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Somehow people have morphed this word so when a lot of independent publishers say "blurb," they mean like book description. A blurb is an endorsement. It is one of those nice little or long quotes from luminaries that you see on the cover, on the back cover on Amazon that you see all over the place.
They are also one of the most misunderstood book marketing tactics.
Think about your book-buying experiences.
Have you ever bought a book because of the blurb?
Like, Oh, holy shit, yeah. John Smith blurb that I better, but nobody does that.
Blurbs are simply sort of social credit and validity and they show our legitimacy and all of these things.
But as an author and as a publisher of many authors, I have both experienced and seen how misunderstood they are.
What happens is an author gets really excited about their book. If you're an author, you feel me. You think everybody is really excited about your book. You think, "You know what I'd really like? Let's get Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown to blurb my book." The problem is millions of people all over the world are thinking the same thing.
So what you think is, "Well, I know millions of people are thinking that, but if they read my book, they're going to want to blurb mine." The problem is Glennon, Elizabeth and Brene already have a long list of really good friends who want them to blurb their books. And I know this because I am certainly not Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle, or Brene Brown and I have that.
For my first book, Party Girl, I didn't know. I just thought you just ask hundreds and hundreds of people. So I asked everyone I knew, which was mistake number one, because I couldn't use all of them. So now I've had somebody do me this enormous favor of reading my book, and I'm not even using what they did.
But I got lucky that first time.
I was out and I saw Jerry Stahl, who is like the person who made me want to be a writer and I basically said, "Oh, my God, you made me want to be a writer. I have my first book coming out in eight months" or whatever. And he very generously said to me something I never say to anybody. He said, "Would you like me to blurb your book?"
And I was blown away. It turns out Jerry Stahl is the most generous. There could be a club for people whose Jerry Stahl blurbed our first books, but he wrote me the nicest blurb. And then because I had this incredibly generous, nice blurb from somebody that was very well respected, I then went and sent that around. I remember I sent it to Dr. Drew, who I am now friends with, but I barely knew at the time. And he said, "Oh, my God, after reading that blurb, I have to read this book."
And then I got a blurb from him and it sort of went from there.
Now, what I didn't understand is I was so excited about my book, I thought, "Well, it's just a great honor for people to be able to to to blurb my book."
It's not an honor. I just sort of took it for granted that people would want to do it. And it's only when people started to come to me to blurb their books and I started to see in —the same sort of ugly behavior I hadn't recognized in myself. I remember this is who taught me: Lisa Smith, who's now a good friend of mine, asked me to blurb her book. Girl Walks Out of a Bar, I blurb it, she sends me the book, she sends me a gift certificate to get a massage, all of these things.
And I realized then this is a really big deal. So if you ask anybody to blurb your book, make sure you express your gratitude, you don't have to get them a massage. But that was really, really nice. I got was outdoors at the hotel back when we could all go outside. Oh, lovely. Thank you, Lisa.
But my point is this. I get emails all the time from people who have clearly not read my books but are very excited about their book and they believe that I should be very honored to blurb them.
If you send a blurb request to a stranger, your chances of getting a yes are not great but there are ways you can go about this that are super, super effective and super, super ineffective.
Below this post you can read examples of ineffective and effective blurb requests I've received.
Make sure you've read their books and make sure you are being very, very clear about why they are the perfect person to blurb your book and how much it would mean to you to have a blurb from them.
This is also something that happens increasingly...back 10 years ago, I heard about this and I was like, Oh, people do that?" You could say to somebody who's extremely busy, "Hey, I know you're really, really busy. You don't have to read the whole thing. And in fact, if you'd like, I could write something, run it by you. And if you approve it, then we can use it as a blurb." Some people may be incredibly violated and offended by that. I know that I have both done that and had people do that to me and I am completely fine with that.
With some of the books that we've done, we've gotten celebrities—we got Magic Johnson to blurb a book. He didn't even have time to sit down and write it. So you could interview somebody and get the blurb over the phone.
But I also think let's say you have a book coming out in a year and you want to get big names to blurb your book?
Now, I'm not talking about Glennon Doyle, I'm not talking about Tim Ferriss. I'm talking about like the tier down from the tier down, from the tier down...like me kind of level. If you want somebody who is just say they're not famous, but they are New York Times best-selling authors, they are Ted speakers, whatever it is, start stalking them in a very gentle, kind, loving way online. Start following them, start subscribing to their newsletters, start reviewing their podcasts, start joining their paid communities, whatever you can do, and start responding.
