Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Blurb

In the book trade, a BLURB is the very short matter printed on the jacket or back of the book and elsewhere in promotional material. The term was invented by Gelett Burgess before the first World War. One can take a phrase or brief section out of a review and create a BLURB. This is perfectly acceptable practice. When someone agrees to give advance praise (or not so praising) and/or a review of a work, it's with the understanding that the publisher and author can glean BLURBS for promotional purposes.

How to get BLURBS for your work? Ask those you know with credentials. You could ask famous authors but they will most likely ignore you or send a form email telling you to contact their agent, who will then ignore you. Most of us know a few people whose credentials will look good on a BLURB, and who would be willing to read an ARC of our book. Think of local media people in your community, newspaper blurbs always look good. Think of your college professors, if their expertise would apply to your book. Think of other published authors. None of these people need to be famous, they simply need appropriate credentials.

And don't forget-- you can cut and paste. Like if someone writes back and says, "This completely confused me, I couldn't get past the first chapter, and your punctuation was atrocious. But I loved the dialogue."  Then guess what you use, and forget the rest? "Loved the dialogue." ~ Really Helpful Blurb-giver and Author of 3 Novels.

(This post has been inspired by and in some instances, directly quoted from A Handbook to Literature, 8th Edition, by William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman)

69 comments:

  1. And the agent ignores you - that's funny! Great tips on blurbs, Karen.

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  2. I'm enjoying watching all of the 'alphabet' bloggers who took on the challenge. I've often wondered how 'blurbs' are selected.

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  3. Haha, I love it! Love your A to Z theme, too!

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  4. Good info here, Karen. I was recently asked to give a "blurb" for a back cover and I asked, "Why me? I'm not well-known." I think you really want to choose someone people will recognize if at all possible, or an expert in a field, even if they are not well known.
    Karen

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  5. Blurb, catchy word and fun to say :)

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  6. Karen, You are too modest. You have published a book, a memoir, and so there. Having that author blurb gives credibility, it doesn't need to be a household name. The household names will say no anyway. Or their agents will.

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  7. What a fun way of discussing blurbs! :D

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  8. Great post - I learnt something new today :) as a non-writer it's very interesting to get to know all the 'inside' vocabulary :) Thank you!

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  9. Great post, thanks for sharing. And thanks for being my 50th follower. I am your 720th

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  10. I look forward to being ignored like that someday :)

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  11. I gave up on writing blurbs and had a contest on my blog to submit blurbs for my blog. I walked away with three great ones I use on business ards and email signature lines.

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  12. My brain-pan is assimilating all this wonderful information. I would never have thought of even half of this, thanks!!!!

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  13. I can't wait to face this problem myself! :) And yes, I totally read the blurbs on books. If I don't know the person then it still registers with me a little, but of course not as much as if it's a big name. I love the idea of cutting and pasting, though! I didn't know you could do that. Well, yeah I guess it makes sense. I'll tuck that away for future reference... :)

    Oh, and you asked on twitter for those that are doing the A to Z Challenge. I am!!! :)

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  14. I gave up on writing blurbs and had a contest on my blog to submit blurbs for my blog. I walked away with three great ones I use on business ards and email signature lines.

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  15. great B word. I love the advice at the end.

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  16. This is a great post and I think that it applies to blogs as well. Getting a blurb about your blog that has many followers will definitely help out your blog.

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  17. Yeah, will be in that process myself in a few months! I hope I can get some decent endorsements!

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  18. Hi!
    Thanks for all that info. I didn't realize what a Blurb was, but had heard of them. Thanks for stopping and following at my place. Have a great day!

    Sherrie
    Just Books
    http://sherriesbooks.blogspot.com/search/label/A-ZBloggingChallenge

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  19. This is something I didn't know. Thank you :)

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  20. You're making me wonder about the full text behind your blurbs for Farm Girl and Uncut Diamonds now. ;-)

    Interesting post! :-)

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  21. Blurbs Ah? This is good cut and paste exercise Karen.

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  22. Hi Karen .. you make some good points here & I like Stephen's suggestion .. go do a contest .. but blurbs do sell - that's for sure ..

    Great 'B' .. thanks - Hilary

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  23. I'll try to read the blurbs more carefully. Although I suspect I wouldn't know what was selected for the quote.

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  24. Three cheers for cutting and pasting!

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  25. Very interesting, some good ideas here. I haven't gotten to the blurb needing stage yet, but when I do I'll have the cut and paste trick up my sleeve :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

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  26. Blurbs have seldom influenced me to buy unless they are writers I already love and who point out that the book is similar to their own. (For example, Sara Gruen [Water for Elephants] blurbed Katrina Kittle's book, The Blessings of the Animals. Sara's audience is perfect for this book.) Thanks for the post.

