“Best Book Ever” Says Author’s Mom

I used to have a silly fantasy about getting a cool cover quote from a really famous author that read, “Doesn’t suck,” Stephen King, author of LATEST NOVEL and “Couldn’t get enough of it! By far the best book in the entire world,” Rita Hallaway, Mother of Author. But, you know, my sense of humor doesn’t sell books….

My question is: do cover quotes?

I will admit that sometimes a good cover quote will help put a book over the top for me. However, I’ve usually gotten pretty far with a book if I’m reading the cover quotes. I already have in my hand either because the title or the cover intrigued me or the book was shelved under “managers’ hard SF picks!” or someone –usually my partner — handed me the book and said, “Check this out.”

I’m also on the look out for what I call “suspect” blurbs. You know the ones that don’t really say anything or say things that could be construed as a subtle slam, ala (and this a real quote I found once) “No one writes quite like [blank].” My partner who read the book in question later said she figured what famous author must have meant was “No one writes quite as badly as [blank].” I’m also nervous of any quote that has too many ellipses, ala “This book… number one… fabulous!” Makes you wonder if the original read “This book [is no where near] number one; [it's so bad that I wonder why anyone would call it] fabulous!”

Yet, my editor gets really excited about cover quotes. I met MaryJanice Davidson (author of UNDEAD AND UNWED) at MBA, a booksellers’ trade show and introduced myself as a fellow Berkley author with a new vampire book coming out. I asked her if it would be okay for my editor to send her my book for potential blurb. When I told my editor, she was thrilled — and doubly so when a very positive quote came back. My editor also updated me weekly with the various paranormal romance superstars that agreed to blurb me. Clearly, for her, getting these kinds of quotes was extremely important to the selling of my book.

Personally, I’m a bit unconvinced, if only because people have used *me* to sell books. I read and blurbed a great book called WISH CLUB by Kim Strickland. But, given how new I am to the romance field, who on earth thinks anything I might say about a book would help sell it?

And what about that? Do you ever get turned off a book because you’ve never read the author who blurbed the book (or find out that the quote comes from a writing spouse)?

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  1. 1. Elaine

    who on earth thinks anything I might say about a book would help sell it?

    Those of us who immediately added the Strickland title to our “Keep an Eye Out for …” book list based on nothing more than you’re saying thought it was a great book?

  2. 2. Bran fan

    Judicious use of blurbs is okay. I’m not fond of blurb sluts, who blurb everything. One wonders when that person has time to read all that, much less write his/her own stuff.

    I also think that writers see right through those blurbs, but your average reader does not. Thus the editorial excitement.

  3. 3. Bran fan

    One more thing: no fair having one of your own pseudonyms blurb the other. Even as a joke. Nuh-uh.

  4. 4. David Louis Edelman

    Author blurbs absolutely help me choose whether to buy a book. I’ve picked up many authors before for no other reason than they were blurbed by other favorite authors. But you’re right, it definitely depends on the quality of the blurb.

  5. 5. Diana Pharaoh Francis

    I know that some people have read my books because of the people who blurbed them. They’ve told me so. ‘oh, wow, if Kristen Britain likes your books, then I want to try them!’ (Thanks Kristen for liking my books.) I’ve had writers read my book and decide not to blurb. Sigh. And I’ve now blurbed a total of two, one of which I thought was fabulous, and the other I didn’t really like, but when I read it, I realized that it fit into a genre I don’t really get and yet I thought people who liked that genre would really dig this book. So I was able to come up with a very honest blurb that I thought would accurately say what the book was, and probably help sell it too. (Here’s where I confess I never liked “There’s Something About Mary” or any of the Austin Powers movies–which is to say, I recognize that much of what I don’t get, other people do).

    I’ve also heard writers say that their blurb on a cover of someone else’s book is free advertisement, and so they blurb whatever they can. Might be true. But I’d rather blurb something I like than something I don’t like.

  6. 6. Simon Haynes

    I like blurbs which compare the book to something in a similar vein. If a big name author says it, it has more validity for me than a couple of comparisons from a publicist who’s yet to read the book. (‘Bigger than the Da Vinci Code’ – yeah, right.)

  7. 7. Mike Toot

    If it’s an author I’m not familiar with, I will check out the blurbs, but not for the content — I look to see who wrote the blurb. If I recognize the blurb’s author but I don’t like that blurb author’s work, then there is zero chance I’ll buy the book. Call it “guilt by association.”

  8. 8. Steve Buchheit

    It’s like an early form of Amazon’s “if you bought this, you might like this” if you like the author that did the blurb. Steven Brust has had the same damn blurb on every one of the books I’ve bought and he seems to do okay with it.

    “This book can stand on the shelf next to any great work of literature.”

  9. 9. Cameron Lowe

    I generally don’t pay much attention to the blurbs until I’m either a bit into the novel or have already finished it. Part of the reason I don’t generally like them is the mentioned tendency to take a blurb out of context.

    Later, though, it’s interesting to see who is helping pimp out a novel. I just don’t let it influence my initial decision to read something. And I think the potential for humorous blurbs is nearly unlimited. I’d love to write a novel and then have a blurb by “Hobo Frank” or “Chuck E. Cheese.”

  10. 10. Jvavfvki

    Thanks!,

Author Information

Tate Hallaway

Tate Hallaway is the best-selling paranormal romance alter-ego for an award-winning science fiction author. Her most recent novel is DEAD IF I DO is forthcoming from Berkley Trade in May of 2009. Visit site.

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