Killer Yapp will Burp for $20...oh wait, you meant blurb

I've always wondered… how much do authors get paid for endorsing other books? Do the authors do it out of the goodness of their hearts because they love the books, or is this an extra income source, akin to a celebrity endorsing creams that make your wrinkles vamoose?

I do know an author (ignore the sudden green tinge to my complexion) who obtained an endorsement from an expert in her field prior to publication of her book. Who is meant to do this? My little ‘ol publisher wanted me to obtain endorsements for my second book. I did my best but I didn’t think they were stellar endorsements. The content was great, sang the praises of the book and its not so humble author. However I didn’t know any famous people so although the endorsements are from experts, I doubt they hold much sway with the average reader. That leads to my next 2 questions:
- who is responsible for obtaining endorsements for books? (author or publisher)
- how would an author approach a complete stranger for an endorsement

Okay may as well throw in a third question… how do I get Oprah to read my manuscript and give a dazzling endorsement (the book is on compulsive eating and she has recently stated that she is a compulsive eater).

You don't pay for endorsements, and in publishing they are called "blurbs". The author and publisher and agent work on this together given they all want the same thing: hot blurbs.

You approach a complete stranger the same way you queried an agent. You write them a letter. You can write to Oprah too. I'm not saying you've got a good chance of hearing from her, but it doesn't hurt to try.


nice anonymous said...

Here's where having been through an MFA program -- or ever having taken workshops through a writers conference, community organization or etc. -- can really help you. Go back to the writer teachers who encouraged your work & supported you. When I finally needed blurbs, I went back to the same kindly, patient, doubtless rather weary people, my former teachers & mentors, who'd written recommendations for me as I applied to the places where everyone applies: the colonies, the fellowships, the foundations, the summer conferences. Some of these nice people, upon hearing I'd had a book accepted, actually volunteered straight off: "Oh, you'll need a blurb. Let me know when you want it."

But even if I hadn't already had these contacts lined up, my publisher was ready to start tapping authors whose books it had recently published. I think that the literary world is smaller even than Kevin Bacon's world. What author can you reach within just a few degrees?

Dave Kuzminski said...

Because of my ownership of P&E, I'm often asked to review a book and offer a blurb. I think I've done three in ten years. I don't get paid for those.

I do get to keep the book though. Yes, I actually read them. I don't give a blurb to anything I don't believe in.

Deborah Hern said...

I'm a reviewer. Trust me, no one PAYS for blurbs. Usually, the first time I know I've been used for a blurb is when I see said blurb on or in a book. Which, honestly, is always a nice surprise.

If you're looking for blurbs for a first book, you're going to have to go out and ask for them. (And by "you," I mean you and your publicist, who I hope has contacts.) Send out review copies and hope they read it, then review it, and finally, like it enough to give you something you can use.

SherryD said...

I've written three blurbs for other writers. This was because I was the editor of a small magazine - not because I was famous. Two other famous writers wrote blurbs too, and our blurbs appeared together on the jacket. I felt honored to be associated with those two big names. You might be surprised that a famous person would agree to write a blurb. They'll decline to write the blurb if they read the book and not like it, don't worry.

Allison Winn Scotch said...

I approached authors personally without waiting for my agent or editor to tackle it. I merely wrote them polite letters explaining my book and why I'd love for them to take a look...most said yes, and I've been lucky enough to receive six wonderful blurbs so far. Obviously, I never paid them a dime! I actually discussed this process a while back on my blog, in case anyone is currently going through the same process...

The Editrixie said...

And just to give some helpful advice for authors - please, please, please be willing to work with your publisher to get blurbs, don't just expect us to get them for you. Authors are much more likely to respond to a blurb request that comes from the author of the book, instead of from the book's editor.

Rack your brain for anyone you may have even the slightest connection to, then send them a very nice letter along with a bound galley. Or, if you're asking for blurbs very early on in the publishing process, ask your editor if they can get you some bound manuscripts to send out, they'll probably oblige.

Anonymous said...

My publisher told me Oprah has a firm policy of NOT blurbing books. I've never seen her name on one. When she likes your book, she has you on her show or picks it for her book club.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

I've done blurbs for some books (only ones I really like, btw), and I've gotten blurbs for some of my books. Some really good blurbs. In neither case, has anybody been paid anything.

One thing you can do is join on-line discussion groups for authors. That's where a lot of networking is taking place. Go to conventions/conferences and meet other authors in your genre--that's another networking place. Don't just see them as fodder for blurbs, etc., but get to know them--it's fun to have friends in the industry who *get it* when you need to bitch about your deadlines or awful book cover or when you are thrilled over something good that happens.

Then, when you find yourself needing blurbs, you have people you can ask (not demand, and not expect). Always phrase it in a way that leaves them an out--if they're on deadline, they may not have time but they may feel bad about saying 'no.'

And be prepared to do the same for others--if you don't pay it back, then pay it forward.


River Falls said...

I've given blurbs to almost everyone who has asked me. About half of those requests have come from the book's editor or agent, and the other half have come directly from the authors.

I have twice received via email form letter requests for blurbs from nitwits who did not even bother to personalize the letters with my name. Needless to say, I promptly hit the delete button.

The best request I ever received was from a writer who wrote to me through my website expressing her admiration of my books -- and offering pretty convincing evidence that she had actually read them. (Yes, flattery gracefully presented does work.) She made a humorous and witty appeal to my sense of state pride, since we are from the same state. I was determined to like this writer's book before I even read it, and fortunately, her lovely writing made it easy to come up with a positive quote.

I have also blurbed books by other authors my agent represents or editor edits because I adore my agent and editor and would walk through fire to make them happy. (They know me well enough to ask me only when they're confident I would enjoy the book. They would never ask me to be dishonest.)

One last bit: If I've never heard of the author requesting a blurb, I admit that I Google them before agreeing to read the book. If their blogs or previous publications suggest that they are crazed psycho serial killers who kick puppies, I politely decline, citing deadlines for my own writing that would prevent me from reading their book in time to provide a quote.

I've never been paid for a blurb, but those authors who were not raised by coyotes do remember to send a thank-you note. Sometimes the editor will send a copy of the published book, but I've only been that lucky about a third of the time.

Gwen said...

What Yasmine said. It's good to befriend other authors for this and so many other reasons.

Also, you can ask your agent to ask her other clients. With you promising to return the favor, of course.

Talia Mana said...

Very interesting! Thanks for the helpful suggestions

I've never been to any writers' conferences. I haven't had any formal training, or mentoring and I don't attend any of the local writers' groups. I guess I am the stereotypical hermit writer. I can see now, that there is some value in networking. Online groups are a good idea

I've had some great reviews which could be used as blurbs if my book ever got to a second reprint, and I guess they could be used on other books as "praise for the author"

Do New York Times bestselling authors get paid to provide blurbs? I have a feeling I saw something to this effect somewhere, just not sure where.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

Talia Mana, re: NYT bestselling authors being paid...several blurbed one of my upcoming books and no, they didn't get paid. They told me just to 'pay it forward.'


River Falls said...

Talia Mania asked:

Do New York Times bestselling authors get paid to provide blurbs? I have a feeling I saw something to this effect somewhere, just not sure where.

This NYT bestselling author definitely does not get paid to provide blurbs.