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Denise Vivaldo Headshot

The Book Jacket Blurbs Nobody Will Ever Read

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As a cookbook author, when the marketing department of your publisher asks for book "blurbs," you have to call clients, friends, anybody that you can think of who will say something nice about you or your book. Unfortunately, my mother is dead. And even though the book is most likely on a slow boat to China to get printed, or soon will be on an even slower boat back from China -- it's a "rush".

"Hi, I know we haven't talked in 20 years...PLEASE say something nice about me, be sincere ...and mention the book title and can you email me those three expertly written sentences in the next 15 minutes? Oh, and by the way, if you didn't already know my last book won the International Burro Award in Argentina... yes, the international awards are hard to keep track of... and please... let's meet for lunch next year, WHEN I NO LONGER HAVE DEADLINES, and maybe have had a face lift so I look something like the retouched photo that is also on the book jacket."

I can't make this shit up.

I sometimes dare to ask, "Isn't publishing in ruins?" to which my agent, editors and accountant all reply, "Don't ask no f**king questions, just get the blurbs!"

The "blurbs," the bio and the previous book sales are all of the pieces the marketing department wants, and they wanted it five minutes ago. They put them together for the sales force in the hopes that your book will be sold to all the big book stores, top websites, will be written about in the remaining newspapers, and will have you appear on TV anywhere they can book you, which is somewhere on cable right between The Tractor Pull Marathon and COPS. This circus lasts about six weeks.

After that, many books just fade away or get remaindered off (sold like an ugly dress at Bloomie's, cheap and fast). Once in a hundred years, like a meteor, it's a really good book that stays in print, with subsequent editions, and may even become an industry standard. Even this doesn't produce enough royalties for a face lift but maybe enough to recover the sofa.

At least one of us looks better.

As a total underdog author, but with seven books to my name, I'm used to the reality of being an unknown. I have nowhere to fade away to; I'm already living quite comfortably in Ghostland.

With that said, proudly, I thought maybe I should share the blurbs that can never appear on my latest book jacket. These were sent by dear friends and clients underneath their printable quotes. I guess below is what they really wanted to say about me.

"Denise; mouth like a sailor, skills of an angel."

"Man, that bitch can cook, drunk or sober."

"Love her, but she scares me. Is that knife registered?"

"Her road to success is littered with dead producers!"

"That sweet face sure hides a world of sins!"

"If I'd known it was going to hurt this much, I wouldn't have struggled!"

And my personal favorite:

"Crap, she may be old but she is still fast!"

Please buy my latest book coming this fall, The Food Stylist's Handbook, published by the very lovely Gibbs Smith Publishing.

Denise Vivaldo, a food stylist for 25 years in Hollywood, was discovered by Aaron Spelling. Her first job was styling buffets for the camera on The Love Boat, and it actually was exciting and new.