Requesting a blurb

March 13th 2014

Yesterday I wrote a blurb request email to an admired author. Next to writing a query letter and synopsis (and my novel), it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. For some reason, all my decades-worth of writing experience flew out the window when I had to sit down and articulate why I wanted this particular person to read my novel and offer a brief comment on it. And it’s not like I didn’t have anything to say. But at first it sounded like this….

I loved your debut novel and the ghost and the romance and I felt this connection to my own work which also has this impossible romance between a girl and a ghost, oh and did I mention my book is also set in the past, in the 1990s, and I loved your historical setting and it was so creepy and I just think you’re amazing and I hope to write another novel with the same tone and mood and and and…gibberish.

For me, authors are celebrities, except with their shit together. Whenever I’m at a book signing, I find myself gushing and sounding ridiculous. With this particular blurb request, I needed to make sure I came across as professional and sincere and sane. I wanted the author to truly understand how much her work meant to me and how much I enjoyed reading her novel. Also, I consider our books to have many similarities. Enough to be on the If-you-liked-this-you-might-also-like-this list. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect author to blurb my book. I can only hope she agrees. From what I’ve read, authors are flattered to be asked for a blurb request. After all, they all started out as unknowns. And while the blurb request does nothing for them professionally, authors are happy to help out fledgling writers. We’re good people that way.

I couldn’t find any templates online for writing a blurb request and I stumbled on the order in which to organize my letter. Do I introduce myself in the first paragraph with a ..”I’m Kimberly Giarratano and I’m a YA author..”? Do I just lead right into gushing? Unlike a query letter that has a common structure, the blurb request email seems to have no identifiable protocol. I think if you include all the important elements and they flow nicely, you’ll be okay.

(Check out this guest blog post on requesting blurbs, written by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. It’s on Nathan Bransford’s blog and was written in 2009. I found it incredibly helpful.) The following are some tips for writing a blurb request.

  • Follow proper procedure when submitting a blurb request. In my case, the author’s website specifically said all blurb requests had to be emailed to the author’s agent. Not the author directly. Good to know and easy to do.
  • Make sure you have good reason to request a blurb from this particular author. Are your books in the same genre? Do you have a shared audience? Do you admire the author’s career?
  • In your request, cite specific reasons why you loved their last novel or their collection of work. Was there a specific character that stayed with you? Did you love the setting? What themes resonated? Etc, etc.
  • Don’t forget to briefly summarize your own novel (I almost did).
  • Include your publisher and publication date.
  • And ask them how they would like to receive your book, ie Word Doc, ebook, galley. (I didn’t do this. I decided to wait for a reply first before presuming they’d want the novel right off the bat. Not sure on etiquette for this.)

I emailed my blurb request yesterday and got an ‘out of office’ reply. I’ll just be hanging tight in the meantime. But I’ll keep you all apprised of what happens.

I can’t end this post without a big thank you and shout-out to my dear friend/editor/YA-expert-on-retainer, Jill, who helped me edit my letter. She has a wicked eye for comma misplacement and word choice.

Has anyone ever written a blurb request? What was the outcome?

Do you have any suggestions for authors struggling to write one? Please, feel free to sound off in the comments below.

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3 comments on “Requesting a blurb

  1. Jill

    Woohoo! I love working with Kim. And not just because she says such nice things about me. 🙂 We make a great team!

    D’you think it would be helpful to other folks to post an outline of the format you eventually decided on? That way others can have exactly the sort of resource that we couldn’t find. I love piggybacking knowledge like this – it makes everyone’s work stronger.

    p.s. You’re probably right that blurbing a new author’s work does nothing for an established author’s professional attainment… *immediately.* But If the author they blurb for turns out to become even more famous than they are, they’ve gotten in on the ground floor of something special. (And even if they don’t, then like you say, they’re still helping out a fellow writer.) Blurbing can be an investment in the future in lots of different ways.

  2. Jenni Enzor

    Ooh, I found this really interesting to read about. I’m not yet at the point of asking for blurbs, but I know what you mean about being gushy. Every time I meet an author I admire in person, I’m afraid I come off that way.
    Great post! I will bookmark this for future reference.

    1. Kimberly G. Giarratano Post author

      Thanks. Unfortunately, the author wasn’t able to commit to blurbing my book. She sent me a lovely email. I knew it was a longshot. Authors are so busy writing and reading, and some work full time. But it was a good lesson and now I know how to do this for the future.

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