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View Full Version : Blurbs and favorite authors - a disappointment



Williebee
01-12-2011, 07:01 AM
Yesterday I read a book by a guy I'd never heard of.

It was in a genre I like. The back cover sounded kind of interesting. But what sold me the book was a blurb from an author I really like. The author says it is a great story, and the author has his kind of a sense of humor. Well, THAT author's sense of humor is one of the main reasons I buy all his books. I'm in!

Sucked isn't the right word, but it is really close. It was disappointing on a number of levels. Primarily because it wasn't funny. Didn't have the same sense of humor, not even close. The plot was swiss cheese, with more holes than cheese, the author is sophomorically homophobic. (The protagonist certainly was.) And the main positive ethical trait of the hero, the one he repeatedly says is the line he CANNOT cross, he cheerfully drops by the wayside at the end.

24 hours have passed. I'm still irritated (no, really? We couldn't tell).

Twice now I've started to send an email to the author I love, the one who, by his blurb, recommended this book to me. Just to express how disappointed I am.

But some, probably better, part of my head says no. It was just business.

Thus, the above screed, and the question: Is a blurb, to you, "just business"?

Thanks.

Smish
01-12-2011, 07:24 AM
This has happened to me, too. But I have no reason to believe that the author providing the blurb was being insincere.

There's also a member here at AW who likes the same sorts of books as me, so we give each other recommendations frequently. I'd never read a book she recommended that I didn't enjoy as well... until a month ago. Out of a dozen or so books she's recommended, there was one that I hated.

So, isn't it possible that this author simply enjoyed a novel that you didn't?

AiryBri
01-12-2011, 07:29 AM
There were these books I used to read when I was younger I absolutely loved the first time around. Reading them now I can see a lot more issues with them, but I stilllll love them. No one I know really agrees.

Maybe he just had a bias like that towards the book?

Williebee
01-12-2011, 08:22 AM
So, isn't it possible that this author simply enjoyed a novel that you didn't?

Hey lady! I'm ranting over here. :)

Sure, it's possible. But I thought he knew me so well. *sniff*

Smish
01-12-2011, 08:27 AM
Hey lady! I'm ranting over here. :)

Sure, it's possible. But I thought he knew me so well. *sniff*

Awwww. It's hard when we discover faults in those we love, but I'm sure the two of you can work this out. :Hug2:

KTC
01-12-2011, 04:07 PM
I don't even read the blurbs about a book. It doesn't matter if my favourite author wrote a blurb on the cover, I don't read it. I do, however, make my decision on far less...I do allow myself to buy a book based solely on my attraction to the cover design. A book has to attract me by its own words or pretty pictures. I don't care what somebody else thought about it.

I should explain that last sentence---I don't care what the blurbs on the cover say about it. I do listen to friends when it comes to recommendations.

wrtaway
01-12-2011, 04:31 PM
Ditto KTC's strategy. I've been burned too many times by "trusting" a blurb. I think that blurbs are too often just a marketing ploy, rather than a sincere endorsement.

C.H. Valentino
01-12-2011, 04:31 PM
Hey lady! I'm ranting over here.

Yeah? This one time, this guy that I know sent me a book with a really compelling plot and characters that I fell in love with, and he walked me right up to the edge of the climax and then... he quit. I still don't know what happens.

How about you STFU and go write? Yeah, how 'bout that?

Momento Mori
01-12-2011, 04:35 PM
I've only once bought a book based on blurb from an author I liked and then found I didn't really enjoy the book and haven't done it again.

I don't doubt that the majority of people who blurb other people's books are sincere in their comments. However (and speaking as a YA reader) what I've found is that a lot of authors who blurb each others work are friends or know each other in real life and if you read the acknowledgements page, they'll often get a nod for their help and encouragement from the novel's author. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, but it does usually raise questions in my mind as to whether that friendship has coloured their view of the book in much the same way as it's difficult for your friends to be unsupportive of your manuscript if you ask them to beta it.

