Blurbing A Book: What It Is, What It Means, And Other Questions

Lets begin.

Note that I am not guaranteed to understand what Im speaking about, and nothing I say should be considered Writ Law on any such matter. Whatever I say is as unfirm as pudding. Mm. Pudding.

So, I started talking a bit about blurbs on books over yonder hills at Twitter, and it became clear that a lot of folks, even other writers new to this whole CHAOS CIRCUS, do not even completely comprehend them. Hell, maybe I do not even comprehend them. Its possible theyre some type of Idea Virus, some Memetic Parasite and we authors have been passing them around from book to book? Whatever. Point is, I figure since I hit my early morning word count currently, and Im attempting not to DOOMSCROLL, I d talk a bit about blurbs, in a sort of FAQ design.

What the hell is a blurb?

Yeah, thats a blurb. You may see others on the back cover, and then often a bunch more inside the book.

Its a terrible word, for one. Like BLOG, BLURB just sounds fucking weird. BLEURB. BLOOORB. BLIRRRRB. Anyway, what it actually is, besides an unusual word, is– well, you know how you look at a book and its got some talk about the cover from another author? Like–.

” THIS MADE MY NIPPLES SING LIKE HAPPY CRICKETS, A TRUE TOUR DE FORCE”– Chnurk Mandog, Topeka Times Bestselling Author of 151 Ways To Eat Ghosts.

Wait, I believed a blurb was the books description?

Uhhh yeah thats also true. The thing we sometimes call flap copy, cover copy, back cover copy, or just the “book description,” individuals likewise call a book blurb.

How does one get a blurb?

You ask. Or someone asks on your behalf, which is ideal. A representative, editor or authors asks the author– often through their agent or editor– to have a look at the book and supply a sassy, marketing-speaky line of text about a book.

How do you prefer to get blurbs?

Well, in a perfect world, Im not included. Preferably, an editor says, “Heres a list of who we think might blurb this, do you have any names to add/subtract,” and then theyre the ones who send out the message, HEY, CHNURK MANDOG HAS A NEW BOOK ITS FULL OF WORDS THAT DEMAND YOUR MARKETING-FRIENDLY SONG OF PRAISE. And then when Im asked, its likewise perfect when the demand comes through either from an editor/my representative or some mix thereof. Once again, in that perfect publishing world, the authors are mostly removed from the exchange. This isnt always the reality, and naturally thats great, too.

How much time do you get to supply the blurb and read?

Typically, inadequate time, if Im being a little complainy. Ideally, lots of lots of months. In truth, in some cases a month or more. Occasionally, even less.

Exists payment for a blurb? Is it paid?

No. Gods, no. That d be some hinky organization. Im sure some authors have actually treated their blurbers to some kind of benefit, by proxy– HERE IS CANDY, you might say, due to the fact that authors are generally children and kids like candy. But I have actually never provided, nor got, candy or other settlement for blurbs. * wink just put the bag of cash under the park bench marked with the Ancient Wendig Sigil and after that the following Tuesday look in the hollow birch tree for the fairy that will hand you the blurb ha ha just kidding thats not a thing wink *.

You do it for somebody, and then they return a blurb to you one day?

My view is that blurbs need to never be transactional– as in, its not tit-for-tat, not scratcha-my-back-scratcha-you-back, its just a thing you do because you like books and you value a strong bookish ecosystem. We like to share Book Love and if we can do so in a satisfying official capability, great. You do it due to the fact that YAY BOOKS, YAY AUTHORS.

What is the value of a blurb?

Im told that theres an inside baseball industry function– as in, an outlet may be more most likely to examine the book if they see a blurb by a Chosen Author, or possibly that assists goose book shop orders. Again, if theres a practical, numbers-based reality to this, I dont understand what it is.

Significance, I dont understand how much it moves the needle on sales. I like them. Possibly theres something to it– definitely if I see a blurb from an author I like, it at least gets me to look at a book.

Do you actually read the books you blurb?

Likewise to be clear, and really honest, though I do check out every book, often I am forced to read them very rapidly, which is to say, not as well or as completely as I d like– Im a sluggish reader by nature and if you do not give me as much time to read it as I want, I do my best to speed and race through. I read them start to complete and blurb accordingly if I liked it.

To be clear, Ive never ever had my representative or any representative or editor recommend doing this. My practice is, I compose a blurb and I like to ensure that editors and authors are pleased with it, and I note they are free to massage it as they choose, provided I approve the outcome prior to it goes in or on a book.

And Ive likewise heard that not all authors even write their blurbs. Ive heard inform of agents or editors composing the blurbs for them. That would still mean the author has read the book, and if they havent and just sub out the task to a representative or editor … well, thats unusual.

Do you blurb every book youre sent out?

