Getting Book Endorsements (Blurbs): What to Remember, Do, Avoid, and Expect

From Jane Friedman:

Seeking blurbs—that is, quotes and endorsements—is a pre-publication task that most writers absolutely hate.

However, unless yours is a front-list title from a major publishing house (in which case the publisher may get the blurbs for you), securing those important words of praise is up to you, the author. Not your agent or editor or publicist. You.

That means you have to ask established authors—people you may not know, who may have no particular reason for wanting to help you—to spend a significant chunk of time reading your book, write nice things about it, and affix their names to it forever-and-ever.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would say yes to such an audacious request, yet people do, all the time; hardly a book is issued nowadays that doesn’t include a quote or two. The challenge isn’t how to get authors to provide blurbs; it’s how to get them to blurb your book.

With my third novel gearing up for release, I’ve been through the process three times. In some ways, the process has been similar each time, since behavior is shaped by temperament, and I’m still me. In other ways, it’s been different, since I’ve learned from experience (that is, from my mistakes).

I’ve also been on the receiving end of blurb requests. Experiencing the “blurb-seeking” process from the both sides of the desk has been quite illuminating. As I reflect on my responses and behavior as a potential blurber, I have new insight into the impact of my own actions—and, I suspect, the actions of others like me—as a hopeful blurbee.

. . . .

Unless the blessing of a specific expert is sought, I think it’s fair to say (in general) that who blurbs is more important than their exact words. “An engaging read” from a New York Times bestselling author with instant name recognition is, for most readers, more compelling than “one of the most fantastic books ever written” from someone they’ve never heard of. At the same time, getting that New York Times bestselling author to read and praise your book is hardly a slam-dunk.

For most of us, blurb-seeking is a balancing act between the clout of the potential blurber (aiming high) and the likelihood of obtaining a usable quote (aiming safe). Certainly, there’s nothing to be lost—except time—in writing to every famous author you admire in the hope that one of them will come through. On the other hand, there are so many pre-publication tasks that it’s hard to justify spending so much energy on a pursuit that’s unlikely to yield results—and what kind of results? How many blurbs do we actually need? Is quantity just as good as an A-list quote?

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

PG is of two minds about blurbs.

If the blurb is describing a traditionally-published book and is from another traditionally-published author, PG suspects that “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” is almost certainly in operation.

The blurbs that fall in this category often sound more like headlines than any indication that the blurber has actually read much of the blurbee’s book. The blurb could be applied to almost any other book of the same genre.

For indie books, PG finds that reviews from readers are more useful for him. He looks at them with a skeptical eye because who knows what’s going on in the reviewer’s head, but a little informal content analysis leads him to quickly decide if the reviewer sounds reasonably intelligent and reads the review with that in mind.

Since PG invariably reads a preview of any book he’s going to purchase before spending his hard-earned sheckels, he feels more informed about whether he’ll like the book or not than by a blurb from anyone else, famous or otherwise.

2 thoughts on “Getting Book Endorsements (Blurbs): What to Remember, Do, Avoid, and Expect”

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    That’s my decision-tree as a reader with the last on the list carrying about 0.01% weight. I don’t begrudge anyone seeking blurbs and using them for marketing purposes. Blurbs may cause a potential reader to click an ad, but I’m skeptical the average reader makes a final decision based on the blurbs in the first couple of pages. I’m happy to be proven wrong.

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