All this is moot though given that at the end of the day, blurbs are used as a marketing thing. Having a NYT bestselling author say your book is the best thing since sliced bread certainly won't hurt sales because their fans are more likely to check your book out.

FWIW, I do know a number of YA authors who have books sent to them that they decline to blurb because they didn't enjoy them. It all comes down to personal preferences.



MM

Terie
01-12-2011, 04:52 PM
I have a favourite author whose taste in reading is very different from my own. Some of the books she blurbs are great, and others don't ring my bell at all. So even though I buy HER books in hardback on release day, I don't give much weight to books she blurbs.

Mr Flibble
01-12-2011, 05:07 PM
I got burnt that way once (Curse you China Meiville for blurbing that pile of pants!)

That's why I ignore blurbs these days.

seun
01-12-2011, 05:24 PM
I don't pay too much attention to the blurbs. To be honest, if I see a load of people telling me how great the book is, I'm more often put off. I want the story and characters to sell it to me, not a bunch of people I don't know.

Calla Lily
01-12-2011, 05:41 PM
When I see a book with blurb by a famous author, the only thing I think is: "Good for that writer! He scored a great blurber!" And I ignore the blurb.

This is bad of me, I think, because I know how hard it is to get blurbs from the big guns.

One of my favorite authors writes Christian historical fiction. I would never read anything she blurbs because I hate 99% of Christian fic. (Too sweet for me.) Yet I love her books. It's an anomaly. :)

Jamesaritchie
01-12-2011, 07:14 PM
The writer who wrote the blurb may well have loved teh book. Tastes differ. When I look at th ereading lists of writers I love, I often find many books on it that I didn't like at all.

I never buy a book based on the blurb, or on reviews, anyway, simply because tastes differ.

ChaosTitan
01-12-2011, 07:16 PM
As a reader, I pay attention to who blurbs what, but those blurbs rarely inform my purchasing decision. I may love a particular author's work, but that doesn't mean I'm going to love all of the same books s/he does. Even blurbs are subjective.

Blurbing is part of the business, but authors aren't required to provide blurbs for other authors. Some authors are too busy, or their agent/editor fields and rejects blurb requests for them. It's often done as a professional courtesy (plus we get to read new books months and months in advance).

As an author, I've been asked to blurb twice. Both times I genuinely enjoyed the book, so saying positive things was easy. Does this mean fans of my work should expect to love and enjoy those books, too? Not at all. But I do hope they at least give the books a try.

Susan Littlefield
01-12-2011, 07:33 PM
I don't pay any attention to the blurbs when it comes to purchase, but they are fun to read sometimes.

Snowstorm
01-12-2011, 07:47 PM
I glance through them to see who contributed, but I take no stock in them.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-12-2011, 09:48 PM
It happens. I usually agree with Stephen King, but this one time......blech! No hard feelin's, though.

quicklime
01-12-2011, 09:59 PM
Triple KTC; blurbs can be business, personal favors, or simply reject differing tastes. IIRS, I've seen blurbs by King and Koontz in Laymon books; the three write so different it isn't funny, other than they all do horror. All they'd need to do is get Straub to blurb it too and they'd be at 4 corners, practically.

Kate Thornton
01-12-2011, 10:12 PM
I was fortunate that the two people I asked for blurbs for my book - both mystery writers whose work I really like - agreed to do it. But they wanted to read the book first (go figure!) and if I used their blurbs, I had to use the in their entirety.

Of course I agreed. I really didn't know what they would say because I really didn't know if they liked my work.

But they both did and I was very pleased with the quotes. You gotta have *something* on the back cover besides a picture of a weird old lady, after all...


...

Calla Lily
01-13-2011, 12:00 AM
The mystery writer (reasonably well known) who was going to blurb me didn't, because real life got in the way. Hey; stuff happens. fortunately PW loved the book and part of their review landed on the back cover. *whew*

AlexPiper
01-13-2011, 12:00 AM
Ditto KTC's strategy. I've been burned too many times by "trusting" a blurb.

