Thursday, February 24, 2022

Please Blurb Me! from James W. Ziskin

 As authors we’re often put in an enviable position – we get to read books ahead of publication because we’re asked to provide comments for other authors to use as blurbs, or as early reviews. Do you approach “early reading” differently than the way you read already published books on your TBR pile?

I’ve written blurbs for more than thirty books in the past couple of years. I’ve done it gladly. It’s important to give back to the community that has done the same for me. So many generous writers do this incredible favor for authors trying to forge a career. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to make the request. I’m always hesitant to ask fellow writers to read a book of mine and provide a couple of lines to praise it. It’s hard, but I’ve done it. And I like to think I’ve balanced the scales by helping others.

But how do I approach books when I’m asked for a blurb? Do I write a stellar notice no matter what? Actually, I’ve been lucky. The books I’ve blurbed in recent years have not disappointed. But even if they had, I’d try to see the good and concentrate on that. I certainly understand that my opinions are subjective. If I’m not thrilled by a book, other readers surely will be. So I focus on the positive and try to note something readers will enjoy. And I try to concentrate on that. Because no book will appeal to everyone. 

It’s actually a privilege to read books before everyone else. I appreciate it and feel extremely lucky. Sometimes, believe it or not, I’m miffed when I’m NOT asked to blurb a cool book. Did I offend that person? Am I not important enough? (Just kidding.)

When authors approach me for a blurb, I request a Word Doc. That way I can listen to the book using Word’s Read Aloud feature when I’m driving. The quality is quite good. And it allows me to consume more fiction than I might normally do.

As for when a book has already been published, I agree with Nick (see yesterday’s post.) If I don’t like a book, I do not leave negative reviews. I say nothing. My mother always said, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” What’s the point? I’m not some great arbiter. Why should people care about my opinion? One of the sharpest daggers I ever felt in my writing career was when a well-known author chose to post a one-star rating for my first book on Goodreads. No comment. Nothing but one star. For a book that, while not perfect, was well received and didn’t deserve—in my opinion—the lowest rating possible on Goodreads.. I wouldn’t post a one-star rating for any honest book ever.

My TBR pile is perpetually high. I want to read everything, but that’s not possible. Instead, I try to wheedle it down, all the while respecting the tremendous effort and talent that went into each book.




Dietrich Kalteis said...

Great post, Jim. I share your views on writing blurbs.

Liz Milliron said...

I'll always appreciate you taking the time to blurb my first Homefront book, Jim. (And it was a pretty great blurb, too.)

Susan C Shea said...

You do realize you will now be asked to blurb my next book?!

Vinnie said...

Even though I don't know you as well as Susan does, after reading how generous and kind you are about blurbing, I had exactly the same thought! I'm trying to muster the courage to send you a message now. :)