Monday, May 31, 2010

Cover Copy #2 – Blurbs and Egos

First – It's Memorial Day here in the US. The holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. Please take a moment to give thanks to those willing to put their lives on the line for our freedom.

Next: a quick Wildlife Report. Yesterday, we drove up to Florissant for breakfast. On the way down our street, we saw two foxes in the road. One was kind enough to pose for a picture.

Then, after breakfast, we took the scenic route back to the highway, and saw a bear lumbering through the trees. He stopped to check us out, but it was tough to get a decent shot with my little camera.

And back to writing stuff:

On Friday, I posted part 1 of this discussion of another aspect of writing—the part that doesn't end up between the covers of the book, but rather, lives on the outside. For someone who enjoys the storytelling, dealing with the requisite marketing side of the business, especially when you're with a smaller publishing house, can be daunting. Part 1 dealt with the excerpts—the story teasers that will (one hopes!) make a reader want to read the book.

Another task: cover blurbs. I probably hate this part of the process more than anything, with the possible exception of having to submit and getting rejection letters. The publisher submits ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to major review publications. Then you cross your fingers that 1) they'll select your book based on whatever the publisher sends them (hence the importance of that excerpt) and 2) they'll say something nice. Because bottom line: if you want your book in a library, these reviews are vital.

However, the publisher also wants the author to find other authors to write those snappy one or two liners you see on back covers. And they want it before those ARCs come out. Because then they can add that to the ARC which they're sending to the reviewers.

Have you ever thought about those quotes on the back of a book from author A saying "Great read, a page turner, wonderful characters"? Have you ever bought a book because of one? After all, you like Author A, so if she likes book B, then it must be good.

Cover blurbs are touchy subjects with a lot of authors. It's time out from their busy schedules, and ideally, you want a blurb from an author much higher up the totem pole than you are. So why should they risk being associated with a lesser writer? Often their agents will tell them they can only blurb for other authors on their client list, or their editor might want them to blurb another author in their house.

An author's ego is fragile enough without having to grovel for quotes—because what does a response of "I'm sorry" really mean? There's always the fear that they're saying no because they don't think you could possibly be good enough to warrant their name on your cover. So even though they say they're on deadline, doing a book tour, or aren't allowed to do blurbs, you wonder. Is it the truth, or is it me?

And then, let's say they agree, and their schedule works out. Since there are no physical copies of the book yet, you have to send them one. If you're lucky, they've got some kind of an e-reader, or they don't mind reading on their computer. But so far, most of the ones I've dealt with want a hard copy. That means printing out a 300+ page document and mailing it.

What does it mean when an author friend says, "sure, send me a digital copy" so you do? And a while later, they e-mail back saying, "So sorry—just got another deadline and another project, so I won't have time to read your book." While most of you trusts that the author is being honest, there's that niggly part that says, "She started reading and thought it sucked." Or an author who DID read three chapters of one book and said, "Sorry, I'm not loving it enough to give a quote."

Then again, I did have one author who said, "Sure—send me a couple of suggestions and I'll tweak them into a blurb for you."

(And any authors out there who are dying to read my manuscript and write a blurb—just let me know!)

Tomorrow my guest will be C. Patrick Schulze. He's got some great advice for editing, so come on back!


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Terry,
Great blog. Call me a coward, but I would be too scared to ask someone further up the pecking order than me, to write a blurb for my book. Too scared of rejection I suppose.



Mason Canyon said...

Enjoyed the post and the photos. Cute neighbors.

As for book blurbs, they do sometimes help me decide to buy a book or not.

Hope you have a safe and Happy Memorial Day.

Thoughts in Progress

Jade Twilight said...

Hi Terry I've written blurbs for another author, although I'm not very high on the totem pole. I've never had a publisher want me to get blurbs from another author though. To be honest I've never bought a book because of one and usually just by pass them altogether. Even if it is an author I like, that's just one persons opinion and there's no reason what they think is what I will. Just my two cents.

Annabelle Ambrosio said...

Enjoyed seeing the pictures of the wildlife. Where I live now the deer are very small. Many times you see them in the distance and they look like dogs.

Terry Odell said...

Margaret - I don't like doing it, but the publisher rules. They say do it, so there's not a lot of choice.

Mason - thanks - I'd rather not see the bears in my own yard.

Jade - I can't remember buying a book based on a cover quote.

Annabelle - these mule deer are of a good size. We've been watching one female who is definitely pregnant.

Carol Kilgore said...

It never ends. Some things are easier than others. Great post.

Terry Odell said...

Carol - I suppose it's still better than the alternative, which would be nothing to promote at all.

Katie Reus said...

The bear totally would have freaked me out. The pics are cool! I don't buy books b/c of author quotes but I know a lot of people who do. The one exception to that would be Linda Howard. If she says she likes it, I'm probably picking it up.

Terry Odell said...

Katie - we weren't close to home when we saw THAT bear. But someone in the development posted pictures of a bear in his area.

You think Linda Howard would give me a cover quote? I'm going to her workshop on the 12 steps of intimacy, and adding suspense this Saturday.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Love the pictures!

It does make me a little anxious to ask for cover blurbs. I got some great ones for "Delicious and Suspicious"...editor offered to solicit authors for me, but I figured I know enough writers to ask for myself. :)

Yeah, and I'm so swamped now I don't even have time to read my own text I've written! But keep me in mind for the future--I've already blurbed a couple and I don't mind reading. :)

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - one nice thing about a second book is that my publisher accepts blurbs from the first book as well--although they do want comments for the new one.

And careful what you offer. You might regret being so generous!

Jemi Fraser said...

Scary. I think I'll refuse to think about this until I have to. Don't want to be too scared to write! :)

Mary Ricksen said...

I asked someone high on the totem pole in our local chapter and she just ignored me. Never even answered.

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - yeah, it never occurred to me that I'd have to do something like that.

Mary - rude people irk me. Big Time.