On Blurbing

Is this thing on?
Is this thing on?
I get mail. And sometimes it isn’t hatemail! Okay, okay, often it isn’t hatemail. I do get more positive and constructive letters than angry, nasty screeds.

Well, most weeks I do. All part of being a woman on the internet, right?

Ahem. Anyway, this landed in my contact form queue, and after I replied I thought hey, there are probably other people who have this question too.

From: *redacted*

Subject:
Question Regarding Manuscrit

Message:
Hello,

I’m in the process of trying to get a manuscript published and I noticed that you offer editing services. Editing isn’t quit what I’m looking for so I wanted to touch base and see if there was something we could work out.

What I am hoping is to have an established author in the (somewhat) same genre be able to offer a front cover blurb/ few words on the story.
Since you were the one who inspired me to become a writer I wanted to reach out to you first. So I guess I’m wondering if this would be of interest to you (blurb below) and if so, how much it would cost?

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time,
*redacted*.

Blurb:
*redacted*

Again, thank you for your time.

This is very polite, and I can’t blame the person for thinking that’s how the whole thing works, given how movie quotes are farmed. Bonus points for being upfront and telling me editing isn’t what s/he’s looking for, extra bonus points for thanking me for my time. and triple-dog-dare-you bonus points for taking a very professional tone.

Here’s my reply:

Dear *redacted*,

Thank you for writing to me. I am honoured to be considered an inspiration.

Blurbing a book means the author who does so is putting their own reputation on the line for the work in question, and requires a significant time investment of reading the work in question. Standard industry practice is for an agent or publisher to reach out to the established author’s agent (or the author, if they have a personal/professional relationship with the established author) after the book has passed through editing, copyediting, and quite possibly the proof stage. Also, blurbs should never, ever be paid for. If an “established author” is offering to blurb your book for cash, it is a scam and definitely NOT in your best interests as a professional to pay them. Money, as Yog’s Law states, should always flow towards the writer.

I suggest you familiarise yourself with Writer Beware and other sites that can help you in your writing career, keep you from being taken advantage of, and familiarise you with best standards and professional practice.

Good luck,

Lili Saintcrow

I wish this fellow writer the best–the professionalism and politeness exhibited in the letter will carry them far. I also wish I could have helped them more, but charging for cover quotes/blurbs is NOT OKAY, is NOT PROFESSIONAL, and is a sign that some poor writer is being scammed. I’m not able to blurb half the books I want to, because my reading time is so saturated with research I can’t get them into the queue.

Got a question about publishing/writing? Hit up my contact form, and if enough people ask or it’s a really good question, I’ll answer with a blog post. (I can’t answer everyone, of course.) I’m also over on Ask.fm, but that’s more likely to get a very short answer.