Paying for Blurbs

Dear Miss Snark,
I came across this announcement at BookSurge.com:

Promotional Copy by a New York Times Bestselling Author
Full book review and quote for your cover by a New York Times bestselling author $399

I found it alarming to think that authors whose works I loved may have fallen on hard times, forced to alternate between blurbing books for $399 a pop, and submitting verses to greeting card companies.

You’ve written in your blog about how much fun it is to find authors to blurb books—and I assume you accomplish this feat without proffering $399 to potential blurbers.

What do you advise your authors to do when they are being courted by other agents and authors who want blurbs? Do your authors limit their blurbing to books by friends—or do they decline to do so, to avoid the risk of someday losing the friendship of a good friend who has written a bad book? Do they focus on books by first novelists, as a way to repay the kindness of the famous authors who helped them? Are they elitists, who will only blurb for a book that will be released by a publisher they regard as equal to or better than their own, or are they more egalitarian, willing to blurb any book, even a self-published or vanity press book, if it is truly deserving of their recommendation? Do they write something positive, even if they are lukewarm about the book?

When it comes to blurbing, what would Miss Snark do?

First of all, paying for blurbs is NOT industry standard. Would that it were we could all quit buying knock off blurbs full of ellipses and clever editing from the Senegalese Blurb dealers at 57th and 6th.

BookSurge is a POD mill. Nothing they do should be accepted at face value, or taken to mean it's "industry standard". They may produce books but they aren't in quite the same industry I am.

There is no cut and dried, accepted standards and practices about blurbs. We know they are pretty much meaningless for sales but we still do them.

I solicit blurbs for clients, as do editors. I pass on solicitations that come to me for my clients. If they don't want to do it, I help them devise ways to say that while avoiding "you suck and your book does too".

Some authors won't do any, some only do a few. Each author has his/her own criteria.

Miss Snark on the other hand will comment about just about anything put under her long quivering snout. Oh wait...that's Killer Yapp's nose.


Mags said...

They may produce books but they aren't in quite the same industry I am.


Bernita said...

If these "blurbs" are sold on the street, what value do they have?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Interesting points about BookSurge - my publisher had tried them for one book and was very dissatisfied so switched their distribution (via Ingram's).

And BookSurge doesn't allow returns, so there are a lot of bookstores that won't carry stock from them.

Plus, they're owned by Amazon... Not that Amazon is bad or anything, I just think that they MIGHT have a vested interest in running BookSurge in a manner that makes books via that source more marketable online, so that bookstores can't compete with Amazon on pricing. It's only my opinion, though, fwiw.

Carter said...

Au contraire, my dear Miss S! Blurbs do make a difference, at to me. A blurb from an author whose work I admire is often the tipping point between a sale and a shrug. If one of my favorite authors liked it, I am much more prone to laying down my filthy lucre and sneaking said tome out of the store in a plain brown wrapper.

Hey, Killer! How's the ankle-biting business these days. Any new trends in chewable footwear we should know about?