Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blurb Me!

By attending writers’ conventions and being personable I've been able to get some pretty nice folks to write blurbs for some of my books. Warren Murphy and Ken Bruen have blurbs on my published works, and people like Libby Fisher Hellman and David Hagberg have given me blurbs on manuscripts that are still making the rounds. In the same vein, I've written blurbs for other authors whose work impressed me. I always thought this was simply one good way to give a book s little more credibility, but now I'm no longer so sure.

I recently learned about a company called Blurbings LLC that offers writers the chance to buy and sell book endorsements. In other words, they traffic in blurbs. Blurbs for cash? From who? After all, getting one unknown writer to endorse another unknown writer probably doesn’t do much for either one. On the other hand, some might say that this company has simply put a price on what mainstream publishers and agents ask authors to do all the time. Yes, most of my blurbs have come from writers with whom I have made friends, and that may make them seem less impartial. I got David Hagburg’s kind words only because we share the same agent, although he assured me face to face that he would never give a blurb for a book he didn’t think was very good. But it’s fair to wonder to what extent all these blurbs represent friends being nice or favors being traded.

In any case it sure can’t hurt to have a published author praise your work - although before you plunk down your $19.95 you should clearly understand that there’s no real evidence that blurbs actually help sell books.

I must admit that when I pick up a piece of fiction I may be swayed by whose blurb is present. If a writer whose work I love praises a book I am more likely to buy it. But I wish there was a way to know if the author landed the blurb himself or if his publisher requested it. One seems somehow more valuable than the other to me.

The bottom line is that I feel as if blurbs are worth less now that you can buy them, much like reviews which can also be purchased. I will still offer this favor for authors who really impress me, and still ask it of my heroes, but that’s more for my ego than with the thought that it will help my book sales.

But I’m curious. What do you think of blurbs on books? Do you ignore them, or do they help you make the purchase decision?

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