The Getting of Blurbs

If there’s an icky part about getting a book published it’s asking people for blurbs. Not just any people, but writers of note, because as a website called Selling Books puts it, “for an unknown author, such endorsements are essential for compelling readers to take a chance on someone they’ve never read before.”

Asking for a blurb is asking for a writer’s time, and that’s a lot to ask.

I’ve attended quite a few writers’ conferences and taken workshops with a number of well-established and widely known writers. But is a week-long workshop basis enough to ask your famous workshop leader for a blurb, particularly if years have passed since the workshop took place? Can you really expect them to remember you?

I tend to be on the quiet side and am more than happy to blend into the wallpaper, the potted ferns or whatever backdrop is handy. I’m never the first in line for anything except the buffet table, and I’ll always take the back seat in the car. I’m an under-the-radar kind of person and have a sense that I’m not especially noticed and not likely to be remembered.

It’s a perception left over from my high school days. I’ve been pretty convinced over the years that only ten people knew who I was in high school. But with the ubiquity of Facebook users and my forty-year high school reunion on the horizon, I have lately received a few friend requests from former classmates. Establishing these connections has delighted me, despite the fact that I exchanged few, if any, syllables with them back in the day. I take credit for that as I was quite busy being socially inept and paralyzingly self-conscious.

Though I’ve moved on and am able to walk into a room without fear (okay, with just a little fear) of saying or doing something ridiculous, my natural timidity asserts itself whenever I have to ask for something—like a blurb for my book, say.

I drafted emails which sat in my computer for a week until I got the nerve to actually hit the send button, wincing at my audacity, cringing at the prospect of rejection. I sent requests to nine writers (my publisher sent a request to one other). While two of the writers never responded, the others did and did so quite promptly. One declined, but was wonderfully gracious about it and wished me success with the book. Another could not guarantee she could meet my deadline. She was on tour promoting her own book at the time. But again, she was very kind in her response. The others though said yes, and had I been capable, I would’ve celebrated with back flips. For joy, relief, and appreciation.

Deficient in gymnastic flourishes, I offer a simple, heartfelt thank-you to them.