Gods, no. Im a sluggish reader, and this Current Era of Aerosolized Horseshit has actually put a major drag on my reading time. Even more, not every book is for me, nor am I for every book.

What if you hate a book?

Real-talk, blurbing feels a little like homework. “Here is a book you need to read in three weeks, and I require your micro-review by then.” Theres a little bit of pressure and unpleasantness to that, a minimum of for me. Other authors may discover their mileage varies. Simply the exact same, I should likewise note its an honor, at the very same time, to be asked. It can be both things, because in some cases thats how life works. I constantly try, and I dont always arrive.

I do not believe Ive ever actively hated a book Ive been sent out for blurbage purposes– however Ive certainly had some where I felt, as kept in mind, this book simply isnt for me, and its not clicking. The truth is, though, a lot of books Im sent I do not blurb, and the factor I do not blurb then isnt because of the material, however because of the absence of time to read them.

Exist ever harmed sensations over that?

I expect fully that any who get my book will not blurb it, and again, for factors beyond me. Its because it didnt click, or they didnt have time, or whatever. Again, I believe its why its best to eliminate any sense of “transaction” out of it and why its best when the author isnt part of the exchange– that dulls any potential discomfort.

The number of blurb demands do you get?

Me? It ranges from one to four a week, generally.

Are there expectations brought by an authors endorsement on a book?

Hell, that Rin Chupeco blurb for Wanderers is * chefs kiss * excellent. Like, that blurb is ART. (See above).

Are you pleased with any particular blurbs?.

( But those arent announced yet shh.).

If I had a blurb from authors I grew up reading, like Robin Hobb, or Joe Lansdale, or Stephen King– I d definitely print that shit out and hang it on the refrigerator. I am particularly delighted to have a blurb from Erin Morgenstern, who is a pal and though one may assume that indicates the blurb is in some way transactional or “who-you-know,” she somewhat famously doesnt prefer to blurb books by buddies, so the truth that she felt Wanderers was of special adequate note to make the blurb regardless felt additional special. All the blurbs on that book thrill me, due to the fact that individuals took the time to read this 80-million page book and … then say great things about it.

For my really first book, I had one of the blurbers react back rather nicely that they adored the book (the book in question being BLACKBIRDS), however due to the fact that they didnt write books like that, they werent going to blurb because they were scared it would send the incorrect message to their readers. If a difficult sci-fi author blurbs a thriller, theres a danger– though what size of danger, I dont know– that readers will see that, select up the book, and then be salty that the book in question had no science-fiction aspects. Again, I dont know how major an issue that is, however I do comprehend that if I blurb a book, people seeing my name might not simply intuit that I think its a book of quality however that the book is in some method like mine.

( I also have a couple blurbs in for Book of Accidents that, to be truthful, are already pretty awesome.).

Do you blurb self-published books?

Im not opposed to it, though Im seldom asked, and normally speaking I d prefer to understand you initially, and have some form of a relationship/online relationship with the author, because self-pub can roam all over the map in terms of quality. Primarily I dunno that blurbs on self-pub books are even that much of a thing?

Do you blurb books that arent yet sold to a publisher?

This is a semi-recent thing to pop up– Im asked periodically, and no, I do not. It establishes harmful precedent, asking authors to blurb books that havent even been vetted and modified, and also just further entrenches a WHO-YOU-KNOW problem. Agents and editors ought to stop asking this. It is a wild-goose chase for the authors asked, and likewise a problematic ask for the author asking, too– it runs the risk of them burning bridges simply as theyre getting constructed.

What makes a great blurb?

Since thats what Im saying every time, I mostly want I could simply put YEAH I LIKED THIS A LOT YOU SHOULD READ IT.

There are also lots of duplicated words– Unputdownable! Okay I maybe made that last one up. Its fun to say.

Does every book get blurbs?

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If youve more blurb-related concerns, poop em in the remarks listed below.

The thing we sometimes call flap copy, cover copy, back cover copy, or just the “book description,” people also call a book blurb. For my very first book, I had one of the blurbers respond back rather politely that they adored the book (the book in question being BLACKBIRDS), but because they didnt write books like that, they werent going to blurb due to the fact that they were afraid it would send out the incorrect message to their readers. If a hard sci-fi author blurbs a thriller, theres a threat– though what size of danger, I dont understand– that readers will see that, choose up the book, and then be salted that the book in question had no science-fiction components. Once again, I dont understand how severe an issue that is, however I do comprehend that if I blurb a book, individuals seeing my name may not just intuit that I think its a book of quality but that the book is in some method like mine. All the blurbs on that book thrill me, because individuals took the time to read this 80-million page book and … then say nice things about it.

And I believe thats it, in the meantime.

At a specific level, authors stop getting blurbs. You rise to an unique place where no blurbs matter, since you already offer a Gorgillion copies. I believe debuts are probably the most important location you find them.

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