Pub Rants

No Freewheelin’ With The Blurb Endorsements

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STATUS: It was quiet for one day. I can’t even believe I said it was quiet yesterday. Plenty to do between now and Thursday. Won’t be in the office on Friday and of course, no blogging.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DEMOLITION MAN by The police

I’m not really going to tally the results this time. Yesterday’s “poll” was more about creating a discussion around blurbs. For an author who is receiving the blurb endorsement, it’s an incredible feeling. That someone way more established than you (or famous) thought your novel worthy of praise. It’s big validation for a debut author in a world where there aren’t many validating moments outside of sales performance. And I always think of it as incredibly generous for an established author to do. When done right, it takes a lot of time to read a novel and it takes even more time to think of a short, pithy blurb that really captures the author’s emotion about it.

Try writing one for a favorite book of yours just as practice. It’s not easy.

For readers, it seems a mixed bag. I do know that booksellers and publishers absolutely do believe that blurb endorsements help to sell books.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned:

1. The author name has to be pretty big—as in immediately recognizable—for it to make an impact.

2. Readers do feel it’s part of the advertising.

3. Authors should not be too carefree about what they blurb as that can shape reader perception—of the blurbed books and for the books that author writes. Blurb only books where the endorsement is really meant.

4. Many readers find it helpful. That maybe they’ll try a new author they might not otherwise if a favorite author has blurbed the book.

5. The text of the blurb is just as important as the blurb itself. Faked enthusiasm is recognizable.

12 Responses

  1. Dave Kuzminski said:

    Very wise words and very true words.

    I’ve been asked to provide blurbs because I operate P&E. So far, I’ve blurbed only three that I can recall over the past 12 years and it’s extremely difficult to say something meaningful.

    On the other hand, I received a free copy so I could read it fully before offering a blurb if I felt it rated one. In those three cases, I received some excellent books.

  2. Jim C. Hines said:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been asked for two blurbs this year, which is a new experience for me, so I’m still trying to figure it all out. This helped.

  3. Gabrielle said:

    Good thoughts, Kristen. Blurbs for me only work if it’s one of my Top 5 authors, and only if they say something specific (“You want to marry and bear the children of this hero, and then file his Medicare, etc., etc.”).

    Congratulations to you and Janice on “The Pain Merchants”! I just saw it on Publisher’s Lunch. It sounds like a moving and original story; can’t wait to read the full thing.

  4. Chumplet said:

    I was once asked to do a blurb for a fellow author for an e-book. My only credit was that I was e-published first.

    Since we both belonged to the same writer’s group, I had seen many of her chapters and was enthusiastic about the story.

    I only hope my blurb helped.

    When (not if) my turn comes for a blurb by a established author, I think I’ll have a few names to draw from. I’ve been fortunate to make several friends along the way and I’m confident someone will treat my next novel with the enthusiasm it deserves.

  5. Anonymous said:

    That wasn’t quite what I gleaned from skimming over the responses. I thought the majority here thought these endorsements were a waste of space?

  6. Julie Weathers said:


    As I said before, if an established author deigned to write a blurb about my book, I would be giddy with excitement.

    I guess I got burned long ago, right about the time Last Tango In Paris came out, by ringing endorsements of books and movies. It’s interesting to see books blurbed, but I am still making up my own mind by reading samples of the writing.

  7. 150 said:

    Really? From reading the comments I gathered the opposite of #4; that blurbs are infrequently noticed and almost never the deciding factor.

  8. cedunkley said:

    As a reader, I do check out the Author Blurbs. Now, if one of my favorite authors was providing such I’d at least open the book and read the first page.

    One thing author blurbs also accomplish (at least for me) is, if I’m unfamiliar with the author providing the blurb, I’ll walk over and find that author’s books to see who this author is that rates providing a blurb.

    So, while I won’t buy a book just because a favorite author recommends it, I do find them helpful for the reasons stated above.

  9. Anonymous said:

    I agree with Kristin’s summary that blurbs are noticed. Many of the comments said that the blurbs weren’t the deciding factor, but the simple fact that people noticed when books had blurbs definitely indicates that they carry some weight – even if only subconsciously.

  10. Drew said:

    With my first novel coming out in September, I can say that the author blurbs I’ve received have generated advanced interest in the book. With only a positive PW review and the blurbs to its credit–ok, the jacket copy is on my web site–I’ve heard from a fair amount of people that they’ve pre-ordered the book based on a few of the writers who were generous enough to provide some very kind words to a newbie.