THE BLOG
09/07/2015 07:29 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

When Authors Beg for Blurbs...

Before I got my first book published, a novelist I knew quipped, "The only thing worse than not being published is being published." I had no idea what he meant, but I soon figured it out.

Take blurbs. Begging for blurbs for your forthcoming book is a definite downside of being published. It's humiliating to have grovel for them rather than have your publisher take care of it. You can feel like Dorothy menaced in Oz.

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Far too many of us authors think blurbs will magically rocket a book to success. That the right, brilliant blurb by Author X will impress the publisher readers, reviewers, bookseller--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 you hope and pray for is a major buzz kill, and getting it is like July 4th on steroids. The entire world is ablaze with joy. Someone famous, or at least someone you admire, has given you their blessing. That name is on your book--surely their fame will rub off somehow.

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Is it any wonder we can sometimes get a little frantic trying to secure a blurb? A writer friend told me a hilarious and sad story about a new author asking a wildly famous writer for a blurb. I can't name the celebrity writer, but she's huge.

The newbie waited. No response. So the anxious author tried again. This time she got a swift and stinging reply:

"My Dear: I understood your letter to be a request, not a demand."

I sympathized with the celebrity 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 determined never to ignore a request from an author asking for a blurb. If I can't do it for whatever reason, I always reply. I don't want someone waiting and wondering like I've done too many times. Will my blurb make a difference and be encouraging? I hope so, even for a little while, and that's good enough for me.

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Lev Raphael is the author of Writer's Guide is Bunk and 24 other books in genres from mystery to memoir which have been translated into a dozen+ languages.