Pub Rants

Wash That Blurb Right Out Of My Hair

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STATUS: Hooray! It’s a normal day at the office. No flaming bonfires raging wildly out of control or anything. The two outstanding contracts are close to being complete. I’m doing some reading, some submission follow up, talking to clients. All the fun stuff.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ME EVERY CHANGING MOODS by The Style Council

Here’s a final blurb question. What if you, a published author, are asked to blurb a work and you would like to decline? What do you then say?

Never burn bridges. Always be appreciative and polite because publishing is a small world. Even if you’re thinking, “this is the worst freaking book I’ve read in years.”

You keep that to yourself!

This should be common sense but I’m constantly amazing at how often sense isn’t common. So how to politely say NO to a blurb request.

1. Not the right author for the blurb. If the manuscript is dark and edgy and you as the author only write light and sweet, highlight that as your reason (or insert other similar scenarios). A blurb from you might confuse or alienate your audience. It’s true and no one can take offense.

2. The looming deadline. All authors and editors understand this one and it’s often true. A lot of authors simply can’t squeeze the reading time in if they are on deadline.

3. The oblique but true response. Stay general in sentiment such as the “you just didn’t fall in love with the story response but were very much honored to have been considered and you wish the other author well.”

Happy blurbing (or not as the case may be) folks!

13 Responses

  1. Kalen Hughes said:

    Asking for a blurb is the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done. Far worse than submitting to agents and editors. You’re way out on a limb, asking a HUGE favor of someone you probably worship . . . and you’re terrified that they’ll hate your book.

    I gave the people I asked a Mac-truck-sized out (“I totally understand if you’re too busy right now to do this . . .”) so that they had an easy way to turn me down with no hard feelings. Both writers I asked very clearly said they only blurb work they actually have time to read and that they like, so I was on tenterhooks for weeks . . . luckily for me they both liked the book *GRIN*, but I know I won’t always be so lucky.

  2. GutterBall said:

    I’m waiting for the “Bluuuurb me, blurb me!” post to comment.

    Word ver: eepnmmf – the sound made when seeing a spider in the trash and trying to muffle the terror.

  3. katiesandwich said:

    Love the title of this post, by the way. Of course, the song is stuck in my head now!

    Anywho, how would I decline to blurb a book? If only I had such a problem! Well, I suppose it would depend on the situation. I’d like to think that I’d explain to the author why I didn’t want to blurb it in the same way I explain to people the problems I see in their work when I give a critique. But I’m a huge wimp, so I don’t know if I could be so brave. I’d probably lie and say, “You know, I didn’t have time to read it.” And maybe that makes me evil. I don’t want to be evil; I’d like to not lie. But I can’t say what I’d do if someone put me on the spot about it.

    To gabriele c, who said I need to read Ghosts in the Snow ASAP, I’m starting it as soon as I get off the internet!

  4. A Nonny Mouse said:

    A very good friend asked me to blurb for her boyfriend. I agreed, read the book, and was bored to tears by it. Luckily it did have a few redeeming qualities and I was able to paraphrase in such a way that the author thought it was praise. It was only a very small press and I knew the book wouldn’t sell the way he thought it would, so no harm done. He thanked me, was happy, and I dusted myself off.

    A few months ago he asked me to blurb again, for his second book. This time I had a legitimate excuse: I am up to the ears in “stuff” and my husband is ill. I told him this and said I’d have time in a few months. He was very gracious, withdrew his request, and told me to make time for myself. Phew!

  5. Anonymous said:

    What if you blurbed a book by Ms Author, because you loved it, but her sequel was a stinker? How do you beg off?

  6. Anonymous said:

    Idea for future discussion:
    Friends who reveal themselves as frenemies once an author has signed a book deal.


  7. Jpatrick said:

    I’ve read blurbs where the blurber I don’t think the blurber read the book.

    Oh, and here’s another thought. Surely, somewhere out in the canyons of Publishing, some author has written her own blurbs and just sked others to sign them. No?

  8. Termagant 2 said:

    This discussion is on the wrong topic. An author should not be asked to blurb a book, ever. He/she may blurb or endorse a book voluntarily, if the author is known to them and/or they’ve read the work for sheer enjoyment.

    And publishers should not ask authors to go out and get endorsements. We have better things to do (i.e., writing books) than trying to do the publicity department’s job.


  9. Orhan Kahn said:

    I enjoy blurbs that start with the most interesting part of the book, like an actual passage. That usually gets me hooked. Having the short attention span I guess its all relative.

  10. Vicki "Ten" Pierce said:

    As I mentioned in a response to an earlier blog this week, this is another great reason to have an agent. “My agent says I need to focus on a, b, or c right now. But thank you so much for asking!” 🙂

  11. Anonymous said:

    Good God, NEVER take option #3. Lie if you have to, but if you hate the book, go with #2. Author’s egos are fragile enough as it is.