03/14/2012 06:12 pm ET Updated May 14, 2012

Begging for Blurbs

The New York Times recently ran a discussion about author blurbs. Begging for blurbs is one of the more misery-producing aspects of being published.

It can leave us desperate and depressed. It's humiliating to have grovel for blurbs, rather than have your publisher secure them for you. You feel like the Tin Man facing the Wizard of Oz.

Blurbs seem too important. Far too many of us authors think blurbs will magically rocket a book to success. That the right brilliant blurb will impress not just the publisher but readers, reviewers and of course our friends, family and fans. But do blurbs really make a difference in terms of sales? It's hard to say. How can you quantify a blurb's impact?

What you can be sure of is that not getting a blurb an author hopes and prays for is a major buzz kill, and getting it is like the 4th of July on steroids. The entire world is ablaze with joy. Someone famous, or at least someone we admire has given us their imprimatur. We may not be in their league, but we've received a blessing. Surely their fame will rub off somehow.

Is it any wonder we can sometimes get a little frantic? A writer friend told me a hilarious and sad story about an author asking a wildly famous writer for a blurb. I can't name the author, but she's prize-winning, revered, and magisterial.

She ignored the letter.

So the anxious author tried her again. This time she got a swift and stinging reply: "My Dear: I understood your letter as a request, not a demand."


I sympathized with the famous author feeling put upon, but I felt sorry for the writer who was embarrassed, and wished The Famous One had simply said "no" right away.

Stories like that have made me decide never to ignore a request from an author asking me for a blurb. If I'm unable to do it, for whatever reason, I always reply. I don't want someone waiting, wondering, hoping in the way that far too many authors do. Will my blurb make a difference? I hope to the author it will, even for a little while, and that's good enough.