“Will you blurb my book?” Any writer will recognize the charge of those necessary words as we approach the famous and more-famous to ask for their help. Today I typed those words in multiple emails to novelists I admire with all my heart after months of considering who to ask to blurb my forthcoming novel, The Divorce Girl.
The process is tender and full of ethical hidey-holes whether you’re the blurber or blurbee. Having been on the other end plenty of times, I’ve developed my own criteria: I will blurb your book if I have a relationship with you (friend, student, teacher, colleague), I believe in your work, and my life is not so madcap out of tilt that I can barely find the time to take a long enough bath. This isn’t easy criteria, and I’ve hurt some people’s feelings when I was honest enough to say, “I wish you the best, but I don’t feel strongly enough about this work.”
For the people I’m asking, I understand they simply may be too busy or just might not connect with my writing which, in most cases, truly isn’t personal. I also understand I’m asking them to take the time to read a 300-page book and then write a thoughtful couple of sentences or paragraphs on it that would be printed on the book’s back cover. Some of these writers are surely inundated with such requests and worst (“I just finished a 5,000-page trilogy. Will you read it, edit it, and help me get it published?”). Any writer knows how important it is to protect time and space for writing.
I also wonder about the whole blurbing business, which is based on getting someone more famous than you to say what you’re doing is pretty darn good. On the other hand, I know, from receiving blurbs from writers over the years, how much their words mean to me — not just as a way to market my books, but as a lantern held in the darkness of trying to publish and thrive as a writer. I have a file of special things writers have told me that I keep because of how much their words inspire me.
Just now, I got a message back from the first one I wrote about how she would love to blurb my book. I blow kisses in her direction for her help and generosity. When the illusive blurber spreads her wings, she is as beautiful as she is kind.