What is a book blurb?
Book blurbs are one of those things that many self-publishers don’t even realize are a thing because they are so fully integrated into the book reading process that we don’t notice them until they aren’t there.
Blurbs short testimonials of the book and they are featured on the front and back covers of books. Blurbs are what spur readers to buy your book.
Let’s take a blurb from the cover of Stephen King’s novel, Revival.
“A fresh adrenaline rush of terror…this is vintage King.”
The blurb doesn’t say much but it’s full of emotion and tells the reader that if they like Stephen King novels, they will love reading this book, too.
Let’s go blurbing
If an author has a lot of blurbs, they are featured on the first interior pages of the book.
I’ve written a blurb for a New York Times bestseller and it was the highlight of my day when the book came in the mail and I saw my name at the top. Woo whee!
If you have a lot of blurbs, you can add them all over your book (and you should).
Remember, readers love hearing positive testimonials about the content of the book and it will often affect their decision to buy a book.
We’re all busy people and we don’t have time to read a book that will leave us feeling “meh.”
How to get blurbs
First, you need to gather up whatever confidence you have and reach out to some big name authors who are in your same genre. I know…it’s going to be scary, but trust me and do it.
How on earth did little ole me manage to get not one but two New York Times bestselling authors to read my manuscript and provide blurbs? I asked them nicely and guess what? They were happy to do it!
Look, every author has been in your shoes before. They know what it’s like to put a book together and they understand that blurbs are how authors trade favors.
It’s the publisher’s role to get blurbs and since you are your own publisher, that means that it’s your job to do it. Fun stuff, right?
You can get in contact with authors in a few ways, the most popular being via Twitter or their email account or contact form on their author website.
I ended up friending both AK Turner and Jen Mann on Facebook (we’re totally friends, guys), so never doubt the power of social media.
What to include in a book blurb request
Your email content should be friendly and include zero pressure. After all, you’re asking for a big favor from a very busy person.
I’m self-publishing the book, [Book title], and it’s about [super brief summary here].
It would be wonderful to feature a brief book blurb from you on the cover of my book (don’t say this if their blurb is headed for the interior page) and my anticipated publication date is X.
I need to have cover blurbs sorted by [deadline].
Are you interested?
The blurb could be general based on any of my work or you could read a sample chapter from the manuscript.
Let me know if this is something you’re up for.
I’ve attached the latest draft which is still undergoing multiple rounds of proofing.
*Attach your draft manuscript to the email
What not to do with book blurbs
Don’t follow up with any blurb requests.
I know this goes against everything you think an author should do, but just don’t do it. If the author is able and interested in providing you a brief blurb, they will get back to you by the deadline.
Do not send reminders as the deadline approaches. If you haven’t heard from them by the deadline you stated in your email, then let.it.go.
How many blurbs should I collect?
That’s really up to you but understand that some authors will not get back to you by your deadline. Reach out to 5-10 people and see what happens.
There isn’t a lot of cover space for blurbs so you’ll want 1-2 for the cover and the rest can go on the interior page.
At what stage of the publishing process should I reach out to the authors?
You want to give people at least a month to respond to your blurb request. Your manuscript should be nearing its final stages of completion.
You’ll want your cover designer to add your blurbs to the cover, and the cover comes before ordering your proof. Doing the backwards math, you’ll want blurbs as soon as 2-3 months before you publish your book.
Pay it forward—send them the book
It’s an unspoken rule that you send a complimentary book to everyone who blurbed for you so be sure to get their mailing addresses and send over a thank you note with your book.
Authors and self-publishers look out for one another and it’s not only a nice thing to do, it’s the right thing.
What if someone asks me to write a blurb for their book?
Yes! I jumped for joy when AK Turner asked me to write a blurb for Vagabonding with Kids: Brazil. Not only did I get a sneak peek at the book content but I knew that my own book series would be featured somewhere on her book cover or on the interior pages.
Never did I think that I’d be featured on the front of her book cover—usually that spot is reserved for influencers in the book world.
If you’re asked to write a blurb, it’s best to keep it punchy. Write short and give the author options to choose from and permission to edit however they need for their purposes.
Obviously, prioritize this work and turnaround your book blurb well within their deadline so they can send it off to their cover designer in time for publication. Then, pop the bubbly!
In summary, book blurbs are often neglected by self-publishers because they don’t realize how to find authors to blurb, what’s standard protocol for asking for a blurb, and how to properly thank someone for blurbing for them (is blurb a verb?).
Adding book blurbs to your cover and interior pages will make your book look like a bestseller and people will think your publisher did an excellent job getting all of those authors on board to review and blurb your book.
Checklist for blurb requests:
- Email or contact authors in your genre asking for a blurb
- Include your near-final manuscript
- Include a deadline but don’t send a reminder email as the deadline looms before you
- Send all blurbs to your cover designer and let them know which blurbs to include on the cover
- Add remaining blurbs to your first interior page
- Send thank you notes and a copy of the book to everyone who provided a blurb