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The Blurbs That Got Away

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I've been lucky in my publishing career to get blurbs from wonderful, well-known authors I admire and respect. But I've also missed out a few crucial times.

When Doubleday published my co-authored book about healing shame for a LGBT audience, our editor asked us whom they should approach for blurbs. I suggested a famous feminist author and the editor said, "Brilliant! We would never have thought of her!"

A little while later, this same editor, who was working on a LGBT book by an author with a huge public profile, proudly told me and my co-author he'd snagged a blurb for that book -- by "our" feminist. Why shaft us this way? Because we hadn't gotten nearly a quarter of a million dollar advance, and so we didn't deserve the same kind of attention his star author was getting.

Faber and Faber got some great blurbs for my 1996 collection of essays Journeys & Arrivals from Edmund White and Roger Kamenetz. But publication was held up when one prominent Jewish author who'd been approached actually told them to "stop the presses!" He said he was dying to do a blurb, so would they please wait for him. They did. Then he changed his mind with no explanation for his diva act.

As Marion Boyars in England was getting ready to publish an edition of The German Money, my novel about children of a Holocaust survivor arguing about the terms of her will, one of England's hottest authors said she'd be happy to do a blurb. I was pleased, but my editor was ecstatic: we could hardly have snagged a bigger fish. Sadly, the author not only never came through, she ignored our queries.

Would any of those books have done better with the missing blurbs? I'll never know.

Lev Raphael is the author of Writer's Block is Bunk and twenty-three other books in genres from memoir to mystery.