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Chocolate & Vicodin: Blurbs a.k.a. begging for compliments

U Rock

Although copyediting is my least favorite part of the publication process, soliciting blurbs is the part that makes me the most uncomfortable. Blurbs are the short, positive endorsements from other authors, experts and people-more-famous-than-you which are printed on the back of the book. They’re part of the overall strategy to convince the average book buyer to purchase your book.

This is how it goes: First, I have to lure you in with a clever title and/or an intriguing cover. That gets you to pick up the book and read the back, which contains a snappy synopsis that tells you enough about the book to pique your interest, but doesn’t give away the whole thing. Then you read the blurbs, which are meant to give you a final push toward the cash register, reassuring you that well-respected, accomplished people who know what they’re talking about think you should definitely buy this book.

The part that makes me feel awkward is that I have to contact well-respected, accomplished people who know what they’re talking about and ask them to read my book and say nice things about it. It’s sort of the publishing equivalent of asking someone out on a date. There’s always the chance that they’ll reject you outright, and even if they do say yes they might not like you once they take you out. It also makes me uncomfortable because it breaks the unspoken rule of networking, which is that you should give before you take. Leave a penny before you take a penny!

One thing you have going in your favor is that you are usually asking other authors for blurbs, authors who have been in the same position as you. So, another unspoken rule is that if you expect to get blurbs, you should be willing to give blurbs, too. Many authors are very kind about this, no matter how many best-selling books they have or more powerful and famous than you they are. Sometimes people are just busy, though, and don’t have the time or interest, particularly if they’re not really getting anything out of the arrangement, which is completely understandable.

It feels wrong to ask a favor of someone before I’ve done a favor for them, but that’s what you have to do unless you have friends who would make good blurb candidates. I’m fortunate that I have made friends with many published authors due to my experiences with my first book, Half-Assed. Unfortunately, none of the authors I know have written books relevant to headaches or pain. So, as much as I love my published friends and think they’re awesome, asking them for blurbs didn’t make much sense. Instead, I mainly had to contact people I didn’t already know.

Blurbs need to be collected before the book goes to press, but after the author has turned in an accepted manuscript and/or the galleys have been printed. So there’s a window of 2-3 months when you’re soliciting blurbs. My editor and I put together a big list of potential blurb-ers at the beginning of September. I divided the list into sections:

  • Total dream people that will never happen. (Hello, Oprah!)
  • Slim but not totally non-existent chance
  • Maybe blurb
  • Likely to blurb

We sent out emails and letters to these people, and the ones who were interested received galleys. Then you just cross your fingers, wait, and occasionally nag in the nicest way possible.

So, here we are, about two and a half months away from the publication date, and we’ve collected four fantastic blurbs from authors I admire. I thank them for the praise they gave the book and for taking the time out of their lives to read it. I got blurbs from:

You can read the blurbs for Chocolate & Vicodin here on the book site (which is still in progress). I’ve integrated my book sites with my identity site, JennetteFulda.com, which got a slight makeover last weekend. Be sure to subscribe the newsletter in the page footer if you’re interested in receiving news and event information about the book. If you were subscribed to my old mailing list, you should be subscribed to this one too, but you can check by trying to subscribe again. If you’re already on the list, the form will tell you. Thanks!

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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14 Comments

Ms. PJ Geek • December 9, 2010 at 10:23 am

I’m thinking tv show folks….Dr. Oz? The Doctors, The View, ( oh holy) Oprah. getting a kindle for christmas here and you are on my wish list.

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fd • December 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

wow, the book publishing and promotion sounds like really hard work. well done with it, it looks like you’re doing a brilliant job!

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Debbi Does Dinner Healthy • December 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I just read the blurbs. Weirdly suspenseful… Not sure if that woud make me run to the cash register. :-) I already bought the book and I can’t wait for it to come!

I admit, I never knew that about blurbs. I often read them though. Boy woudl I have been impressed if Oprah recommended it. Did you send a letter or email to Oprah? I’m sure she gets millions of them.

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Lanie • December 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Fascinating! I’m so happy for your success thus far and I know it’s going to multiply exponentially!

Forget that has-been Oprah. Ellen DeGeneres is where it’s at nowadays!

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Deanna - The Unnatural Mother • December 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm

NICE! Congrats!

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lee • December 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm

get dr. oz and the john lapook guy from the cbs evening news. the books will fly off the shelves.

or maybe you could get stephen king to give you one about how scary your headache was!

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fd • December 10, 2010 at 10:52 am

also, am amazed they are officially called blurbs! i’ve been calling them that for years but assumed it was a weird family name for them.

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Debby • December 10, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I think you should get a blurb from your Mom! :-)

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Mary Jean • December 10, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Oh. My. Gosh. I love the picture of you “smiling angelically in the grass.” I also bought the book and can’t wait for it to come. I was trying to figure out how long its been since I’ve been following your blog and then you wrote about the Vagina Monologue muffins being the most read entry. That was one of the first entries I read. I remember thinking, “this girl is so funny” and you haven’t done a thing to change my mind! I hope this book is successful enough that all the chat shows want to pay you big bucks to come and talk!

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PastaQueen • December 11, 2010 at 6:22 pm

@Mary Jean – Thanks for ordering the book! Glad you like the photo on my new site, too.

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BridgetJones • December 12, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Suggestion: Contact Augusten Burroughs, who wrote “Running with Scissors” and “Dry”. I think he’d get your humor, and he seems like a nice guy.

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PastaQueen • December 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Just a note, since people keep leaving suggestions — it’s too late at this point to get blurbs from anyone else. So, thanks for thinking of me, but there’s no need to brainstorm on this one.

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Samantha • December 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Looking forward to your latest book as well as we have the issues of migraines as well as weight in common. My longest migraine was six months so after reading about yours I felt lucky rather than cursed as I might have otherwise. Had another nasty two weeker recently….My Neurologist’s nurse practitioner told me on life we have often have choices and my choice might be to be overweight with migraines managed or be thin and have nonstop migraines…..she must not have cared for my well worded articulated response/rebuttal as my Neurologist himself called me at 7:45 am the next morning….. apparently I upset her, I ‘ve taught bio for 10 years, half of that at the college level….she picked the wrong fat migraine suffer to mess with, plus migraines make me cranky, maybe I’m just difficult( though if some nurse talking down to like a first grade teacher in her place and correcting her medically makes me difficult I’m ok with that…lol)
Sorry for the ramble but my basic point is if that is the kind of crap that we are being told by “experts” that sorry but most of the treatments will make you gain weight so live with or be in pain then clearly there needs to be more attention brought to the issue. I plan on pre-ording your book as Christmas presents for several friends.

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Chrissy • December 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I’ve been clicking through your book link to shop Amazon, and had to stop by to say how nice your photo is!

You look fantastic! Really nice photo, Jennette.

Merry Christmas!

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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