I’ve been hitting people up for blurbs for my February 2008 Seal Press anthology Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women, and have written a few myself, and, most of all, I actually read and pay attention to blurbs. They fascinate me, and when I read a book, I read everything⎯copyright page, acknowledgements, quotes from reviews, front and back copy. I just feel like it gives me a bigger and better sense of the book and the author.
There's debate as to whether blurbs actually sell books, but the fact of the matter is, almost all books have some sort of blurb. For some readers, it makes no difference, for others, it very well might. I know if I see, say, Anne Lamott's name on a blurb, I'll certainly pick it up and look more closely (and have in fact done so).
So anyway, just to say I’m no authority, just a girl who reads a lot, studies blurbs, and occasionally writes them. My friend Rebecca Woolf asked me for some ideas on who to send her sure-to-be-amazing memoir (or “momoir") Rockabye: A Young Mom’s Journey from Wild to Child to. I gave her a few ideas, and then started a Google news alert myself on “momoir,” which I’m going to suggest to her she do too. I start them on any topic that interests me thtat I think will be talked/written bout. It's free and all it costs me is a few more seconds each time I check my email, but it's well worth it.
I would also suggest to anyone with a book coming out or interested in a subject, to Google news alert and Google the hell out of all possible related topics, and related authors. I pay attention to what my peers are doing both because I’m interested and to see what media is covering them, and how they’re being covered. For me, up until now I’ve mostly published erotica, but I don’t want to stay trapped in the pink ghetto. I love that Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z has gotten mentions in The Morning News, The Greenwich Village Gazette, and in my college paper, The Daily Cal. The more you can think outside the box and spread the word about your book to people who might not otherwise hear about it, the better.
So for Rebecca, I suggested she follow the lead of Ariel Gore, who got a blurb from former Sleater-Kinney member Corin Tucker for her memoir Atlas of the Human Heart (which read: "A terrific and important book. Ariel Gore rips through the cultural wasteland of the 1980s with fierce desire and female angst, taking us on a wild ride. Impossible to put down.”). Gore also got blurbs from Gayle Brandeis, Michelle Tea, and Joanna Rose.
I’m waiting to hear back from my editor; so far I have a novelist and an erotic writer, and am working on a few other ideas, but I had a brainstorm today that I will share once I get the okay, but it was someone who’s not known as a writer, but is in the sex positive world and is someone who I think would a) get people talking and b) might draw in readers who might not otherwise pick up the book. (And if you have any suggestions, even if they’re out of left field, for who to hit up for blurbs, feel free to email me at rachelkramerbussel at gmail.com with “Blurb” in the subject line.) I know you only need a few for a book but I can always use them for the website. I’m really excited because Dirty Girls is as hot on the inside as the outside. As soon as final proofing is done, I’ll be sharing a sneak preview of my boiling hot summer stranger sex story, “Icy Hot.”
Because to me, while it’s all well and good to, say, if you’re a novelist, get other novelists who write about the same things you do, I’d also recommend going a little outside the norm, so if readers of blurber A and blurber B are likely to overlap, make blurber C someone whose readers wouldn’t overlap, so you cast your net widely.
A final lesson on tone, content, knowing your audience and, uh, cocaine in relation to blurbing. Note that authors aren’t the only ones in need of blurbs. In its online media kit, Gawker Media blog Jezebel lists a blurb from the blog Sex and the Ivy which states:
"Damn Gawker Media for their pioneering of all that is fresh, witty, and smart in the blogosphere. Their newest venture, Jezebel, is a women's magazine done right...on crack...Jezebel looks like the cocaine to Gawker's marijuana."