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Friday, April 26, 2013

Selling Books: Blurbs Prove the Power of Words...

...but only if they're great blurbs!

My best results for blurbs for all genres--poetry to how-to nonfiction books--has been from what some call fan letters but I just call communication with my readers. People seem to be more effusive when they are writing e-mail or letters they have no idea might be reprinted. The idea of words being published seems to make people's prose stiff and less readable or memorable!

I copy and paste the part I'd like to use as a blurb back to them and ask permission. Then I ask how they'd prefer to be credited.  The last part of that question is important because it lets them know that providing the quote can help their exposure to the public, too. (-:

The downside to this method is that one doesn't get fan mail until after one is published, so it must be supplemented with the tried-and-true method of asking folks upfront to collect enough blurbs needed for the book's cover, and for the pre-publish media kit.

OK. If this seems familiar to you, I admit I cribbed the idea from my own Frugal Book Promoter ( But the question came up in a communication from Independent Book Publishers Association so I thought I'd share my take on it. And if you need help with getting blurbs pre-publiciation, you'll want to read the chapter on query letters in The Frugal Editor and turn to the appendix for examples of different kinds of query letters. (

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:


Magdalena Ball said...

Excellent. We often forget that gold mine in those informal letters of praise. Your suggestion is particularly valid with celebrities, to whom you could send a pre-press copy of your book. Any positive feedback at all from them could easily become a great back cover blurb.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thanks for dropping by, Magdalena. I guess this is also a lesson in letting our passion shine through in whatever we write, huh?

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, I do the same thing! If a student or client emails me something nice, I copy the section I'd like to use as a recommendation and ask for permission to use it. So far it's worked like a charm. :)

Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters