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Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Author Insight: Book Blurbs

What does a book blurb mean to you as a reader and a writer?

"Funnily enough, as a reader, very little - I almost never consider blurbs when choosing a book to purchase or read. My book is going to press without a blurb, though, and I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed initially. However, I've decided to make up for this by writing my own blurbs on the books during signings, from my own characters. I've already got a list started." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly Departed.

"I really don't read blurbs when I pick up a book. I've usually already talked to people or read something interesting about it, or heard something on public radio.  As a writer, it's a relief to get blurbed, because publishers like that." - Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast.

"As a reader, I don’t tend to pay much attention to blurbs. They’re such short sound-bites. If an author I love takes the time to rave about a book on their blog, then I might be persuaded to check it out.  As a writer, of course I’d love to have the validation of an author I admire publicly saying they love my work, though." - Jessica Spotswood, author of Born Wicked.

"As a reader? Honestly, when I see one I think, "I guess so-and-so (blurber) is friends with so-and-so (blurbee)." I know that's not always true -- Lois Duncan blurbed my book and she wouldn't know me from a hole in the wall. (Is that really an expression? Or did I just make that up?) But it's a small world, and friends do blurb each others' books often. (Not saying there's anything wrong with it. My friend Carrie Jones blurbed mine.)" - Marianna Baer, author of Frost.

"I look at blurbs as bullet points: give me enough to help me understand what I’ll see when I flip to that first page—or to the middle—but don’t go on and on until my eyes merge in the center of my forehead.  Trust me to figure out what the book’s trying to say and don’t get all high-falutin’ either.  I understand the need for broad strokes, but very few things rock my world.  You get my hopes up, I might get pissed.

Similarly, don’t promise what the book can’t deliver or isn’t about.  Nothing ticks me off more than a book which tries to play up, say, a romantic element when that’s really only a tertiary concern.  Trust the story." - Ilsa Bick, author of Ashes.

"Honestly, as a reader, they don’t sway my decision to purchase a book. I care more about the flap copy. As a writer, it feels great to know a fellow author has enjoyed my novel—it’s like being handed a big cupcake! But it’s not something I need to feel validated as a writer." - Angie Frazier, author of The Eternal Sea.

 "As a reader a blurb is a read-alike recommendation. I assume that if I've loved the blurber's books, that I'm going to at least enjoy the blurbee's book. As a writer, it means a fellow author is putting his/her name on the line to say that my book is a read they respected and enjoyed. And that means a hell of a lot." - Stacey Jay, author of Juliet Immortal.

 "As a reader, I'm suspicious of books that don't have blurbs. That's terrible to admit, but it's true. As a writer, they're a great honor to receive. It means that someone else likes your work enough to put their own name on it. I don't take that lightly. Therefore, I don't give blurbs lightly either." - Stephanie Perkins, author of Lola & the Boy Next Door.
"It depends on the blurb and the book. Some books I want to read no matter what anyone says, and other times a blurb from a writer I respect is going to persuade me. As a writer, if someone I love blurbs my book, I do a private little dance which no one will ever see." - Amy Garvey, author of Cold Kiss.
"A book blurb is the single most important tool in selling your book, in my opinion.  It's like the twenty second commercial for your TV show - you've got to hook readers with something interesting quickly or they're not going to tune in to see more." - Gemma Halliday, author of Deadly Cool.

 "A headache! Just kidding. It’s funny I can write a novel, but struggle with a 150 word blurb. It’s getting easier with each book. I’m always dissecting other blurbs to see the magic mixed within—then I check it again after I read the book so see if I glean the same meaning." - Brena Pandos, author of The Emerald Talisman.

"As a writer, it means that someone I respect has spent the time to read my work and to try to frame its meaning.  I have not had a publishing house seek blurbs for my work for years, but recently Tamra Tuller of Philomel, which is publishing my Spanish novel, Small Damages, in the summer of 2012, quietly went about seeking blurbs from extraordinary writers.  I can’t tell you what that meant to me.  As a writer, if I know or like the work of a blurber, and if I know that blurber approaches the industry with integrity, I am inclined to take a close look at the blurbed book." - Beth Kephart, author of You are My Only.
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  1. Hi, Susan, how funny to see this on your site! As a reader, I assume that blurbs are written by the authors' pals, because generally that's how it is.

    I thought I had all the blurbs I needed until I wrote in a different genre and my editor wanted blurbs from YA authors. Lucky for me, you heard how I hate asking for blurbs and asked for me! I never expected that and I'm quite appreciative.

  2. I enjoy reading blurbs! Sometimes if one of my favorite authors blurbs a book then I'll be extra interested in reading it but mostly I just read the blurbs for entertainment value. Especially like the blurbs on the covers of the Mortal Instruments series. They always mention something about the books being "sexy" without fail. It cracks me up. XD