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Blurbs don’t sell books.
(Irrelevant aside. The term ‘blurb’ was coined by Gelett Burgess, the same guy who wrote the Purple Cow poem, so I’m in his debt).
While they don’t sell books, they do a lot for an author, particularly one who is leaning out of the boat, doing brave work. I remember when Tom Peters took the time to blurb my book Guerrilla Marketing Yourself. It made me stand a little taller.
My take is that blurbing is time-consuming, difficult and sometimes even worth it. If I can, I try to.
I never use pre-written blurbs, in fact, I’m significantly offended when offered one, since they imply that I’m simply trading favors. In fact, I read every book I blurb, which is why it’s so difficult for me to keep up.
I also can’t read books with large obnoxious watermarks diagonally across every page. Yes, I can remove them in less than two minutes using Acrobat and Nisus, but it’s a hassle and annoying. I’m a volunteer and would appreciate the kindness of a clean copy.
I ask authors for a few things in exchange. First, don’t be offended if I say I can’t blurb your book (because, as above, I actually read the books I blurb, the queue is out of control). Second, please don’t be offended by what I write, or ask to edit it. You don’t have to use my blurb, fine with me, but I’m doing my best to be helpful and honest, and negotiating with you about a blurb I wrote to be supportive nullifies the whole thing. And third, please push back on your publisher, not on me. I’m asking that the blurb just be used on the book itself and on Amazon. Not in press releases, not in banner ads, not with my photo, not abridged, not bigger than your name… none of that is the point of the blurb.
Alas, I don’t write forewords (note the spelling of foreword, which is weird) because when I do, Amazon lists me as a co-author, which isn’t fair to either of us.
So, I’ll probably persist in spending a significant chunk of my life doing a few blurbs a year, but you can help make that more likely for the next hard-working author if you can take these guidelines to heart. Thanks.