Thursday, January 30, 2020

Dear O'Abby: Do I really need blurbs?


Dear O’Abby,

I have a book releasing in late 2020 and my publisher has asked me to see if I can get other authors whose work is similar to mine to blurb my book.  I have reached out to literally hundreds of authors through their agents and publishers and not one of them has agreed to write a blur for me.

Do you have any advice about how to get blurbs?  And are they really important to getting sales?

Any information you have would be helpful.

Sincerely,

Blurbless

Dear Blurbless,

Blurbs can be a useful marketing tool, but they are only as good as the authors who give them.  A positive blurb from a recognized name can lift the profile of a book and signal to readers who are fans of that author that this might be a book they’d enjoy. For a non-fiction title, a blurb from an expert in the field you’re writing about would be a great endorsement that the book is relevant to people interested in the subject.

Getting blurbs is not easy, especially if you’re a new author without many contacts within the writing community.  If you have an agent, they might be able to help you get in touch with other authors they represent, if they write similar things to you.  Your publisher may also be able to help, although the fact they have asked you to do this alone does ring a few alarm bells for me.

My best advice is to be as polite and concise as possible when approaching potential authors.  Don’t spam them with endless emails if they don’t respond to you.  Don’t get bitchy if they come back to you with a ‘no’.  Thank them for their time and move on.

Remember that these are busy people and you’re asking them not to just write a couple of nice sentences about your book, but to actually read it so those sentences hold some weight.  Not everyone reads quickly so asking someone to read your book could be asking for a significant time commitment.  Authors who might already be juggling a day job, family, book deadlines and other commitments may genuinely not have the time to read and blurb a novel.

A glowing blurb from that unpublished writer in your critique group or your high-school English teacher won’t do much to lift your book’s profile, so if that’s all you can generate, you’d be better off going out without a blurb.

Blurbs are not essential by any stretch of the imagination and if you can’t get anyone with a ‘name’ in your genre and category to blurb it, your book isn’t destined for failure.  Getting good reviews on Amazon and other sales platforms is far more important in terms of selling books so my suggestion would be to stop looking for writers to blurb your book and save your energy until you have ARCs to send out to reviewers.

Good luck with the release!

XXX O’Abby

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