Thursday, April 16, 2009


This week I completed the author questionnaire for my publisher, Midnight Ink (even though I've still got a year to go before publication, a lot of things need to get set into motion now). For those who aren't familiar with it, an author questionnaire provides those people who will publish and publicize your book (including your editor, publicist, sales force, cover designer, etc.) with essential information (about you, your book, and your take on your book).

They requested stuff like my biography, synopses in different lengths, URLs for my website and blog and Facebook page, promotion and marketing ideas (topics for another blog post), and other pertinent background facts (schools I attended, organizations I belong to, my favorite flavor of ice cream). Basically I told them anything and everything I could think of that would help them market my book, in as much detail as I could muster.

I was motoring merrily along until I came to the question about blurbs.

Blurbs are those quotes on the front and back covers from famous people, famous authors mostly, saying how wonderful they think your book is. (DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD is the best book I've read today! -- Edgar Allan Poe)

I thought really hard. What famous mystery/suspense authors did I know (and admire) who would say wonderful things about my book? Stephen King? Love his books, don't know the man. James Patterson? Very successful, don't know the man. Robert Crais? Robert B. Parker? Michael Connelly? All faves, but nope, nope, and nope. (I shook hands with Michael Connelly once. Does that count?)

I've met a few writers at conferences, but to most of them, I was just another name and face (and probably one of about a hundred, on that day alone). My thoughts turned to some of my friends. Did they know any famous authors they could snag for me (or did their relatives, or friends of relatives, or relatives of friends)? I hoped that maybe someone played poker with Tom Clancy or had a cousin who cut Janet Evanovich's hair or knows someone who knows someone who changed the oil in Laura Lippman's car.

I eventually came up with a list of possible blurbers. Authors I respect who I'd be proud (and grateful) to have blurb my book. (We'll see what happens when I actually ask them.*)

All this got me thinking: How well do blurbs work? Have you been influenced to purchase a book because of the blurbs?

By the way, if anyone happens to know Dennis Lehane's mail carrier, please give me a call!

*The overwhelming majority of writers I've met at conferences have been the nicest, most generous people, willing to do most anything to help a fellow writer.



Fred Thomas said...

Yep I read the blurbs. They are of interest to me. Name recognition of some sort and the lightbulb that this individual is a smart, competent, annd busy person that took the time to read this book and liked it helps convince me to consider buying the book. The person does not need to be an author.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Alan, I've had many a reader tell me they've picked up one of my books because of the blurb. And Fred is right, it doesn't have to be an author. Camryn Manheim (actress) blurbed my books.

You just ask them. No one will die (that I know of) if they say no. Hell, I'd blurb you - though I'm hardly in Janet Evanovich's category.