You'd be shocked how much you can be noticed. I have people that I have helped tremendously because they just started popping up in all the places. And I have had people who have helped me tremendously because I started popping up on their places and commenting and all of these things.
So let's say this is like an influencer that you've developed a relationship with over the years. When you have a book coming out, you can just tell them. You can say, I would love to send you a copy of this if it resonates with you. I would love it if you could write a blurb but no worries. I know how busy you are, blah, blah, all the things.
But let's say you're like, OK, fine, I don't have the time to do that. I don't know any New York Times best-selling authors or TED speakers or influencers or whatever it is.
Your next best bet is somebody who is an expert in your field and maybe that's a professor you had from college. Maybe, you know, we did a book on franchises. And so the franchising experts that we got blurbs from are not, you know, boldface names that anyone else is going to know. But in the franchising world, everybody knows them.
So so it's basically you just want this is what we do with Launch Pad. We only require our clients to have one blurb because we put that on the back cover. Anything else is extra credit.
Darren Prince, the client who had Magic Johnson blurbing his book, he literally got so many blurbs that we filled the entire back cover and then 12 more pages in the book. But it's not necessary. I think one of the reasons people think blurbs are so important is that it's kind of fun to get a blurb. You know, it's kind of like, hey, let's talk about how great I am. So if that's something that is fun for you, absolutely.
Go and gather them. But please, please don't let it stress you out. It is not required. And let's say you've got some influencer who's who you can call in one favor with someone, don't blow it on the blurb.
Wait until your book is out. Ask them to post about it, send out a newsletter about it, whatever it is. So that is how you get blurbs for your book. If you liked this video, if you're watching it on video, please give it a thumbs up hit subscribe. Do you go watch the other videos about building your brand with a book? And if you are listening to this on the podcast to God, I love you, please don't forget that you can D.M. Me your questions for me to answer.
Want me to answer your question? DM me on Instagram and I will see you soon.
Talk to you next time.
Here’s an example of an ineffective request I just received:
Hello Anna . . .
I am a writer and a long-term member of the recovery community. My publisher recently released TK BOOK NAME, the sequel to my first book, TK BOOK NAME. All three books share addiction themes.
Here’s what’s come in so far:
BLURB EXAMPLES FROM PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW
All I ask is a three-page read; if I don’t have your attention by then, pass (I take no hostages).
A brief description is here: TK WEBSITE. The book is 220 pages long, published by TK PUBLISHER. I would be happy to send copies.
Here’s why I deleted the email:
-It’s clear he sent a blanket email to people he thought could help him having no idea what I write [think about asking a stranger to read your material without bothering to read any of theirs first!!]
-The “three-page read” ask still puts a busy person [and who isn’t these days?] in a bind, leaving me to write him back and basically say his book didn’t grab me at all or to say yes.
-There’s no acknowledgment of the fact that this is a hefty request; the tone suggests instead that I would be so excited by the first 3 pages that I would be getting a lot out of doing it.
In short, asking someone to blurb your book is A HUGE favor. If you don’t have a personal connection with the person, I highly recommend making it clear WHY you’re asking that particular person and that you understand it’s a major thing to ask from a stranger.
Now here’s an example of the sort of blurb request that would get a “hell yes” from anyone (it’s from someone I knew and had had on my podcast):
You are a gem! The interview sounds FANTASTIC (it was a delight talking to you) and I have shared it a few places on social media already and will continue to share in various outlets over the next few days. I also have it up on my resources website. And thanks for electing to use the sassy picture!
I am so stoked about your work and everything that you are doing. If you need me or see any further possibilities for collaboration, just give me a shout out. I probably won't be out to LA again until next year but lots can be done remotely as you know.
Also, might you have a willingness to take a peek at my upcoming book on Expressive Arts Therapy & trauma recovery (Process Not Perfection) as I prepare to gather "endorsement blurbs" for the cover? It would mean a lot to me to have as many strong female recovery leaders as possible on the pages. Let me know, and no pressure at all if this is something you're not willing or able to do.
Much love, Jamie
"You think everybody is really excited about your book. You think, 'You know what I'd really like? Let's get Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown to blurb my book.' The problem is millions of people all over the world are thinking the same thing."
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