There is probably no more humbling experience than pimping a book for blurbs. Most writers are cut out to be solitary creatures who hunker down alone at desks and kitchen tables in flannel shirts and sweatpants, making up stories or researching nonfiction books. We aren’t sales people or American Idols, skilled in the arts of cold calling and shining in the spotlight.
Yet, once a book is finished and ready for publication, the next step involves reaching out to other writers and begging for what amounts to endorsements:
“Forget Stephen King! This is the book that will make your hair stand on end and keep you up all night.”
“A tender, compelling portrait of a woman who goes too far for love—a roller coaster of emotions you won’t soon forget!”
You know. That sort of thing—proof to the reading public that your book is worth their precious time.
There is no easy way to ask for blurbs, but take comfort in the fact that every writer has to do it. Now that I’ve just gritted my teeth and gone through the process for the fourth time, for my novel HAVEN LAKE, I thought it might help newbie writers to think about these strategies when it’s your turn:
1. When you’re looking for someone to blurb your book, try friends first. Yes, it’s fine if the person blurbing your book is a friend. It’s not false advertising if your friend genuinely does like your writing.
2. If you don’t have writer friends, the next best thing you can do is contact writers whose books are similar to yours. This may seem obvious, but forget asking Stephen King for a blurb if you’re a romance writer—readers of his books probably wouldn’t like yours. Instead, seek out authors who write books that you’ve actually read and admired. Their readers would probably like your book, too.
3. To contact writers you don’t know, try them directly first. If you can’t contact a writer directly through his or her web site, try Twitter or Facebook. If that still doesn’t work, look in the acknowledgments pages of the writer’s most recent book, and you’ll usually find the agent’s name and editor’s name there. Contact those representatives and ask them to put you in touch with the writer.
4. When you do contact someone for a blurb, don’t grovel. Just ask. Remember: every writer has been where you are and has had to ask other writers. We all understand how weird the process is. If you’re contacting a stranger, let that person know why you want him or her to blurb your book—hopefully it’s because you have read their work and genuinely admire it.
5. You don’t need to limit your blurb requests to other writers. If, for instance, you’ve written a book of military history and you know an Army officer, that person could write a blurb that potential readers would take seriously. You can also send advance copies of your book to popular bloggers.
6. If you get rejections along the way, don’t take them personally. Most writers will do it if they have time and if they’re interested in the book you’re writing.
7. All it takes is two or three blurbs for each book—after that, you can add the blurbs you’ve gotten for previous books to your new one. Pretty soon, you’ll have a couple of pages of endorsements, and you’ll be in the position to read and blurb books by other authors. Remember, too, that what goes around, comes around, so be generous when it’s your turn. Never forget the other writers who gave you a helping hand.