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  27. Great tips. I always wondered about getting blurbs. :)

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  28. Great tips! I always wondered about those super short blurbs.
    -Tyrean
    http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/

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  29. This is a great post.
    Blurbs for books or blogs. Imagine people doing that for you @@ That must be an amazing feeling.

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  30. Great advice. Good to read this!

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  31. I never knew the history of blurbs - so thank you!!!!! I do like the selective cutting and pasting technique!! LOL! Take care
    x

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  32. I garnered blurbs for my book last summer. It was totally worth it.

    Have a great weekend.

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  33. Fascinating post, Karen. I do like the idea of selective cutting!
    Creating your own blurb to attract an editor and then for the back-cover is daunting. I can't count the number of times I've put a book back on the shelves after reading the blurb. For me, it's far more important than the cover picture. It's the first hook with which to draw a reader into the story.
    Look forward to more of your A-Z blogs!
    http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com

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  34. Oooh, now that's given me some ideas. I had some very good relationships with my professors in college...

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  35. I love your website and your informative posts. I feel like I could spend a week here just reading your posts. I will be back to do some of that reading.

    Love the giraffe. They are one of my favorite animals and it is such an awesome picture.

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  36. Off to a great start to the challenge, some great tips that I found useful thanks for sharing. And thanks for stopping by Mercys World too. Will stop by tomorrow :)

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  37. Solid advice. I'll be back to see "c"

    Lisa
    InspiredbyLisa

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  38. By the time I ever get to this stage, I'm going to know a bunch of famous blog buddies. I'm going to bug them for my blurbs!!! :)

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  39. And another reason to be out there rubbing shoulders with the community. Someday you might need a blurb!

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  40. Hey Karen...this post sounds like you may be offering to give a BLURB to someone if they approached you. Am I right? Huh? huh? I'm in the revision process...My name is KELLY M. OLSEN. *wink*. Great post, by the way.

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  41. Good tips. Crossing my fingers I'll need to use them someday!

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  42. For someone who said to me last year that they would never attempt the A-Z, you are doing a great job! :o)

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  43. Blurbs can sell me... I definitely take it into consideration when I decide which book to buy.

    I'm a sucker for comparing a book to a classic... If it says something like "A modern day "lord of the flies" or something... sold.

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  44. Thanks for the writing insight and solid advice. Just bookmarked your site. I'll be interested to see what you do with C-Z.

    Best,
    Joe
    Dead Reckoning

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  45. That was great. I loved the way you cut and pasted...LOL!
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

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  46. That cutting and pasting bit is a great idea. What a hoot!

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  47. If it ever came to needing it, I think I have at least one person I could ask to review and get a blurb from. I love the selective bit of blurbs - a bit like in statistics, only using the ones that prove your point!

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  48. So enjoyed learning the history of BLURBS as well as laughing at being ignored by famous authors and their agents. It's nice to know I can be selective when choosing parts of sentences for my BLURBS too. Great 'B' post! Thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday! :o)

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  49. Excellent tips! I really enjoyed your B post!

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  50. Really enjoyed this post, and the Action one - often wondered where BLURB came from - loved the loop - contact author, who'll ignore you, contact agent, likewise. Thanks for joining small, select followers of my blog :-) Going to do the same here as learned a lot from these 2 A-Z posts alone, and will now have a good browse of the older ones.
    All best
    Karla

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  51. Another great reason for being an active member of the online writing community- you meet some of those big name authors.

    Good post!

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  52. Just can't change the essence of a blurb. Can't use "It's stunning" when the rest of the line is "how this piece of trash found publication." LOL

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  53. Thanks for visiting my blog! I looked around yours and I've found it very helpful. Looking forward to more posts :)

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  54. Good old cut and paste. Thank you for dropping in to the feathered nest. You are very generous with your helpful information here on your blog. I am now a follower.

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  55. Karen ~
    Noticed you stopped by and are now following - thanks!

    I like what you're doing with the A to Z :~)

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  56. I had no idea you could pick and choose in a blurb! I'll definitely remember this :-)

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  57. I Love the last para! It made me laugh, but then, those are the realities of a writer's life!

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  58. I love the last paragraph, too. =D

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  59. I love your blog header picture and Michaelangelo quote!

    Duncan In Kuantan

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  60. Interesting to know where 'blurb' actually comes from. Great tips!

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  61. Great advice. I've started taking part in a weekly meme called Book Blurb Friday to practice writing my own!

    Ellie Garratt

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  62. Great tips on BLURB :) Just looking at the great photo of the Giraffe made me wish I still had the photos I took in Kenya a few years ago.

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  63. Nice post - I particularly enjoyed this as my five year old son has recently learnt what a blurb is, and he tries to drop the word into every conversation (I think he thinks it makes him sound grown up!).

    And thanks for becoming the first follower of my new blog!

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  64. Great advice on blurbs, especially the selective use aka cut and paste technique! I wonder if readers buy a book based on the recommendation blurbs?

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