I will trust blurbs by certain authors. Specifically ones who I know, personally, as friends. In such a case, I will treat the blurb much as I would a book recommendation from a friend. (Mind you, in most cases where the blurber felt strongly about the book they blurbed, they've also already recommended the book directly to their friends ANYWAY.)

Bartholomew
01-13-2011, 02:16 AM
Yesterday I read a book by a guy I'd never heard of.

It was in a genre I like. The back cover sounded kind of interesting. But what sold me the book was a blurb from an author I really like. The author says it is a great story, and the author has his kind of a sense of humor. Well, THAT author's sense of humor is one of the main reasons I buy all his books. I'm in!

Sucked isn't the right word, but it is really close. It was disappointing on a number of levels. Primarily because it wasn't funny. Didn't have the same sense of humor, not even close. The plot was swiss cheese, with more holes than cheese, the author is sophomorically homophobic. (The protagonist certainly was.) And the main positive ethical trait of the hero, the one he repeatedly says is the line he CANNOT cross, he cheerfully drops by the wayside at the end.

24 hours have passed. I'm still irritated (no, really? We couldn't tell).

Twice now I've started to send an email to the author I love, the one who, by his blurb, recommended this book to me. Just to express how disappointed I am.

But some, probably better, part of my head says no. It was just business.

Thus, the above screed, and the question: Is a blurb, to you, "just business"?

Thanks.

Send the e-mail. Help this not happen again.

Taking the OP at his word about the plot holes & other craft-related problems, there doesn't seem to be a taste issue here.

CheshireCat
01-13-2011, 02:56 AM
Don't send that email. Please.

Look, as one who has been asked to blurb both strangers and friends, and has, and as one who knows lots of other writers who provide blurbs, let me just say that, generally speaking, they're sincere. I've never made up a blurb for a book I didn't actually read, and I've never lied.

That said, I've also read books that I liked -- then went back and reread them later and wondered why. Must have been my mood of the moment. :Shrug: I didn't deliberately set out to deceive any reader or potential reader, I just had a positive reaction to that book on that particular day.

I've also received irate emails from readers yelling at me for "recommending" books they bought and subsequently disliked. Or actively hated.

Well ... sorry about that. But if you base your book-buying on the opinion of someone you don't know (and you don't know me, despite however many of my books you've read), then that's your problem.

Seriously. A blurb, even assuming friendship between the authors, tends to be simply that person's reaction to the book on a given day. Period. I read lots of books totally unlike those I write. And I bet if I praised some writer for sharing my sense of humor, or developing characters the same way, or whatever, plenty of my readers would frown in bewilderment.

You don't know me. And unless I say, in a blurb, "This author writes EXACTLY LIKE I DO!" -- which you will never see, then it isn't really fair to blame me for my opinion.

Rant all you want. I get it. I personally hate all the HUGE positive quotes for movies which, if you hit the pause button on your DVR quickly, you realize come from some obscure magazine or website you don't even recognize. And I dislike the practice of using elipses before and after a few positive words in what was originally a blistering condemnation.

Those interested in the outcome will do whatever they can to persuade you to buy that ticket or that DVD, and the same thing goes for publishing.

But don't blame me if I liked a book and you didn't. Don't think of a blurb as a recommendation, think of it as an opinion.

You'll probably be burned a lot less often that way.

Williebee
01-13-2011, 03:54 AM
Don't think of a blurb as a recommendation, think of it as an opinion.

Yup. And, as I said above. I'm just ranting here. This was the first time, in all these years of devouring books, that this has happened. It threw me.



How about you STFU and go write? Yeah, how 'bout that?

What she said. (A word to the wise folks. If you are going to go hunting a muse? Find one with a whip. Mz. Valentino is awesome.) :)

Karen Junker
01-13-2011, 04:37 AM
I don't buy or read books based on blurbs. I only buy books that are signed first editions by people who have been guest intructors at my writers' workshops or whose work I've discovered because they post on AW. The only exception is Joanna Bourne, whose work I read because she got a stellar review on Smart Bitches. I now buy all her books. She also posts here and I may have discovered her that way, too.

