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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Blurbs and Marketing: Putting on Your Big Girl Pants (A2R Marketing)

There comes a time in your book writing life that you have to put on your big girl pants and get out into the world.

There are many stages to getting a book in front of the public. When a launch looms, palms begin to sweat and the second guessing kicks in. A writer must trust that she has made every effort to create the best work possible. Then it comes time to say, "Publish."

While the final draft is readied for public consumption, an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) or other uncorrected proof is distributed for - gulp - blurbs. Early reviews and cover blurbs are an essential step in a successful launch. This is where the rubber hits the road.

A blurb is a one or two sentence endorsement of your work that graces the cover or first pages of your book. The best are from a person with a voice, a name, and an audience. Maybe it's another author in your genre or a professional in an industry your book touches. What horror author would not want a "Gotta read this book!" from Stephen King or a "Love It!" from Blake Shelton if your romance novel touches on life as a country singer.

I am a firm believer in soliciting feedback on a work in progress at many points during the writing stages. Writers groups and beta readers are critical components of creating a good work and the more harsh the criticism the better you will learn. Having your manuscript buffed by a professional editor is essential.

Lots of advice exists for asking for a blurb. There is even advice for writing your own blurb. But, there is very little advice in getting up the nerve to ask for a blurb. This is where big girl pants help.

If you're traditionally published, many publishers have a stable of folks they routinely ask to blurb for a new book. It can be a give-to-get: I'll give your books blurbs if you give my book a blurb. It's the way business works. But what if you don't have that kind of support from your publisher or you're an indie. Then what?

Then you have to do it yourself.
  1. Read. Read. Read. Note the authors that resonate with you. Write down their names. Figure out how to contact them. Meet them if you can.
  2. Make sure you have the best damned book you can create. Don't skimp on the process. Workshop it. Beta it. Have it professionally edited. 
  3. Aspire. Reach. Target peers but also target someone who is beyond where you are now and is where you hope to be. 
  4. Know the answer to this question: Why should I blurb for you? 
  5. Craft the best possible query letter you can. Then shorten it.
This process starts six to eight weeks before your launch date. Potential blurb writers will need at least three to four weeks to read your ARC. Hope for them to say "Yes." Don't fault them or you if they say "no." Some authors like to blurb only within their genre. That's fine. I believe readers are interested in reading outside of a genre's silo, so I like to solicit authors who write suspense as well as genres my books touch, like women's fiction or political thrillers. 

So remember:

Be gracious. Be appreciative. Do your homework.

...then put on your big girl pants, write that request for a blurb, and press "send."

More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.