As a reader, I don’t pay blurbs much heed. Never have. A couple of years ago, though, a voracious reader I know told me that she bought a book because it had a Michael Connelly blurb on the cover, which caused me to reconsider the marketing value of blurbs.
Rightly or wrongly, many readers feel like authors are our friends. Y’all tell the stories that reach us, and as such, like it or not, we’re connected. So when an author recommends a book, we tend to make two assumptions:
First, we think the book being recommended is similar to the ones you write.
Second, we believe that your recommendation has value if for no other reason than we don’t see a quote from you on every book out there.
So in a nutshell, your endorsement has value to readers, which means it has commercial value. Which means both asking for and providing blurbs is not something to be taken lightly.
Some authors never blurb books. I understand why; as the old saying goes, refusal often offends…unless one refuses everybody as a matter of policy. Which leads me to suggestion number one: If you know an author doesn’t blurb, don’t ask her or him to make an exception for you. Respect that the person in question has made a deliberate choice and move on.
If you are going to ask for blurbs, make sure you make your queries well in advance of your book’s release. After all, you’re asking someone to read a book, and we all know that everyone’s TBR pile is enormous.
Assuming you get a blurb (or three), don’t make assumptions about where or how you can use it. Want to use it on the book’s cover? Your website? Your Facebook page? Make sure the person providing the blurb is cool with your plans.
If it’s feasible, getting blurbs that are both specific to a particular book and general about your immense skill as an author will serve your marketing efforts best. Yes, you’re asking for more than one sentence, but you’re also getting a marketing jewel that won’t dull when your next book comes out. (Bad analogy, but you know what I mean.)
Since I’ve adjusted my opinion of blurbs, I’ve read a few books because of their blurbs. Most recently, THE CUCKOO’S CALLING got to the top of my TBR pile well in advance of The Revelation in no small part because of blurbs from Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. My completely anecdotal and unscientific research tells me that most readers choose at least one book (and most more than one) each year because of blurbs.
What do you think? Are blurbs important? Do they matter?