A Reminder to Authors About Blurbs


Please, if you’re thinking of asking me to blurb your work, take a look at my blurb policy, which is available here, and is linked off the front page of Whatever (as well as every other page on the WordPress install).

I mention it because I’ve gotten several direct requests for blurbs from authors recently, and as noted in the policy, I really do insist on blurb requests coming from editors/publishers rather than directly from authors. This is not only to avoid the awkward thing of possibly telling someone, “Dude, I don’t like your book enough to blurb it,” but also the separate-but-still-awkward thing of saying to an author, “Dude, I did want to blurb your book, but I lost track of time and didn’t get the blurb over to your editor in time.” So I just say “no” up front and have done with it.

If it goes through the editor/publisher, on the other hand, the author never has to know of my lack of enthusiasm/lack of basic organizational competence. And, you know. I prefer that.

Yes, this is a totally self-interested policy, and quite possibly it makes me look a bit like a dick. You’re asking for a blurb; I’m allowed to set conditions for my participation. These are my conditions, and I feel I’ve done a reasonable amount to make those conditions easy to find.

So, again, please, read the policy before you ask me to blurb your work. Thank you.

25 Comments on “A Reminder to Authors About Blurbs”

  1. “If it goes through the editor/publisher, on the other hand, the author never has to know of my lack of enthusiasm/lack of basic organizational competence.”

    So if it goes through the editor, we can assume for our own sake that it’s because you’re organizationally incompetent, and not that we are terrible writers. That’s actually a really great arrangement.

  2. Actually, in my experience the editor asks the writer who his/her dream list of blurbers is and then says they’ll try to get some of them. That way everyone is covered.

  3. If you read it enough, the word “blurb” loses its meaning and starts to look like a word for some kind of hideous bodily malfunction. “Dude, he blurbed all over the bathroom floor!”

  4. OK, I’m not a witer, so please WTF is a blurb, and more importantly why does it require a policy?

  5. to #10 MVS: A blurb is a quote from someone, usually an author, that the publisher of a book puts on the cover of said book to encourage sales. For example, “Author Y says, ‘Author X is a worthy successor to Robert Heinlein…'” or some such statement. Publishers believe that these quotes help sales, and they might, I don’t know.

    I *wish* I had finished a book so it *could* get a blurb…

  6. Fletcher@8: If you say your own name often enough it starts to lose meaning. Do it in front of a mirror and you can almost see your identity leaking out of your nose. It’s pretty rad.

  7. Please mock name the hapless writers who neglected to read the policy. After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity as long as you spell their names right. Right?

  8. A business question:

    What’s a blurb worth, anyway? As a reader, I don’t know that any blurbs have ever registered as factors in any of my book purchasing decisions, as I usually only see them when I’m in the store, actually holding the book in my grubby little mitts, at which point, I have the synopsis, and often, an excerpt on the frontspiece.

    The only other place I ever see them are in print advertisements, but that’s usually in magazines where I’m reading more in depth reviews of books.

    Add to this the publishers’ penchant to print author blurb, “Random Writer is an amazing new talent! – John Scalzi,” or blurbs for previous books, “The book before this one was a ripping good yarn! – John Scalzi,” and they become useless as purchase factors.

    Can a blurb be worth more than a fraction of percentage point in sales?

  9. It only makes you look like a dick to people who feel entitled to make demands on your time. You know who’s entitled to make such demands, and I’m betting that generally speaking those asking for the blurbs aren’t on that list.

  10. While like any other unpublished(and unfinished) novelist, I would like a blurb when I finish this 400 pound weight on my back, I thank you for having a fair policy. Blurbs that are unearned( or channeled though devious methods) are referred to as ‘logrolling’ [yes, You know, some of your readers don’t] and that smacks of bribery of the worst sort. If my work is good enough, a publisher will find someone noteworthy to read it and give a comment. If you don’t like it, well, hey, I hope someone outside of my family does. Thanks for having a blog where we newer authors can learn from your experiences.

  11. bkd69 @ #18:
    A business question: What’s a blurb worth, anyway?

    I know people who will read / listen to / eat / wash their hair in anything Neil Gaiman blurbs or even name-checks on his blog. He has a very passionate fan base who trust his taste a lot.

    And Clive Barker has been blunt that his famous blurb from Stephen King (“I have seen the future of horror, and his name is…”) brought a lot of attention to a basically unknown British writer, whose American début was six volumes of horror stories when short fiction was considered commercial Kryptonite.

    Of course, there’s an art to the blurb. I rather doubt Tor would solicit a blurb from Stephanie Meyer for John Scalzi’s next novel. Just not that much overlap in their audiences. But if I’d written a YA ‘paranormal romance’, I’d sell my mother into sex slavery for an endorsement like that — especially one that cost me and my publisher nothing.

  12. What is a blurb worth?

    Six pounds of flax.

    No, wait. It’s wash your bowl.

    Ah shit. I hate publishing koans.

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