Archiving for Posterity: A Twitter Thread on Book Blurbing, 5/13/23
Archiving here for the sake of posterity (and not relying on Twitter for it; they’ve gone wonky, alas, so this is a cut and paste job)
1. To reiterate this once again for everyone: If you see me blurbing a book, it’s because I have actually read the fucking thing and I liked it enough to say so in public. I (and I daresay Neil) don’t have to blurb a goddamned thing for self-promotion.
2. A blurb won’t make or break a book, but they certainly can have an effect on the margins – several is the time where someone has told me they found a new favorite book because they saw my blurb for it and that helped them to take a chance on it. That makes me happy. It worked.
3. I think it’s easy to be cynical about blurbs and I think it’s reasonable to take them with a grain of salt (the bit about good authors sometimes having bad taste is… not wrong). But the heart of blurbing is authors being actual READERS and being excited to share new books.
4. Can you understand that when I blurbed, say, Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars, I was trying to convey my actual *sheer delight* at a wonderful story told in a way that I as a writer never could, and I as a reader felt was something new under the sun? How cool is that?
5. Did I know Ryka before I blurbed the book? Nope. Did I feel I owed a blurb because Tor is my publisher? Ask the Tor editors how many books of theirs I pass on (spoiler: Most). Did I do it to spin a web of self-promoting obligation? Fuck, that’s WORK, and I’m lazy.
6. I get nothing tangible from blurbing (aside from having read a book); I want nothing from anyone for doing it; no author or editor is obliged to me if I do blurb a book. If a book I blurb succeeds, I may joke about my power, but the author and book did the real work.
7. I get tired of everyone suggesting blurbs are mostly just a quid-pro-quo activity. There absolutely has been logrolling, but the day-to-day reality of it is editors reaching out and saying “I have this book, I love it so much, I think you’ll love it too, can I send it to you?”
8. Mostly I have to say no. I have very little time and I always – always – have five or six books in my “read for blurbs” folder on my computer. Even when I say “yes, send it,” I bounce off most of the books – some bad, some meh, some very good, but not for me.
9. Beyond that, you know what? If my name is going to be on someone else’s fucking cover, then I’m not gonna have it associated with something (or someone!) I think is trash, just to be nice. I’m not that nice, people. My name means something to *me,* and I have standards.
10. You may or may not like a book I blurb; my taste may not be your taste. But if you see my name on a book, talking about it specifically, you’ll know this for sure: That book? I think it’s worth reading. Hopefully you’ll think so, too. That’s it, that’s all. Nothing else.