Fuse #8

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Blurbing

Maybe Lisa Yee's recent comment regarding her blurb for Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree made me think of this. Maybe it's the warm spring weather and the dogwood (or whatever the heck it is) that's poised to bloom outside the Central Children's Room window. In any case, it's springtime and a young woman's thoughts inevitably turn to blurbing. It's an odd thing, isn't it? The thought that I like this author therefore, ipso facto, I like this NEW author too. Nice and simple.

The post Blurbing Blurbage (I could not in good conscience steal this, though every corpuscle in my body was screaming to do just that) is a great bit from an established writer on how he narrows down the books he'd care to blurb. The perils of success are fraught with (to quote Roger Sutton against his will) hurty feelings.

Via Shaken & Stirred.

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At 8:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued that Lisa Yee says she blurbed EMMA-JEAN LAZARUS FELL OUT OF A TREE because it "deserves to be read". What if it didn't have a blurb? Would people have turned it over and thought to themselves "oh, nobody would blurb it -- not worth reading"?

Blurbing is branding -- part of the marketing plan. I recently went through this getting-a-blurb business for the first time, and I will say that most of who-should-blurb-it discussion revolved around who knew whom and people who might owe other people favors.

Now possibly this is saying something about my book (and I will be leaving my name off this one). But maybe it reflects something about the business. Does a blurb really mean anything? Or is it just something to be "got"? What if you don't know the right people? And your agent and editor don't either?

In the end, I did get a lovely blurb, from a writer I admire terrifically. So now the blurb has replaced the book excerpt that used to be on the back cover of my book. But does the average kid-in-the-library really getting a better idea of what the book is about?

At 9:01 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

That's what I liked about the article I linked to. In the end, some people think it's only the biggest possible names that make any difference. The Neil Gaimans of the world. To my mind, it doesn't really make any difference to the kids, but to the reviewers it may affect whether or not they pick up a book for consideration. If I see Tamora Pierce has blurbed something, I may be more inclined to give it a once over. Mind you, that isn't to say that I haven't read a blurbed book by someone I admired in the past only to finish the novel and then say to the blurb afterwards, "Really? Really really?"

At 9:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, exactly. The whole process can put both the blurbers and the blurbees in difficult positions. Typically an author agrees to blurb a book before he or she has read it -- obvious problem there! What if there is nothing nice to say (in this one writer's opinion)?

And what if the author goes ahead and writes a lukewarm blurb? I know of at least one situation where a big-name writer took the time to blurb a book but the blurb itself was, shall we shall, underwhelming. Now everyone is uncomfortable. Should they use it? Can they just toss it after this person has done them such a favor? Was this the big name's way of saying "No, I can't really blurb this book after all?"

I guess the bigger question is, should writers be mixed up in this at all? If others are doing it, can new writers afford NOT to? It's a sort of prisoners' dilemma.

-- still me.

At 12:13 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

And now, oh irony of ironies, I've just been informed that for the very first time I'm going to be blurbed on the back of Ralph Fletcher's, "Moving Day". I just found out 3 seconds ago. Kismet. They asked my permission too, which is just darling.

At 1:46 PM , Blogger Gail Gauthier said...

Always keep in mind that a blurb is free advertising for the blurber. It's in his best interests to like the book to get his names on it cover where that other author's readers will see it. The blurber's name recognition goes up on someone else's dime.

If the blurbee has a track record, I prefer to see quotes from reviewers of her earlier books.

At 5:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What this tells me is that your name recognition and reputation are growing by leaps and bounds, Betsy!

At 7:28 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Nah. But they're mentioning NYPL, which DOES have name recognition and reputation. I'm-ah gonna be the next Anne Carroll Moore, I is.

At 8:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of who owes whom a favor, I just noticed that Ann Brashares blurbed Jodi Lynn Anderson's book PEACHES.


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