The Hartford Courant recently carried an article by its book editor, Carole Goldberg, entitled Jacket Flak. It carried the subtitle "Do Book Blurbs Bear Sincere Praise Of Peers, Or False Fawning Of Friends?"
Now, I barely knew what a blurb was until a couple of years ago when I joined the writing community at Readerville. Many of the writers there were very concerned about finding authors to read and "blurb" their new books, meaning write a nice little quotable quote that could be quoted on the cover. I had seen such things but didn't know it was my responsibility to approach writers to do it for me.
Needless to say, there's never been a blurb on any of my books.
I don't loose any sleep over the matter. What does worry me is what do I do if someone asks me to blurb their book? My legion of frequent readers know what a crabby reader I am. Just what are the chances of my reading a book that's handed to me and liking it at all, let alone enough to be inspired to come up with a marvy quote someone would actually want on his or her cover? Not great. Thank goodness my opinion doesn't matter to anyone, and I've never been approached.
Goldberg's article didn't cover that aspect of blurbing. Wally Lamb was quoted as saying he'd passed on blurbing an important novel, but he didn't say how. What do you say to an author whose book you've read and hated? Is it too late to say, "Thanks, but no thanks" at that point?
Evidently some writers do blurbs a number of times a year. Some of them want to help new authors, which really is very kind of them. But isn't getting your name on someone else's book free advertising for yourself, too? Doesn't it suggest that you're important because people care what you think? Not that I'm saying free advertising is a bad thing. Hey, I spend plenty of time trying to come up with cheap, easy ways to get my name out in front of as many people as I can.
But here's the thing: When I read a book with glowing blurbs from well-known authors and I think the book is breathtakingly awful, my opinion of the blurber drops significantly. Especially if I've only heard of the blurber and haven't read anything by her. Is that just me or do other readers feel that way?
If I'm not just a one-of-a-kind witch, maybe blurbing isn't worth the risk.