Trolling for Blurbs
Every author of lesser stature than John Grisham or Anne Tyler seeks out “blurbs” for their jacket cover and publicity documents on a new book. Personally, I’ve never been sure blurbs were worth a whole lot. My first book “In Broad Daylight” got no blurbs whatsoever, yet won an Edgar and sold over a million copies. My second book, “Once Upon A Time,” got great blurbs from well-known authors yet never found real traction.
Yet, more than once I’ve found myself buying a book off the rack because of the endorsement of an author I really liked. Often to be disappointed, I might add. If the blurbs are too clever or too dramatic or from complete unknowns, I ignore them. If it seems that a little thought has gone into them, I pay attention.
I’m sure that readers suspect that friends give friends blurbs, whether they like the book or not. Some authors blurb every book they’re asked to because they think it increases their visibility. I’ve heard these people referred to as “blurb whores.” Some writers won’t blurb at all, for anyone, mainly, I suspect, because they think they’re above it all.
Those writers piss me off. I guess they’re forgotten the early days when they needed, and certainly received, help from others. I remember quite well when I was at the bottom of the heap, and I remember who helped me out. So, I will read whatever is sent to me. I end up blurbing about half of them, and I try to say something at least half-way original.
In my new book, “The Joy of Killing,” blurb-hunting is a little more difficult than usual, because I’m changing genres, moving from True Crime to Literary Thrillers (Fiction). I want to keep my old readers, while attracting new ones. Who are the authors who write literary thrillers and how do I get to them? My agent and editor and I have brainstormed a list, and galleys went out to about ten authors who agreed to read the book a week or so ago.
One author responded that she was too busy to actually read the book, but if I would draft several possible blurbs she would see if there was one she liked. Another, a strong female voice in literary fiction, sent me a fabulous blurb, which, were it not for my humble nature, I would include in this very post.
Perhaps ego will eventually overcome this reluctance and I will post two or three of the best when (not if) they come in.