I'm sorry your reading experience wasn't satisfying. :)

Darzian
01-13-2011, 05:13 AM
The number of times I've seen:

...best work of fiction since the time of Tolkien...

is ridiculous. I don't know about the sincerity of the reviewers (neither do I really care). I don't ever base my decision to buy a book based on that. As CC said, it's really a matter of preference.

Not aimed at the OP or anything- your initial post was a rant, but the discussion following is interesting ;)

VP_Benni
01-13-2011, 08:00 AM
One thing that I thought when I read this was simple: people have different tastes in books.
And some people have broader tastes than others.
Maybe the author enjoyed reading the book, the blurb could be truthful. But just because the author likes something doesn't mean you will.
I've read books that my best friend doesn't like that I absolutely love.
Don't blame them, it just wasn't a good book for you. :)

~Amber~

AlishaS
01-13-2011, 08:35 AM
I never really look at blurbs, or reviews by other authors. It certainly doesn't effect my buying decision, however, when I get published, I totally want awesome authors to rave about my book lol.

But it really comes down to different tastes and that's it.

Phaeal
01-14-2011, 01:49 AM
I have a sense that writers asked to supply a blurb are going in with the mindset of finding something positive to say. That could make a difference in their perception of the book. If you add friendship to the mix, that could add another layer of rose coloration to the reading glasses.

Also, if a writer supplies a negative blurb, that baby doesn't stand a chance of getting on the back cover.

But, anyway. I don't buy on the basis of blurbs. A flaming great blurb from someone I respect? That could make the difference between me immediately reshelving the book and going on to read the first few pages.

kaitie
01-15-2011, 09:43 AM
I've thought the same thing as Phael. I'm sure there are plenty of writers who will not blurb something they dislike (or found mediocre), I'm sure there are plenty who will also look for something nice to say. I'm more likely to assume the latter, which is unfair, but it seems like the majority of people I've met in life will...embellish their opinions of something to keep the peace or gain whatever they gain from it. Not even necessarily lying, but pointing out something good, even if it was the only good thing they had to say about it. Granted, I'd also assume that there are good professional reasons not to do this as an author--namely if you keep recommending books that suck, people might think less of your opinion, though I don't know that it really matters that much.

Personally, I don't buy based on blurbs. They go into the same category for me as those little review quotes put on books or movies. I realized pretty early on that a movie that says, "Stunning" might be from a quote that says, "While the graphics are stunning, that's the only good thing about this movie." Or worse, the original quote might sarcastically say something like, "I walked into this movie thinking it would be a top contender for movie of the year, but after seeing it, I realize the only list it might end up on is worst movie of the year." Then the quote on the trailer says "Movie of the year!"

In other words, I'm skeptical. ;)

Day O'
01-18-2011, 07:14 AM
I rarely pay attention to blurbs, but strangely an author whose work I can't stand always gives great blurbs to one of my favorites.

shaldna
01-18-2011, 03:37 PM
I find I go the other way and I will avoid reading books blurbed by authors I don't like.

Jamesaritchie
01-18-2011, 07:10 PM
The number of times I've seen:

...best work of fiction since the time of Tolkien...

is ridiculous. I don't know about the sincerity of the reviewers (neither do I really care). I don't ever base my decision to buy a book based on that. As CC said, it's really a matter of preference.

Not aimed at the OP or anything- your initial post was a rant, but the discussion following is interesting ;)

Seeing an ellipsis on the left side of a quote always makes me cautious. The reviewer might actually say, "This is not exactly the best work of fiction since the time of Tolkien, in fact, it sucks."

The publisher doesn't change any words, but simply cuts the review in the right place, and it becomes ...best work of fiction since the time of Tolkien...

Day O'
01-20-2011, 03:09 AM
I find I go the other way and I will avoid reading books blurbed by authors I don't like.

Yes me too. That's why I found it odd. I didn't notice the blurb until the second book.