Blubbering About Blurbs

I got back from El Paso to find three emails from authors asking me if I would blurb their books. I’m always astonished that anyone want a blurb from me.  I mean c’mon, who is going to buy a book because Lee Goldberg says he likes it?  Who the hell is Lee Goldberg?

(Uh-oh, there I go talking about myself in the third person. Who do I think I am? A professional athlete?)

I’ve only blurbed a few over the years… Aimee & David Thurlo’s Ella Clah novels, Doug Lyle’s "Forensics for Dummies,"  Lono Waiwaiole’s "Wiley’s Shuffle," Paul Bishop’s "Tequila Mockingbird," Richard Yokley’s "TV Firefighters,"  Lewis Perdue’s upcoming novel, and a couple of others, and was flattered to be asked… though it puts me in an awkward position. What if I don’t like the books?   I have the same philosophy about blurbing that my friend, the much-better-looking-in-a t-shirt-than-me, author Gregg Hurwitz does:

No matter how much talent you have, to make it in publishing, you
always need the right help from the right people at the right time.
Call it luck, call it fate, call it whatever you please, but though
hard work and talent are a necessity (usually), few novelists I’ve met
have gotten by on these alone. I caught some breaks early in my career,
and I’m always grateful to those who read my work early and took a
gamble, putting in their time and making use of their contacts for me. Though writing is fiercely independent, I do see a responsibility to
give back to the community, to pass along the good karma that I’ve been
fortunate enough to receive. I don’t give back to the writing community
by telling author who need improvement that their books are fantastic,
and I don’t give back to the reading community by endorsing crap.

I’ve been able to politely decline the requests for blurbs over the last year because of my accident, the huge amount of writing I had to do, and the scary deadlines I had to meet.
This is the first time in months that my workload has eased up enough
for me to have the opportunity to read any manuscripts besides my own.

Over the years I have imposed on a lot of my friends (and authors I don’t know but whom I admire) for blurbs and many have been kind enough to come through for me. The least I can do is return
the favor… if not to the same authors, than to others. As it happens, these three authors are folks I’ve never asked for a blurb for my own work.

I only have a couple of caveats when it comes to blurbing:  I won’t blurb anything from the likes of PublishAmerica or other vanity presses and I won’t blurb anything I didn’t truly enjoy reading.  None of the three books I’m being asked to blurb are self-published and the authors say they won’t be hurt if, for whatever reason, I decide not to blurb their books. So I said yes, I’d read their manuscripts. Whether I actually decide to blurb them or not is a different story…

UPDATE (3-1-05) By way of  Diary of a Hype Hag comes this link to Adam Langer’s amusing article on the craft of  blurbing…

2 thoughts on “Blubbering About Blurbs”

  1. I’d be interested in hearing your views on Lew’s case against Dan Brown. I just finished Daughter and am half-way through DL and Angels & Demons. While the skeleton is similar, the actual writing sure isn’t the same. Kind the same thing as my Benedict Arnold story. I can’t protect the subject so I don’t see how Lew can in retrospect. If I see my research used without citation I will file, since I copyrighted that citation trail.

  2. “So I said yes, I’d read their manuscripts. Whether I actually decide to blurb them or not is a different story…”
    Can’t ask fairer than that. Not that it stops some authors from trying, though …

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