Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who Would Bother Blurbing for Me?

A reader recently informed me she landed a traditional contract for her book on changing the educational system. She was over the moon happy,but had hit a brick wall in terms of blurbs. 

To use her words, "I do not have any personal contacts that would lend any national credibility to my work."

This is where you learn to think outside of yourself, as well as think highly of yourself. When seeking blurbs, you don't want to project meek, timid, reluctant or scared. You wrote a damn fine book. You'd love to share it with these reputable people in hopes they like it and would provide a blurb. After all, you respect them so much, and you thought of them when working on your all-important project.

My suggestions to her were to contact the following, whether she knew them or not:

1. Contact people like school district superintendents, particularly any that come from areas addresses in the book. 

2. Contact the Secretary of Education for her state. She is a constituent of that Secretary of Education since most of them are elected.

3. Contact your federal and/or politicians, particularly ones on an education committee. 

4. Contact officers of educational and parenting organizations like PTO, PTA, National Education Association, American Organization of School Administrators, and American Federal of Teachers. Find more at

5. Find bloggers online who are noted educators or bloggers about education. 

6. Find out who won Educator of the Year for your district or your state and ask him/her to provide a blurb. 

7. Visit the online sites of education magazines. They have forums plus people leave comments on the website beneath articles.Ferret out those known in their field, if not the editors of the magazines. 

Your blurb writers don't have to be nationally known, just respected in the field. Often their titles and awards make up for the unknown name. Don't be afraid to ask for a blurb. Don't discount your work or your talent in thinking nobody wants to read your work.  

Bill Norris wrote in his essay in The Millions about whether or not blurbs are worth it - To Blurb or Not To Blurb . He wrote from both the author and the blurb-er's side of the desk. Bottom line? Blurbs are well worth it, and many authors, when asked to write a blurb for someone else, try to find a way to do it.

In The Awlsix authors write about their experiences and opinions about blurbs and covers. While they may or may not write blurbs (one said she tried to honor as many requests as possible while another said her editor took care of that), they all pretty much agreed that blurbs matter. 

So, yes, blurbs count. And yes, you need to bite the bullet and ask for them, even from the famous, the intelligent, the educated. And finally, yes, you need to ask for blurbs as soon as you have an ARC in hand. Follow-up. Go for it. All they can say is no or that they hated the book, and even then, you can throw those in the trash.


Sarah Tokeley said...

I agree with your comment 'titles and awards make up for the unknown name'. When I read anything factual, I'm interested in what qualifies people to give their opinion, not what their name is.

widdershins said...

As an author I get that blurbs are important, but when I pick up a book to read I ignore them and go straight for the story. I might, might read them afterwards if I enjoyed the story.


Very helpful post. Since My book, Herstory, is nonfiction, I will, as suggested, ask someone respected in the fields of genealogy and women's history