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Monday, August 13, 2012

Reviews & Blurbing

A couple of years ago I offered a free copy of my latest release in exchange for reviews. I wanted to give the book a proper welcome and since I felt like a total unknown, I thought getting enough reviews would help.

It was a great turnout. People SWAMPED me with requests, but when it came time to pony up, only two people were good enough to post a review. I would've blamed it on the book, but this was for True Believers, winner of TWO "Best of the Year" lists.

Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I'm going to try it again. I will give away ten copies of Mistress of the Stone. All I ask is that you post an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. The book releases on August 28. If you can post a review the last week of August or the first couple of weeks of September, that would be awesome.

Mistress of the Stone is a paranormal romance set in the early 16th century. If that's your cup of tea, email me. I'd be proud and pleased to have you read it.


Do we ever get over the fear of being unknown? Last week, an author approached me to blurb her book. I was overwhelmed and honored by the invitation but I had to turn it down. I could not in good conscience blurb her book no matter how highly she thought of me.

Blurbing a book is supposed to help the author SELL books. I honestly don't think my name carries that kind of clout. I would've been wasting her valuable space.

My regret doubled when I read the synopsis. It was the BEST synopsis I had ever read. I can't wait to read this book.

It's true that if I recommend something on this blog or Facebook, the people who regularly read me trust me not to steer them wrong. If I say something is good, they believe me because I don't heap false praise on anyone or anything. It's a responsibility I take seriously. You guys trust me not to screw you over.

But out in the open market, I'm still an unknown. Strangers have no reason to trust me. Even if they read my books, I'm no better qualified. That respect is bestowed only by the people who know me--at least as much as you can know someone on the internet.

Nonetheless, I felt privileged to be asked. It's a huge compliment to be so well considered.

How do you feel about book blurbs? 


Darke Conteur said...

I know there is (or was) this 'you blurb mine and I'll blurb yours' in TP, but I always found that rather misleading, considering I read that many of the popular authors never really read the book they were blurbing.

I would rather have someone who liked my book, no matter if they're well known or not, do a blurb. Writers are readers too, and it's the readers we're trying to impress, right?

Jennifer Shirk said...

I don't know if I've ever bought a book because of a book blurb, but I do read them to get a gist of what kind of tone the story is before I read it. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: I remember that. I don't like reciprocal blurbing. It feels contrived.

It made me doubly angry when I learned that when big time authors blurbed a book, many didn't even read it. They just lent their names.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I can say without a doubt that a blurb from a famous author never encouraged me to buy. But if it was an author I knew and respected, I might try it.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I found authors by reading the blurbs on books of authors I loved. I figured if they liked the same book as I did, then maybe I would like their books, too. Just something to consider the next time.

And if I could give reviews, I'd read your book. But I just don't do them well (actually, I hate writing them). I'm always afraid I'll give too much away, then I go the other extreme and become too vague. Oh well...

Angela Felsted said...

I wrote a book blurb for a poet just the other day, but I admit that I felt odd doing it since I'm not exactly a well known author or poet.

Melissa McClone said...

I would never buy a book because of a blurb though it might make me pick it up and read the back cover if it was a fave author of mine.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

I honestly think the synopsis is far more important than one liners designed to over promote... I never buy a book based an a blurb but I do buy based on a darned good synopsis.

E.J. Wesley said...

I think the blurbing is a nice addition to a book jacket or Amazon page, but not going to move many books. But even a few can help. Also, I think if you have a book available, your blurb holds some value, even if you aren't Stephen King.

As a reader, particularly in this digital publishing age, I basically think it's a good to know that an author is supported by their peers. That they didn't just writer a story in their basement and slap it up on Amazon. Essentially, that the author is approaching this as a business and wants to put out a good product.

However, I do completely agree with your perspectives on why you wouldn't want to endorse something you haven't read. Do that too many times, and you'll eventually lead someone to something you aren't aware of, and it could end up losing you a few fans.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I think I'd feel the same way as you. Of course they better get us now before we're bazillionaires.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I've never found a new-to-me author because of a blurb. Half the time they sound so canned--which is really funny since they're supposed to be good writers.

Angela: Poetry is a smaller community. I'll bet more people know you than you think.

Melissa: I guess if a really big name author blurbed a book, I'd be curious to know what floats her boat. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Pat: I'm a back-cover reader too. And then I read a few pages before I buy.

