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Blurbs: Debate from the New York Times

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boswellbaxter
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Blurbs: Debate from the New York Times

Post by boswellbaxter » Thu March 8th, 2012, 1:31 am

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu March 8th, 2012, 2:28 am

I am only a mere reader and this is only my opinion, but I never ever pay attention to blurbs. I might read them on the book jacket, but as far as whether to read the book or not they have no impact at all.
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Post by bevgray » Thu March 8th, 2012, 1:13 pm

I never pay them much attention since I always assume they are taken out of context or just part of the advertising blitz. I'm far more apt to select a book based on the description and a few sample pages.
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Post by donroc » Thu March 8th, 2012, 1:43 pm

Years ago, I saw a blurb for the then relatively unknown James Clavell whose King Rat had a blurb from Ian Fleming on the paperback cover -- LARGER then the author's name. If one did not pay attention ....

I believe most blurbs from peers are in-house for the name authors or payback for nice reviews written by them in the NY Times.

I have not received feedback that any of the blurbs on my covers created sales.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu March 8th, 2012, 4:01 pm

If you mean book description-type blurbs, I do read those and they influence my buying decision by telling me time, place, and genre, with maybe a hook. I like it when the back cover copy has something like: "At the start of WWI, Sue finds herself caught in the intrigues between a fanatic German sympathizer and her promise to a dying lover."

If the back-cover copy features a whole long line of "Great book, loved it," "Couldn't put it down," blah, blah, blah, then I'm no further along than before. Lots of books that I hated were loved by other people, including famous authors. The only recommendation-type blurb that would carry weight with me would be from someone that I had already noticed had similar tastes. Given the zillions of different readers in their differing stages of awareness, only update-able, personalize-able media like blogs, forums and Amazon algorithms can do that. Book covers can't.

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Post by SGM » Thu March 8th, 2012, 8:51 pm

[quote=""MLE""]If you mean book description-type blurbs, I do read those and they influence my buying decision by telling me time, place, and genre, with maybe a hook. [/quote]

Ditto. I pay attention to the descriptions on the back covers otherwise how would I know when or where the action was set. If it appears the action is set in a time or place I have no interest in, then I would be influenced not to buy or read it. i don't pay any attention to what other writers have said.
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Post by Mythica » Thu March 8th, 2012, 11:31 pm

I thought blurbs were the book-description and of course I read those, I'm not going to buy and read a book without even knowing what it's about - the cover and title can only tell you so much in many cases.

Quotes from other authors or pro reviews I usually take with a grain of salt - I always suspect there is some kind of quid-pro-quo going on. My husband used to be a journalist and can confirm bribery is rampant in reviewing. And author reviews I tend to think are some kind of professional courtesy or something. I'm a firm believer that it's unprofessional for authors to be slagging off the work of other authors so that often makes me wonder how genuine their reviews or comments are.

I'm sure these are not always the case but I'm far too cynical to believe it never happens and since I can't be sure which are genuine and which aren't, I always skip over them and look for the book description.

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Post by DianeL » Fri March 9th, 2012, 12:19 am

I don't seem to read a lot of blurbed books - or, at least, they have little enough impact on my reading, I don't even remember they exist. The book itself should make me forget anything about why I picked it up or sought it out.

Donroc, I always think of your sig as sort of a mini-blurb. Do you intend it to be a marketing tool, having that by your name in social media? I'd thought that was the intention; I'm interested in your perspective! :)
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Post by donroc » Fri March 9th, 2012, 2:59 am

[QUOTE=Donroc, I always think of your sig as sort of a mini-blurb. Do you intend it to be a marketing tool, having that by your name in social media? I'd thought that was the intention; I'm interested in your perspective! :) [/QUOTE]

The blurb in my sig definitely is a marketing tool, but I knew it was more likely to be noticed by older generations. I like having it because Barnaby Conrad is an author who made a great impression when I was in my twenties during the 1950s when I was in grad school and in my "Hemingway phase." His acclaimed best seller Matador was a fictional account of Manolete's last corrida. He had a great restaurant by the same name in San Francisco. Later when I met him one-on-one, he read and respected my writing. If you Google Barnaby Conrad, you will see he has had published more than 30 books and is still writing into his early 90's.


Rocamora also received effusive praise from Anita Shreve in several letters to me (long story how we met socially, etc.) and she tried to get her publisher interested in it before she appeared on Oprah and acquired real clout. Anita was seriously ill at the time Rocamora was about to be published, so I could not get permission from her.

Nowadays, I believe the best marketing tool is word of mouth through the social media, unless one has the luck that a major celebrity/TV host praises it or there is a film deal. When I select fiction to read, it is based on the subject matter that interests me. I do not read the praise any book receives on Amazon because I do not know the background of the civilian reviewers, although I will take any 4 or 5 star. :D Also, I prefer to read the opening paragraphs to help my decision to purchase.

Hope I answered your question to your satisfaction.

Based on posts I have read on several sites, it seems readers do not pay attention, depending upon the individual, to blurbs, reviews, prologues, forewords, author's notes, acknowledgements -- can't please everyone, so I know I can always please myself.
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Post by DianeL » Sat March 10th, 2012, 1:09 am

At the end of the day, as long as we're professional and dedicated when it comes to the work, I suspect pleasing oneself is all an author can hope for out of all the many "you must do this" marketing rules and self promotion. Thank you for shedding some light!
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The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
---Medieval Kingship, Henry A. Myers

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