I've been thinking about blurbs recently, not least because I've just done one for Caroline Smailes's Black Boxes and two people I've mentioned this to have asked me whether I'd read it.
SO JUST FOR THE RECORD, OF COURSE I HAVE OTHERWISE I WOULDN'T HAVE COMMENTED!
I'm not sure why I've put that in caps apart from the fact that I really really can't understand the idea that you might put your name and recommendation on a book that you didn't love. But much much more than that ... why on earth, as an author, would you want someone's name on YOUR book who didn't love it. Or, worse, hadn't actually read it.
I know there's a cynical attitude 'out there' that blurbing is just done as an act of croneyism but this hasn't been my experience or that of anyone I've talked to. Maybe I've just been lucky but I don't think so. Most writers aren't stupid. What will having your name on a book you don't think is all that good say about you? It's worrying to have to read a book by someone you've become friends with - if you don't like their writing, will you still like them?
But the other side of the coin is becoming friends with someone after you've fallen in love with their book. I've 'met' lots of the writers I am proud to call my friends now first through their words, and I can't understand why people think it's some kind of plot when writers become friends with each other and go out of their way to champion each other's books - even by giving reviews on Amazon. We are readers too.
And it makes me sad that I have to think twice about asking these friends to 'blurb' my books, or to agree to 'blurb' theirs, in case we get accused of not meaning it. It isn't a plot to keep other writers out of the in-gang, as some journalists seem to think, because there's nothing better than finding new writing friends.
I take the privilege of people agreeing to put their names on my books extremely seriously. When The ABCs of Love came out in the US, the publishers sent it out to various writers for quotes, and I made sure that I read something by everyone who had been kind enough to say something. Equally when I got sent Kate Long's book to read, and was proud to give a quote, I knew I'd found a writing soulmate when she contacted me to discuss my writing too.
The good thing is that this isn't unusual. It is a compliment to be asked to give a blurb for someone, and, from my experience, it's enormously frightening to have to ask for one. So I hate the idea that we might become cynical about it.
And so, for the record, I have read Black Boxes and I absolutely loved it and I recommend that you read it too.
Sorry, I'm not sure why this has turned into some kind of rant, and of course, asking people you like and respect for quotes can produce some stunners. Here's Neil's first attempt, and the one I wish I'd been brave enough to use! Maybe I will one day...
"Sarah Salway is the Madonna of writing books. The dancing one, not the Mother of Jesus one. Except she's younger and has had less plastic surgery. Sarah Salway that is. Also she writes really well."
The only thing I'd add to that is that I've had NO plastic surgery, not just less... I do love yoga though. And dancing. Perhaps that's the next stage of blurbing - the qualifiers.
This is the best book ever by the best writer ever!!! Blurber
(ps Actually Shakespeare is much better, Author)
No wonder we normally leave getting blurbs up to our publishers!