the book blurb. Perhaps I’m a little dim, but I never considered this facet – just one of many I never thought about until it was staring me in the face.  Now, I’ve read my share of these as I’m browsing for my next read, but oddly enough, I never gave the “how” of book blurbs much thought.  They were just there.  Much the way the road is just there on my way to work.

Anyway, the mysterious blurb has to be created, it turns out, by another writer – and one with something of a reputation if it is to have any credence at all. But here’s the tricky bit: why would any writer of note blurb a book for an untested and unknown scribe? Well, there are a couple of good reasons. First, there’s the idea of giving back. All writers – event the best – came from obscurity (okay celebrity writers never had to, but cut me some slack here, I’m on a role – and don’t get me started on celebrities and book deals…), and at some point someone gave them a hand up.  The idea that they could do the same for another up ‘n comer is a nice thought.blurb

Secondly, there’s the payback. Agents and editors are often instrumental here, and can call in a favour or two for some past assistance. There’s nothing wrong with this, and assuming the book in question is a good one, I can’t see any writer objecting too loudly on that score.

The third one is my favourite: for the love of the medium. It’s the idea that a successful writer may simply be open to reading work just for the joy of seeing the medium flourish – no matter whose book it is.  It ties into the first one a bit too, as the blurber can feel pretty good about helping the blurbee out.

All of these largely involve the professional folks in your corner – your agent, the publisher, your editor – but there is one more person in that group looking to help get you blurbed.  Yes, you.  Yeah, its challenging.  Those uber successful writers don’t need me; there’s nothing I can do for them.  So, short of being struck by philanthropic lightening and plucked from (another) slush pile, it’s unlikely Mr. King is going to call me with an offer of blurbdom.  No, I know none of my A-list dream blurbers will actually blurb me, but that won’t stop me from trying to be an advocate for myself.  Sure, the odds are stacked against me even getting a response from that list, but those were the same odds facing me when I was querying for an agent, and, later on, when she was casting around for a book deal.  And yet here I am searching for a blurber.

So what do I have to lose by writing to those great literary titans who I hold in such high regard?  Nothing.  So I’ll send my note, ask my ask, and, in the end, get a fabulous blurb from Marge, that sassy gal at my mother in-law’s bridge game.

And for a nobody with a reputation to match, that’ll be just fine.

4 responses to “The fine art of Blurbery

  • jeffo

    Asking for blurbs is the ultimate form of fishing for compliments. The thing is, some of these people DO read books from unproven writers, because they love a good read. Good luck to you.

  • Dan Newman

    Id’ agree – it is fishing for compliments… but that’s the business. The reality is that no one is going to come up and ask to blurb your book – even if it’s brilliant – before it’s bound and published.

    • jeffo

      I just realized my comment may have come off in a way that I didn’t intend. As someone who is emoticonally-challenged, I sometimes don’t convey my meaning properly. It was not meant to be snarky or nasty or anything like that (and I don’t think your response indicated that you took it that way).

      • Dan Newman

        No worries, Jeff! Electronic communications and intonation are strange bedfellows. I took it the way I think you intended – no snark, just a simple fact! I just appreciate you stopping by to comment!

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The Doubting Writer

A blog by Dan Newman


A blog by Dan Newman

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