Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When Blurbing Goes Wrong

By Joe Climacus

On Monday, Chuck Wending wrote about "How Not To Ask For Blurbs."

The main piece of advice is to be polite. Or, don't be a jerk.

Which is great when the universe is smiling on you.


What do you do when things don't work out?

If you've asked nicely, but nice doesn't work, then you'll need to stop being nice.


1. You politely asked for a blurb by such-and-such a date. The date comes. The blurb does not. What do you do?

The first thing you should do is to visit that author's social media page. Facebook, Twitter, whatevs. Then copy and paste a list of all that author's friends. Then unfriend the author -- let's call her Jackie Write -- everywhere you can. For the next year, you'll need to pepper your online conversations with left-handed compliments and vague suggestions about that author. Whenever that author has a new book out, you should ALWAYS review it by saying something like "I didn't mind this book, but I do think her writing was much better earlier in her career. Hope the next one returns to form."

2. The blurb comes back, but it is clear that the author did not read your book, but merely restated the information you or your agent had passed on about the genre and plot of your book.

If it's a good blurb, who cares? If Frank Norris wants to write a blurb about how fucking awesome your cover is, then go with it. That's great. If it's a bad blurb, mail the author a jar of fart.

3. The author flat-out refuses to blurb your book, saying that she/he doesn't have the time because she/he is "under contract" for two screenplays, three separate novels, and a Clone Wars voiceover.

Create fake Twitter accounts and Facebook pages claiming to be the author or that author's rep. Then spam as many people as you can with requests for LIKES and pre-orders. Also, create Book Launch events using Facebook messaging so that each time anyone responds, everyone you've tagged gets a notification.

4. The author has written a blurb filled with praise, but your agent tells you that the author has not provided any "jacket-worthy" bon mots."

Email the author back, asking him to rephrase the wording so that it is usable. "I know you want my book to be a success, so allow me offer some suggestions" you might start. A successful author is generally quite receptive to critical suggestions. After all, revision is a key part of the process. And "collaborative editing" is just another word for friendship.

5. The author has provided a great blurb, but your agent/editor has chosen to not use it.

The best thing you can do is to show your strength here. People in publishing love the hands-on approach. One option is to search the internet for suitable images, then type the blurb onto the image, tweeting and sharing on each social media platform people still use. Even LinkedIn.

As Mr. Wendig and many others will tell you, first you should be as polite as you can. But if that doesn't work, don't take any shit from anyone. You wrote your book. If some author didn't like your book, that's his problem, How big a problem is up to you.


Anonymous said...

This is the dumbest fucking thing I've ever read.

Anonymous-9 said...

Joe, this is a terrific start but you stopped too soon. What about stalking, hate mail, finding out where the author works and complaining to his or her boss? The possibilities are endless. And all these tactics could be rewarded with a corner suite in some local hoosegow. Let your imagination take you there!