Monday, September 25, 2006

'Scuse Me, Can You Spare a Blurb?

A Grog Not to Be Missed:
Before we get into the question of the day, I wanted to send a shout-out to six of my author friends who have started a group blog called, The Debutantes...each of these authors has a debut novel coming out in '07, thus the title. Get it? Truth be told, I was part of this wise, witty, brilliant grog for a short time (when it was in its planning stages), but found that I could only juggle so much and had to regretfully (and guiltily) bow out...but I know that these gals, including Kristy Kiernan, Anna David, Eileen Cook, Tish Cohen, Jennifer McMahon and Mia King, are going to do just fine (read: kick ass) without me. So head on over and check out The Debutante Ball!

Question of the day: Do you have blurbs from authors ... Oh, never mind, I already know this question! But maybe for others who don't you might want to explain author blurbs and the importance of them, and how to get them (after the sale of a novel, of course!). (Special shout-out to the hilarious - and often drunk - Manic Mom for the question!)

Yes, I do have blurbs, as of now, six of 'em, from various chick lit/women's fiction authors.

Blurbs are an interesting topic because it seems that everyone has a different take on them: new authors are often desperate for them, certain readers despise them, and I'm not sure that anyone - PR depts, authors, etc - really knows how much they actually DO for you, in terms of real, quantifiable terms. But regardless, they do seem important, and here's at least one reason why: when it comes time to fire up your sales force (the folks who shop your ARC around to places like Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, etc), these blurbs can really help. (Or so my agent and editor tell me.) It makes their job a hell of a lot easier...after all, the book has the ringing endorsement of Superstar Bestseller, which might help distinguish it from the 1000s of other books being pushed on the Barnes and Noble buyer. And the Barnes and Noble buyer might also be impressed with the fact that, given these blurbs, he suspects that the book will be an easier sell to readers. After all, all things being equal, it does make sense that a customer will likelier buy a book that's been endorsed by one of her favorite authors than a book that hasn't been.

So, as you can probably tell, I'm someone who subscribes to the fact that blurbs really can only help raise the awareness and sales of your book. Sure, some readers - and some of you might comment on this - find blurbs a turn-off. I don't really understand that, but I guess it's your right. But more often, they'll help distinguish your book from the dozens of others on the shelf. I suspect, and again, I have no proof of this, that they might also help you garner more reviews...again for the same reason that blurbs might boost your sales: if a reviewer sees that it's been well-received by other authors, he might be more likely to pick it up than if not.

Now, some skeptics out there will say that blurbing is sort of like back-scratching: you do me, I'll do you. And thus, they doubt the validity of the blurb. Hell, I've heard people claim that some blurbers don't even read the ms they're blurbing, and the truth is...I'm sure that happens, and it's unfortunate. In my case, I can say with certainty that all of my blurbers read the ms (I could tell from their specific comments), and then offered up whatever comments they so chose.

So how did I get these blurbs? Well, I was proactive. After the revisions of my ms were complete, I emailed about 10 -12 authors whose work I had read (and liked), and with whom I thought I would share similar readers. I didn't know these women from Adam, but wrote them very polite, very flattering (and not just to be flattering! but because I did and do admire their work) notes, explained what my book was about, why I'd love for them to take a peek, and let them know that under no circumstances did I expect an obligatory "yes," or good review. A few didn't have the time to read the ms, but I've gotten great blurbs from most of those who did.

My editor and agent were thrilled, partly because of the quality of the authors who were blurbing, but also because most authors don't get blurbs until the galleys are made. So now, we had these amazing quotes to use on the back of the galleys, as well as in the catalog copy that gets sent out to booksellers. But we're still not done. I get my galleys in a few weeks (yahoo!), and from there, my agent and editor will take the lead, sending out ARCs to a few more authors in hopes of landing even more advanced praise. Because, as my agent told me, you can never have enough positive feedback. I wasn't about to disagree... 'em? Hate 'em? Disregard 'em? Gotten 'em? Been asked for them? Who wants to share his or her own opinion on blurbs?


Anonymous said...

