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Monday, January 26, 2009


So, I'm in the process of trying to get some blurbs for my book, Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars, and it's stressing me out.  Blurbs, of course, are those little quotes from famous people on books, telling you that the book is worth reading.  My editor has sent out galleys to maybe 15 people, half academics and half people who are not academics, and now I just sit and wait and see if anyone says anything nice.  I wonder if it would be less stressful if you received rejections from authors who have been requested to give blurbs ("Unfortunately, we receive many requests for blurbs each year and can only respond to a select few") but I have a feeling that either I'll get a nice blurb or I just won't hear anything back at all.  In this way, it's sort of like interviewing with the University of Michigan at the AALS.

Anyone have any tips for getting blurbs, or good stories about getting or giving blurbs, or anything to say about whether you look at blurbs when you're deciding to buy a book.  And is there anyone out there who would like to contribute a blurb for my book?  I don't have any more galleys to send you, but I can vouch that the book is "A wild ride.  Like no other book you've ever read" and "Will make you cry with tears of joy in between convulsions of laughter so raucous they will wake the neighbors" and, as my wife (who is no big fan of anything I write) has offered to contribute, "A little better than I expected.  I only barfed once."

And does anyone know Sarah Vowell's address?

Posted by Jay Wexler on January 26, 2009 at 09:48 AM in Jay Wexler | Permalink


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I have recently been helping a friend get blurbs. I approached one eminent scholar, who after reading the preface only, said that he thought the book was too optimistic in its predictions and would not be able to do a blurb.
Which makes me wonder: Does one have to agree with a book to blurb it? Even if one disagrees, can't one praise the work (if it merits praise, as my friend's work clearly does)? I praise quite often arguments and the like with which I don't agree, if I think it's a good argument. I praised a goal the other night by the NJ Devils against the Boston Bruins, though I certainly rooted for the Bruins.
So what, really, does a blurb mean?
The story reported above about Oliver Stone (that he will either read the book or blurb it, but not both - and keep in mind that this is something like triple hearsay) makes me think, Not much.
But to blurb - I've blurbed one book so far - seems pretty cool. I would think that people would like to see themselves blurbing books. It's maybe even parasite-like - there I am, riding on the back of a book ... I might even happen to leave it, back-cover-side-up, on the coffee table.
So, Jay, maybe just approach folks with low self-esteem?

Posted by: Brian Foley | Feb 1, 2009 2:44:19 PM

I had a professor for fiction writing while I was an undergrad who had published a book with a very nice blurb from Oliver Stone on the back. I asked him about it and he told me that Stone had told him that he had a choice, he (Stone) would either read the book or blurb it but wouldn't do both. The professor took the blurb. My understanding is that this sort of thing is fairly common in fiction. Maybe you could tell people they don't have to read it if they'll just say something nice.

Posted by: Matt | Jan 26, 2009 10:16:07 AM

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