The divine Ms. Larbalestier talks about the etiquette of asking people to blurb your work — and of telling other people who you’ve asked to blurb — over on her blog. Apparently, the proximate cause of the entry is that some of her writer friends have been on the receiving end of bad blurb manners, and Justine wants to help the neo-pros before they do anything stupid, too.
Of particular interest to me is this piece of advice:
- Never claim to have a blurb from an author if that is not the case. If the author in question has agreed to look at your book with the possibilty of providing a blurb that DOES NOT mean they are going to blurb you. I looked at several books last year and blurbed none of them. The author has agreed to read your book NOTHING more. If you go around boasting that you have a blurb when you don’t odds are it will get back to the author, who will then be much less inclined to blurb you. This is a very small industry. Word gets around.
This last point leads to a bigger point: Anyone who advises you that lying: claiming blurbs you don’t have, doctoring your publications list, claiming non-existent connections etc. etc. is a good way to get “your foot in the door” is full of it.
It’s really interesting to me how many new and wannabe writers actually need to be reminded of this — I guess the idea is that ambition excuses all dickheadedness in the long run. Sorry, it doesn’t. Justine notes that “finding out that someone you have NEVER met is using your name to get ahead is vastly cranky-making”; this is true, but Justine, because she’s a nice person, doesn’t go far enough on this. What needs to be said is this: When you lie about someone blurbing your work (or recommending it, or being your friend, or whatever), what you’re doing is dragging their good name along with your opportunistically lying bad name. When they find out — and they almost certainly will, since these are the sort of lies that only work in public — they’re going to react the way most people react when lies are told about them in public. And that’s not going to work out well for you.
Certainly if I found out someone was lying about my association with them, I would go out of my way to make sure everyone knew what a lying sack of crap they were. And at this point I have a fairly loud megaphone. Other people might (might) be nicer about it than I would be, but the ultimately the end result is the same. Best not to shoot one’s career in the foot is the general idea here, especially when what you should be doing is putting your best foot forward.
In any event, go over to Justine’s read the whole entry, and take heed of her words. She is wise in the ways of blurbing.