You'll always be an honorary Debutante, Allison! Thanks for the shout-out :)

Shannon McKelden said...

It was really hard, as a first-time author to ask for blurbs! I tended to stick with people I knew, who wrote similarly or, like you, whom I believed would share a readership. My agent and editor/publisher also solicited quotes from clients/other authors. The first one that came back from a stranger was such a thrill for me!

Anyway, it's difficult to ask, but I always made sure to give them an out, telling them that it was okay if they didn't have the time or didn't feel comfortable doing it. I don't think anyone turned me down though, and several mentioned remembering how scared THEY were of soliciting blurbs for THEIR first books! :-)


Anonymous said...

Oy, asking for a blurb is right up there with paper cuts. First of all, asking is hard enough. But then you make matters worse by imagining five million scenarios in which the person you are asking for a blurb (probably some national bestselling author) is horrified, shocked, embarrassed (for you!), appalled, or plain doesn't like your book and thinks you're a terrible writer and just doesn't know how to tell you. You worry that he/she might even mention this on national TV.

But, then you get over it because it's one of those things that you have to/should do, like getting a shot, and then it's over and you have this lovely blurb to show your publicist who will then tell you to go get more.

Allison, we miss you but as an honorary Deb, you know you can waltz into the Ball anytime you want!

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Thanks, Mia, Kristy and Shannon! I felt the same thing as you guys: mortified, nauseated, etc! And yep, when that first one comes through, it's SUCH a sigh of relief!!!

Yay for the Debs!!

Anonymous said...

I always read the blurbs when considering a book. If I like the blurber's (can I tm that term?) books,then I know I'll probably like the new author's book as well. And you have an impressive list of blurbers!

Allison, my book club is already eager to read your book. We're all cheering you onward and upward.

Amie Stuart said...

Asking is super-tough...and there's a question in here Allison. After I asked someone I really wanted to blurb me and who I felt would blurb me, I found out she only had a month if I wanted her blurb on the cover. Needless to say with her crazy writing schedule I didn't feel like this was fair to her and apologized. Is it worth it to get blurbs knowing they won't make it on the cover?

Trish said...

Allison, your blog is messed up because of the long url in one of your previous posts. You've got to crop it and let some run to the next line (or include a short title for it so that the url doesn't show and that should fix it automatically. :)

Cool new blog! I'm off to see.


Allison Winn Scotch said...

Thanks, Tricia!! I'm fixing it asap.

And Anon - you are TOO kind. Thank you!!

Amie-I'm posting this question tomorrow, along w/my thoughts!

Larramie said...

I took a glance and did a dance over at The Debutante Ball. ;o) What fun, what variety and what a terrific way to get to know these authors before their books debut! As a reader who specifically searches for new voices, I'm thrilled. However (in all honesty) TDLF remains #1 on my anticipated booklist.

Learning that more blubs garner more reviews made me *g*. But, of course, how simply logical. Love it!

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Oh my, am I being slandered here? Or, I guess it's not slander if it's the truth--hee hee.

Now would it be really bad of me to blog about this weekend's quest to make the perfect caramel-appletini, in which I needed to purchase the perfect martini glass to fill?
* * * * * *
Good to learn about these blurbs because I've got verbal and written commitment from a best seller! Let's get me an agent, an editor, a publisher and a book deal and then I'll be ALLLLL set!

: )

Sara Hantz said...

Hey, thanks for this post. I'll be looking for blurbs soon and decided to contact the biggies in YA (even though I don't know them, lol)!!

Allison Winn Scotch said...


Good luck!! Let us know how it goes and if you need any other advice!


xxxx said...

In Manic's defense, she is only drunk on Fridays and on alternating Saturdays.

Juuuuust kidding. :)

Amie Stuart said...

Thanks Allison!!!!!1

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Thanks Swishy, but you forgot the third Tuesday of every other month!

Anonymous said...

So... Do you send the manuscript along with the letter asking for a blurb, or do you wait until they commit to checking it out and possibly blurbing you first?

Thanks for this great post, by the way!