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Unread 07-31-2020, 10:09 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Default Getting book blurbs!

A thread of general interest.

I have a book coming out soon called Of Course, from Kelsay Books that will need back-cover blurbs. My concern is elementary, you’d think, but since I’ve not done this before, I’m unsure how best to proceed with getting about three blurbs about 100 words long from people that will encourage possible purchasers to purchase Of Course, for their own. It’s highly metrical for the most part, with a lot of attention to re-establishing certain Greco-Roman meters in English. But, be that as it may, this thread is less about that book than the subject of blurb getting.

There’s a bunch of you on Eratosphere whom I know and like. And many of you, known personally or not, have had books out. Before I tap anyone directly, I throw open the question: How did you get your blurbs? What steps did you take? In what order? Did you stray from personal relationships? That is, did anyone successfully get a blurb from a “name” whom you sort of “cold called” out of a clear sky, so to speak? That is, did anyone successfully send a draft of your forthcoming manuscript to a fairly well-known poet or other writer whom you haven’t had much or any contact with at all, with the idea that your style(s) might get a positive response?

I’m a very old-fashioned guy and naive about all of this! Any advice from anyone will be appreciated. (I can include you in the dedication of my next book - not quite a joke.)
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  #2  
Unread 07-31-2020, 05:10 PM
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Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
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I'm very wary about answering this question, and for a number of reasons. The primary one is this: although I'm very grateful to everyone who has written back-cover copy for me, I hate everything about the process. I wish I could just include an extra poem on the back cover, but no publisher yet has let me go with that idea. When asked, I usually decline to write blurbs and offer instead to write a review.

That said, I'll try to offer something useful. First, confirm with your publisher that it's your job entirely to find the blurbers. It may not be; it may be that you can suggest names and your publisher will approach people.

When it has fallen to me, I've tried to make the request early (editing back to add: it's always been by email), determine how (electronic copy? hard copy?) the blurber wants to receive the text, and be very clear about when the publisher needs copy.

I have always stuck with people who had specific knowledge of at least a bit of my work. For my first book, only Sphereans had that, and I stuck to them. Some ways to get past those limits: If you've won or placed in a contest, it makes sense to try the judge of that contest; he or she might well be your best shot at a "name." Another possibility is someone who has critiqued your work at a conference and had good things to say. Editors who have published your work--especially if they've published you several times--are good choices. For young people, teachers are a good bet.

I'll be interested to hear whether others have advice about cold-calling "big names."

I hope this is some help!

Last edited by Maryann Corbett; 07-31-2020 at 05:28 PM.
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Unread 07-31-2020, 05:26 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Try fake blurbs, Allen. "It was so good I forgot to pee." Or "I laughed until I stopped" (which is Monty Python, Guy the Gorilla, I think). Just spitballing, fwiw.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 08-01-2020 at 02:02 AM.
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Unread 07-31-2020, 05:29 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Thank you Maryann, and also you, James (thank you). I will promptly communicate further with the publisher on this. So far my publisher seems to have left it open ended and up to me.

I will reread the information again, but that's what I have so far. So my quest remains open. I'd super appreciate more commentary, thoughts, and further suggestions.

Also, before I gently hustle anyone here, to anyone who would like to step forward : please PM me soon.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 07-31-2020 at 05:32 PM.
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Unread 07-31-2020, 05:50 PM
Chris O'Carroll Chris O'Carroll is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maryann Corbett View Post
Editors who have published your work--especially if they've published you several times--are good choices.!
That's great advice. Some of the poems in your ms. have been published in good journals, I assume? So the editors of those journals agree with you that your work is worth reading. Ask them if they'd be willing to say as much in 100 words or so.
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Unread 07-31-2020, 06:14 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Chris, it sounds absolutely reasonable. However, one British editor who published me multiply may have died or is at any rate in a retirement home. I’d have get to her somehow. Another (John Mella of the hardcopy “Light”) has absolutely passed away. Another, whom I hesitate to mention because of a mortal and very stupid feud with someone on Eratosphere, is also regarded with disdain by other spokespeople for certain political points of view; yes, this guy actually is a sticky “piece of work”, but he published my original dactylic hexameters and a German translation when no one else would. As you might guess, this book contains some of my older things that I want to get out of the way. Several magazines have new poetry editors with no affection for what I do. Those other editors are getting very scarce. I must think.
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Unread 07-31-2020, 06:15 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is online now
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I have eschewed blurbs for my last two books.
The whole process is ridiculous, and they do nothing.

Nemo
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Unread 07-31-2020, 06:22 PM
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Kevin Rainbow Kevin Rainbow is offline
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Why do you "need" them?

Why not simply a good description of what is in the book and an excerpt therefrom?

If it is available to purchase at Amazon.com, it will eventually have "blurbs" in the form of reviews from people who have bought the book.
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Unread 07-31-2020, 06:45 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Dave Eggers provided his own blurb in the title of his 2000 memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Not a bad marketing ploy, there.

A.E. Stallings generally prints a poem instead of blurbs on the back covers of her collections. Then again, she's got buckets of hard-earned name recognition to compensate for that of the luminaries who might have been blurbing her.

I sometimes see blurbs that put me in mind of the cheerfully uncritical testimonials and reviews of William Topaz McGonagall's work, e.g. "The volume is well got up, printed in clear type, on good paper, and is embellished with a portrait of the poet, each copy being signed with his autograph" and "I have no hesitation in declaring that Shakespeare never wrote poetry like Mr McGonagall’s."
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Unread 07-31-2020, 06:47 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Hello Nemo! It’s Kelsay Books, and at this time they seem to think and expect that blurbs (3 no less) are part of their plans for the back cover. When I looked at Michael Cantor’s “Furusato” from Kelsay, Mike had three: a brief one from a person whom I think might be a Pow-Wow reading group co-member. That was impressive to me since the blurber is a careful Eratospherean that I’ve had a tiny bit of Sphere contact with and said true good things about here. Another Spherean blurber was a big Eratosphere lady whom I don’t know much about. The third may be a Spherean or not: good and descriptive words from her, but a stranger to me.

Nemo, what went on the back covers of your last two books?

Kevin, are you suggesting that I write my own abstract of the book’s contents? Not a bad idea. I will ask the publisher about that. Thanks.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 08-01-2020 at 10:43 AM. Reason: had
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