Ask tenÂ writersÂ how they feel about writing blurbs, and you’re likely to get ten different answers. Some writers blurb hundreds of books over the course of their career because theyÂ see blurbing as a way to champion other writers they admire or as a way to help young writers along.Â Others turn down every blurb request because they simply don’t have time to read through a manuscript andÂ develop a short, sweet, superlative quote aboutÂ what they’ve just read. (Or as Mark Twain is often attributed as saying, “I would have writtenÂ a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” It takesÂ real concentrationÂ toÂ be succinct.)
Two recent, humorousÂ articlesÂ examine the art of the blurb:
- Jake Adam York breaks down different “genres” of blurbs onÂ the Kenyon Review’s blog
- A.J. Jacobs tries to work out hisÂ blurbing addictionÂ in a recent article for the New York Times’ Book Review
York parses out six different genresÂ of blurbs,Â from “Lavish” (think “An exciting read all the way through!”) to “Breviaries” where “the brevity should indicate to all observers that even a brief perusal of the wonders within will amaze and leave the reader capable of only single-sentence responses.”
Meanwhile, Jacobs had his agent and editor enforce a moratoriumÂ on hisÂ blurbing after he “blurbed so many books that they fill a bookcase inÂ [his] apartment,” and a book critic for the New York Times tweeted, “Half the crap galleys Iâ€™ve seen in the past year were blurbed by one human: A. J. Jacobs.” Not exactly the kind of press he was looking for!
Both articles, though,Â agree onÂ one thing: Blurbing isn’t going away. And whether we, as readers, ignore them completely or savor everyÂ hyperbolic word on every book jacket,Â booksellers and publishers certainly view them as an important marketing tool. And there’s definitely aÂ craft to writing an effective blurb.
As writers, of course, we struggle with our fear of requesting blurbs for our books, and once we’re more established, weighing the merits of those who request blurb requests from us.
So how do you respond to blurb requests? How do you view blurbs in general? Give us your thoughts by commenting below!