Friday, May 29, 2009
An alternate to celebrity blurbs
Every author dreams of having cover blurbs (endorsements) from famous people who'll say nice things that may entice people to buy books.
Often, especially for a new author with a new book, it's just not possible to get the attention of an expert who will add authority to yours.
That doesn't mean your book has to be blurbless.
There's nothing wrong with asking for and printing blurbs from friends and family, if it's appropriate to your book. Later on, If Oprah or another celeb falls in love with your words, you can revise the cover to incorporate the new comments.
My book I Only Flunk My Brightest Students -- stories from school and real life, deals with my life. So it made perfect sense to use blurbs from people who know me, rather than some distant Nobel Prize winner.
My book is funny. Identifying the source of my front cover blurb as "author's classmate since first grade" is almost a parody of the traditional stuffy IDs ("professor of Indo-Eurasion folk medicine at the University of Guatemala), and reinforces the mood of the book.
Don't forget blurbs for the back cover, and the first inside page, and for Amazon and other online booksellers, and for your own web pages.
There's nothing wrong with your acting as a writing coach for your blurbers. You can edit blurbs as long as you don't change the meaning (I always get approvals on edited blurbs). You can even write a complete blurb and ask someone to "adopt" it.
In some fields of writing blurbing is incestuous, with authors trading blurbs in order to publicize their own books.
Some blurbers dominate their fields. They are like hired guns, or "medical experts" who will provide an expert opinion at a trial for whichever side will pay the most money. Some experts seem to write more blurbs for other books, than complete books under their own names.
A sincere and well-written blurb from someone who has actually read your book and knows the background behind it can be more valuable than a few perfunctory words from a distant celebrity, because readers will be better able to identify with it.