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Joined: 24 Jul 2009
Posts: 29
Location: San Francisco Bay area
Blurbs?  Reply with quote  

After reading the post about asking favors from established writers, I'm hesitant to post this, but what's the protocall for asking a writer to 'blurb' me?

My manuscript is about to be presented to some agents (on my behalf, from an established writer who volunteered to pitch it for me, BTW).

Don't wanna put the cart before the horse, but I'm kind of curious about the whole blurb thing.

Sorry, BTW, for verbing a noun. Dang, I just did it again!
No one will give me the time to write. I have to take the time.

Post Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:42 am   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 07 Mar 2004
Posts: 1582
Location: Massachusetts
Re: Blurbs?  Reply with quote  

Short answer is, you don't.

Most authors aren't going to look at an unpublished manuscript, or even want to be in the same room with one.

Couple-few reasons for this:

Authors are approached for blurbs for books that are actually already under contract all the time. Many times, they have to decline those because, well, if all they do is read and blurb other peoples' books, when are they going to write their own? They tend to pick and choose what they're going to put time in on very carefully. Also, if they agree to blurb something and then hate it, that's, y'know, pretty awkward.

Sometimes, they'll blurb someone because that person blurbed them in the past. Sometimes there's a debut novel their editor (or another imprint at their publisher) is putting out, and their editor asks them to do it as a favor, to help give the new kid on the block a boost.

Sometimes, they just plain ol' liked something.

(I'm pretty sure Chris has talked about blurbs here before, but my search-fu is failing me.)

So, that's with stuff that they know is coming out from another publisher sometime soon. Now, imagine being asked to support something from someone you don't know, and whose book hasn't even been pitched yet, let alone bought. You run a few risks there:

--You read the book and say nice things about it. It doesn't sell. Ten years later, you write a book and put one of the characters in a flowered dress. A month after it's published you get an angry letter from that person you were kind enough to say nice things about, screeching that "OMG AUNT EDNA WORE A FLOWERED DRESS ON PAGE 80 OF THE MANUSCRIPT YOU BLURBED FOR ME, THEREFORE IT'S ALL STOLEN AND I'M GOING TO SUE." Even if, aside from that dress, ain't nothing the same from one book to the other, congratulations! You might be looking at a lawsuit, no matter how unfounded and preposterous.

--You agree to take a look. You can't say anything nice about the manuscript because it needs a lot of work. Writer trash talks you to anyone who will listen, telling them that you're a stuck-up jerk who doesn't want anyone else to succeed, ever. Also, you big meanie, it's obviously your fault their book didn't sell because you clearly must have put out an email to the Big Mailing List of Literary Agents and Editors* and sabotaged their chances.

--You take a look. You say nice things, but for whatever reason, it still doesn't sell. Now it's your fault because clearly, you didn't push hard enough. Why didn't you use your considerable influence in the publishing world to make a contract happen for that random dude you did a favor for, you big heartless meanie? Or, possibly, you've opened yourself up to this writer prefacing everything with "Joe Bestseller said my book was awesome" like you're the bestest of friends.

Are these things you (Glennergy) would do? Proooobably not. But enough other people have that it makes authors leery of putting themselves out there like that.

There are, I'm sure, exceptions to the rule. If the writer's a good friend of yours, or offered to blurb it in the first place, for example. But in general, blurbs happen when your manuscript has been accepted by a publisher and you have a contract in hand. Your editor might ask who you'd like to request a blurb from, but it's absolutely not a guarantee. Neither is it an obligation for those authors to do so just because they're asked.

And, it's not you that'd do the asking, it's your editor. Who, I believe, will ask that writer's editor, or their agent, or their publicist, or whoever is in charge of these things. I'm looking at some quotes we've received about a few of our books right now, and the email came from the editors, so, that's why I'm saying it's the editors that'll do the asking.

You've got one writer standing behind it. His or her word is a nice start, but the most important thing, the thing that will actually sell your work, is if you wrote a good book. The most glowing quotes in the world don't matter once the agent starts reading your material.

Concentrate on your book. Or, since that manuscript's already out in the world, concentrate on your next book. Agents and editors are going to be more interested to hear that you're working on new material than they are in a quote from another author.

Good luck!

*does not actually exist
Well, I guess you left me with some feathers in my hand.

Post Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:53 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address ICQ Number

Joined: 24 Jul 2009
Posts: 29
Location: San Francisco Bay area
 Reply with quote  

Thanks for helping not make a fool of myself, Lauren. Or at least a bigger fool.

I'll let the pros handle this stuff.
No one will give me the time to write. I have to take the time.

Post Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:33 pm   View user's profile Send private message
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