EJ: I don't know if we need to advertise that other authors support us. I just don't see the average reader being moved by this. But maybe I'm being naive. Wouldn't be the first time. :)

Barbara: ROTFL! From your lips to God's ear. I've always believed in the following adage:

Be nice to everyone. You never know when they'll end up as your boss.

Angela Brown said...

I can't really say that a particular author's endorsement through a blurb really encouraged me to get a book. I like recommendations within the genres I enjoy.

Having the endorsement is cool, but what it might do is make me go check out the author that did the endorsement, especially if the name doesn't jump out at me. Could be an interesting turn of events for the endorser as well.

Jackie Burris said...

First off for shame, TB was a joy to share with others! Second Maria you being asked to blurb a book is indeed cool, thanks for having the personal willpower and integrity to not endorse something without actually reading it. (Now you have me curious as to what you consider to be the best synopsis you have ever read.)

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: I never thought of that before. Still, in a perfect world I think endorsements should favor the book's author and not the endorser.


Jackie: I'll email you so you can keep an eye out for this book when it releases. It sounds fabulous!

Jackie Burris said...

Good deal Maria, always up for a new reading experience.

Jenny Schwartz said...

I envy people who can write intelligent reviews. It's hard. So I'm quite wary of making reviewing commitments. Fortunately, I'm seldom asked ... the joys of not being famous :)

Blurbing seems different to me. Different to reviews, I mean.

A review is out there: "This is my opinion." Like it, hate it, refute it. But a blurb ... that feels like a promise from an author to their readers. "Here, you'll like this book".

I have bought a book based on a blurb ... Patricia Briggs for Ilona Andrews' first book. I now auto-buy both authors :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Ref: a promise

Yes. A blurb is a confirmation. That can work for you if the author is respected--or work against you if s/he's not.

I've been around long enough (and interviewed enough BNAs) to know who's on the level and who's a drama queen. This could be why I have so little faith in blurbs.

Nadja Notariani said...

What a great honor to be asked by someone who obviously respects and values your opinion. I also respect the reason you declined; however, I wonder how new authors (since I am would get blurbs - if not from other authors/reviewers they've come in contact with.

For my first novel, I used - with permission - quotes from those who read and reviewed ARC. I hadn't realized there was any other method! Jeez! Shows what I

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: I was immensely honored. It meant so much to me to be asked.

Ref: quotes
Actually that's a very valid (and I think) better way to show validation. Reviewers do this for a living and they are usually very articulate and honest. I trust them more than other authors.

In the end, I'd be more interested in the opinion of a voracious reader than a well-known author.

Angelina Rain said...

That is so cool that somebody asked you to blurb her book.

Good luck with Mistress of the Stone! I bet it's a great book!

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

Maria, as for blurbs, as a reader I pay no attention to them. I don't even read them. If it's a review site I respect, maybe. But I have gotten to the point where I read the short desc, and if it grabs me, I download a sample. If the sample grabs me I buy the book. Have saved a lot of money this way. Oh, and I also check reviews to see if anyone says the ending fell apart or something like that.

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

Maria, as to the reviewers for your book, I know exactly what you mean. I have given quite a few books away, both digital and print, and the return rate on reviews is pitifully low. I did a digital giveaway on LibraryThing and sent out 33 books, mostly Amazon gifts, and ended up getting four reviews. Not a good return. I've had a little more luck on Goodreads, but there you have to do print books for giveaways.

Maria Zannini said...

Jim: I won't be able to do Goodreads until next year when I have the paper book out.

I don't mind if people don't want to review something, but I'm dismayed that they'd ask for a free copy with no intention of reviewing.

Shelley Munro said...

I've never bought a book because of a blurb, but they must work because all the best books have them.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: I often wonder if that's another one of those old traditions of traditional publishing. The 'we've always done it this way, so it must work' philosophy.

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, I don't think I reviewed True Believers, which is remiss of me. I did do 'Touch of Fire'. Still remember the blessed Rachel. I'd be glad to review Mistress of Stone, though it may not be as quick as you require. Out of kindness you may disagree, but I find it hard to 'review' and 'blurbing' even harder.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: You get special dispensation for always seeing my work in its rawest state. LOL.

But I'll send you Mistress if you want. It's grown a bit since you've seen it.

LD Masterson said...

I can't say I was ever moved to buy a book because of a blurb. If the blurb is from a really well known author, I figure it was written by someone on their staff and even that person probably hasn't read the book. Does that make me a terrible cynic?