Sunday, February 19, 2012
from the BRG archives: blah, blah, blurbs
Last year, I was asked to write a blurb for the upcoming book Kimchi and Calamari, by Rose Kent (which is a really nice book, by the way). I agreed. However, recently after perusing Amazon and looking at the images, I think my quote was not used.
Now, I am NOT upset in any way, shape or form that it wasn’t used. In fact, I am pretty relieved. I had never written a blurb before, so I tried to “sparkle”; and whenever I try to do that my writing comes off really fake. I realize now I should’ve just written an honest line about how nice I thought the book was instead of trying to be some kind of marketing soundbite. Oh well.
I think the reason why I overreached was because I was so flattered to be asked. Famous people give blurbs! It’s their name that helps sell the book, right? But in the case of Kimchi and Calamari, I couldn’t imagine how having my name on the cover would help it, except perhaps as an additional, unnecessary curiosity factor. I imagine the conversation would go something like this:
“Look, this person Grace Lin liked the book.”
“Grace Lin? Who’s that?”
“Um, wasn’t she on one of those reality shows?”
“No, I think she’s an actress on that sci fi show, Battlestar Galactica.”
“Gee, I wonder if this book is about aliens eating human food, then.”
“Maybe, are you gonna get it?”
“Naw, I hate that spaceship stuff.”
But, regardless of my blurb-writing shortcomings and pitfalls, it is the idea of the blurb that I find fascinating. Do these one to two line quotations REALLY make a difference? Do they push a browser over the edge to actually buy the book? Or does the difference come in the judgement of the book? Do these blurbs bias the readers mind, filling them with preconceived notions? Does it elevate the book to a certain stature if Famous Person A endorses it? But book people are smarter than the average George Foreman grill buying public, aren’t they? They don’t need a big name to validate their purchase or opinions. They can choose their own books without a celebrity sanction, I’m sure. Right? Right?
I ask this as I shove my George Foreman grill into the closet.
Originally posted January 24th, 2007