Can We Trust Book Blurbs?
An article in today’s SpeakerNet News (scroll down to “Do book testimonials work? — Ian Percy”) posits that many, if not most, book blurbs are signed by people who’ve never examined the book.
I surely hope Mr. Percy is wrong! Certainly, when I’m asked for a book blurb I spend some serious time with the book and read at last several sections as well as the Table of Contents, index, etc. I will confess–I don’t generally read the whole thing–but I read enough of it that I can comment accurately. I find it scandalous that some people apparently consent to blurb a book without looking at it at all.
Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to them that ultimately, it’s *their* reputation at stake as well as the author’s. To endorse a book you don’t actually believe in is asking for trouble on both moral and practical grounds.
And when I request a blurb from someone else, I want that person to give me something based in honesty and a true appreciation of the content of the book. The blurbs I get, as a result, have enough substance that they actually do sway a sale. Yes, I believe readers can tell the difference between an honest enthusiastic blurb and a fake. (In fact, I spend some time explaining what makes a good blurb and how to get them, in my newest book Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers).
Blurbs are a crucial tool in creating a marketing buzz, and one that helps equalize the playing field between those books published by big houses and those published by small independents. Let’s not cheapen them, please!