Friday, September 14, 2007

Seeking Cover Blurbs

A couple of years ago, a subscriber to my newsletter, Doing It Write, asked me this question:
Helen, what do you feel is the proper protocol for seeking cover blurbs from a big name author? I'm trying to do some of these myself in addition to the ones my publisher will be doing, so I'm curious. When writing to, let's say, John Grisham and you don't have his address but you do have his agent's address ... would it be proper to matter-of-factly tell the agent to forward the galley to the author? Or should you write the agent a cover agent begging him to do so and attempting to persuade him to do so? Should you add the additional postage that may be required? What are your thoughts?
I emailed him back and don’t think I ever even put my reply in the newsletter to share with others. But I stumbled upon the question recently and thought I’d update my answer and put it here:

Unless you know big-name authors, you'll most likely have to go through their agents. And it will be difficult to get to them since they get so many blurb requests.

I would write the agent and neither direct him/her to forward the ARC nor beg. Go inbetween. Tell them what you're looking for and why you are seeking so-and-so to give you a blurb. (A little flattery or ego-boosting goes a long way, but don't overdo it.) Look at it from the big-name’s viewpoint. What about your book would make him want to recommend it? Not just that you think it’s fabulous. Are you writing in the same genre and even the same sub-genre? Have you researched this author and you know this is the kind of book he likes to read? Did you go to high school with him? Don’t think just about what a great coup this would be for you to get his rec, but what benefit he gets out of it.

Here are a couple of other ideas on how to get to Mr. / Ms. Big Name Author:

Keep in mind the old seven degrees of separation, too. Talk to friends and fellow writers. They may be able to hook you up with someone else who can connect you to someone who can .... eventually get you to said author. Afraid of hurting feelings of your friends? Lay it on your agent -- he wants you to contact John Grisham. Or ... get your friend to do a blurb as well. They may not make the cover, but they might rate a page on the inside. And if their blurb doesn't get used? Apologize. They’ll most likely understand that you’re not always the one in control of what happens on your cover.

Have you been establishing a relationship with your local bookseller? If so, good. Those CRMs or those in your store who set up book events know people. When they bring in big or well-known authors, they work with the publicist. They maintain databases of authors and their publicists. But they're not going to give up info to just anyone.

And, finally, when seeking cover blurbs:

Don't overlook less well-known authors who are on the verge of breaking out. They have fewer people asking for a blurb and by the time your book comes out, they may be a household name.

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