Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Odd Advice for New Writers: The Blurb Shelf

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Okay. So you're a new writer, you've made a few sales, maybe your first novel has come out. Now you've been approached to provide a blurb for somebody else's book. What do you do?

Knowing new writers, you're going to drop everything, read the book at once, and if at all possible you're going to provide a blurb. It's what real writers do, after all. It's a sign that you've made it into the Great Game! They want your blurb! Just like they want Ursula K. Le Guin's! But after that?

I suggest you start a Blurb Shelf. Find a convenient corner among your books and when you receive a copy of the book (as you should) from the publisher, place it there. The next time one of your blurbs appears, put that book next to the first one. And so on. After a while, the shelf will begin to take on a kind of personality. When it does, stop and ponder:

Do you like what you see?

Ideally, you should be blurbing the kind of writers you want to be, those who write works like your own, those you admire, and those you think are becoming worthy of being on your blurb shell. It should serve as a kind of mirror to your writing preferences.

If it doesn't... if there are books on your blurb shelf you don't want to keep... then you've become a Blurb Whore.

Is it wrong to be a "Blurb Whore?"

Not necessarily. Editors will notice will notice and start sending you ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) of new works they think you'll like. This will spice up your mailbox like nobody's business.  Plus, nobody's ever offended that you gave them praise, so you're partway to having new friends. And you're doing the work of angels by putting good writers and good readers together.

Unless, of course, your blurb shelf says that you're blurbing books you don't really admire.

In which case, you really should cut back. Because all you're doing then is filling your mailbox with stuff you don't want to read.

So have I taken my own advice?

Of course not. People who offer advice rarely do. But there are many, many things I should have done that I didn't and I'd be better off now if I had.This may well be one of them.


And speaking of coming attractions...

Sitting in solemn convocation, the Not At All Nepotistic Blue Ribbon Panel of Family has passed judgment on this year's collection of season's greetings cards. In a unanimous decision, we have chosen this year's winning Godless Atheist Christmas Card.

Keep tuned to this blog to find out what won. Same Bat-Channel! Same Bat-Station!


Above: Why, yes, I did indeed provide a blurb for one of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books. Somebody actually thought my endorsement would add luster to Ms. Le Guin's reputation. I won't pretend this wasn't a Very Big Deal for me.


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1 comment:

Kevin Cheek said...

The great Michael Swanwick once blurbed one of my books. This was a Very Big Deal for me! (No, I'm not claiming to be in the same class as Ursula Le Guin--but I'll take any association I can get)