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THE OLE BOOK BLURB – IS IT WORTH IT?

November 5, 2013

            I had to go to the Nellis base exchange for something and stopped by the book section. I spotted a paperback novel with a book blurb by Lee Child. Wow! Three things popped into my head. #1: The author met Mr. Child at a conference. #2: If the author didn’t meet Mr.Child, the publisher bought the book blurb. #3: The book is most likely a thriller.

            I read the blurb on the back and yup, it’s a thriller, but nothing like a Jack Reacher novel, which Lee Child is known for. I thought about the blurb and browsed the text and it didn’t strike my fancy, maybe because of the blurb or it was written in first-person. I can’t remember. The point is that the blub, though it made me at least pick the book off the shelf, had no other effect on me. The only reason it did was out of morbid curiosity.

As an up-and-coming author, as much as I’d love to have a big-time author blurb my book, I have an issue with that. I don’t believe the blurb. Why? What are the chances a big-time author has the time to actually read a manuscript from some up-and-coming schmuck? Yeah, sure. That means either he or his publicist made it up based on the back cover or info conveyed to him by either the new author or the author’s publicist. In other words, it’s probably bull.

Don’t get me wrong. Blurbs can be a great marketing ploy for the mass public (in other words, the uninformed). On the other hand, if I ever get to the point I want one, I want it from an author I actually know, and one that’s actually read the manuscript.

Later that day, the family and I went to Barnes & Noble and lo-and-behold, I saw another thriller with the quote (I’m paraphrasing here) “This novel will give serious competition to Lee Child and his Jack Reacher Character.” It cited some book or magazine or web site. Another quote stated, “It out-Reachers Jack Reacher!” Bla bla bla.

This time it wasn’t a blurb from an author but a quote from a review.

Uh huh… As someone who’s had his reviews taken out of context, I’ll take a pass on that one as well. I find review quotes as questionable as most book blurbs. I once wrote a movie review on Amazon, gave it one star, deservedly so, tore it up, yet the movie company somehow found a line in my review that was positive (okay, I always have something good to say in every review, no matter how bad the overall word picture is) and quoted it! I can’t remember the movie but they took the one and only good thing I said and used it in their tag line! In a way, I find that an honor. Yet, where do I rate over some “qualified” movie reviewer… okay, I don’t get paid like they do…

Back to Barnes & Noble… Despite all, I was tempted to pick this book up until, to my horror, I discovered it was written in first-person. Aagh! Sorry, no dice. Spoiled all the fun. I was ready to see if those reviews lived up to the hype.

When it comes down to it, do I have enough integrity to put the kibosh on phony marketing the publisher may throw on my book jackets? Will I have the guts to tell them no? Will I even have a say in it? I’d like to think so. I’d like to think that if you, as a reader see a blurb or a quote on something I’ve published, it’s genuine and not something someone was paid to do, something they wrote and not their publicist. One can only dream.

Will you be able to say the same thing?

Happy writing!

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