Pub Rants

The Art Of The Blurb Request

 18 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: I think I need more hours in the day.

What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? OBLIVIOUS by Aztec Camera

(haven’t heard this song in years!)

Most authors remember their humble beginnings and really do want to pay it forward by offering a blurb to a newer writer. They remember vividly what it’s like to be in those shoes! It’s part of the writer’s code.

Even with noble intentions, most writers who experience success end up having to put a moratorium on offering blurbs for a couple of reasons. It can be something as simple as receiving so many requests, it ends up not being physically possible. Sometimes it comes down to politics and the only way to be fair is to simply say NO to everyone that asks.

So just a couple of things to keep in mind if you are a writer requesting a blurb.

1. Make it personal. The blurb requests that are seriously considered come from authors who include a heartfelt note as to why they are making this request to this particular author. Trust me, it makes a difference.

2. Follow the established protocol if one is stated. Authors often publically say that requests must be channeled via the agent or editor (even if you have a personal connection to that successful author). If it’s not publically stated, always offer to go through the agent or editor if that is what the author preferred.

(The hardest part for successful authors is feeling guilty about turning down a request. Some opt to place a moratorium instead just to avoid the complications of feeling guilty or the difficulty of saying no. It’s a terribly awkward place to be in.)

3. If the response is a NO, be professional and gracious. Should go without saying but you’d be surprise at some of the responses received.

Some day (and hopefully soon), you just might be in those successful author shoes facing the dilemma: to blurb or not to blurb!

18 Responses

  1. Remilda Graystone said:

    I don’t know what I’d do in a situation like that, since I’m nowhere near that place, but from this side of the pond–the unpublished, it-would-be-awesome-to-just-have-a-finally-edited-manuscript side–I think I’d say no to everyone to avoid feeling guilty. I usually can’t be guilt-tripped into doing things, but in this area…I’d feel absolutely horrible and end up paying for it.

    Anyways, thanks for the insight.

  2. Liesl said:

    Great advice. I was wondering how one would go about that, even if they know the author.

    Going to conferences and taking classes and clinics from established authors is a great way to get possible blurbs. I took a class where the author offered to give us all a blurb when we get published, (small class) but even if they don’t offer, at least mentioning the connection is a nice segue-way into the request and it will make sense to them why you would ask them for a blurb.

  3. Joseph L. Selby said:

    If you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with authors in your field, what do you do? Just email them out of the blue and say, I’ve written a book. I’m a huge fan of yours. I would love to have a blurb from you to put on the back cover?

  4. Anonymous said:

    I’ve never made a blurb request. However, my first book was blurbed by Frightfully Famous Authors that my publishers published. I was very grateful, especially since one of the FFAs appeared to have actually read my book.

    I wondered if these FFAs got paid?

  5. Roni Loren said:

    Great advice! I had no idea how this was done (until Sara guided me through the process). It had never occurred to me that I’d actually approach authors in some cases.

    Luckily, the authors I did approach have been incredibly kind and generous. And having a personal connection made a huge difference. Yet another reason for networking and joining your local writers group while you’re still pre-published. 🙂

  6. Kristin Laughtin said:

    I want to facepalm at the idea that some authors don’t respond gracefully when their blurb requests are denied, but…well, I’ve been reading agent blogs too long. Turned-down authors: acting this way will not help you!

    My dilemma will be, if I am published someday and soliciting a blurb from an author I really admire, not fangirling too much. Play it cool as you show your admiration, Kristin…

  7. E.H. Foster said:

    Within the etiquette of publishing, is sending boxed chocolates along with a personalized, handwritten plea… er… request for a blurb, considered uncouth?

  8. Queen of the Road said:

    Two of the best blurbs I got came by chance, after publication. (It’s never too late. They went on my website, Amazon page and subsequent printings.) Two very famous authors happened to read my book and emailed me on their own, just to say how much they enjoyed it. Since no good deed goes unpunished, I emailed back asking for blurbs and got them! I thought the entire thing was incredibly kind of them. Truly paying it forward.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Timely topic for me. I just got my 1st request to blurb a book. I’ve known the writer for years and it’s a local press, so I told them I could do it, if they sent it to me in April when I was between deadlines.
    But they didn’t send me the book, and now my next deadline is upon me, and I can’t read it and respond, even though I really want to. I feel terrible.

    Was there a better way I could have handled this?

  10. Phoenix Sullivan said:

    Asking for a blurb from a NY Times Bestselling, Very Famous Person was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve done on the writing front. Having her break a long-standing “no blurbs” policy to blurb my book put me right over the moon. Having her do it for a self-published ebook was even more thrilling. But I would never have gotten to a yes without asking.

    Writers face rejection every time they approach an industry pro. Be tough-skinned, be convicted, be polite, and persevere. Then hope luck is on your side :o)

  11. Sara Creasy said:

    After reading Kristin’s tips (and benefiting from them first-hand), I’ve written a blog post about my own experience getting cover blurbs for my debut novel. Luck is a factor, but as with this entire industry there are ways to boost your luck.

  12. Natalie J. Damschroder said:

    Another tip:

    If you ask an author to blurb your book and she does, it’s very rude to then go on blog sites and say what an awful author she is and how you write better than she does.

  13. Stephen M. Swartz said:

    One question nobody seems to be asking: Do you choose who to ask simply based on who’s your favorite author or should you ask an author who writes similar books (and who thus may not want competition, heh heh) or at least in the same genre? Maybe they are the same, maybe not.

  14. Genevieve said:

    This is all (scary) news to me. My wonderful publisher did all of the legwork and soliciting of the blurbs for my first picture book. Keep Your Ear on the Ball (Tilbury 2007) is about a blind boy in a sighted classroom, so my blurbs were graciously and beautifully done by a blind athlete, and people from the American Printing House for the Blind, and the National Federation of the Blind. My only input was to say, “Wow.”

  15. Amber Lin said:

    This was too funny. I have followed this blog forever, including now, but I go on google to search “request for blurb” and find this post. I’m thinking it’s from the archives, until I checked the timestamp – wait! This just came out and didn’t even hit my RSS reader yet.

    Yeah, I am also curious about how close a book should be to mine for me to request a blurb. Same genre, sure, but that’s a wide range.

    Also, I have some contacts, but should I use them for my blurb requests? I’d almost feel more comfortable requesting from a stranger, not to risk a relationship.