Discussion: Author blurbs

Okay, I’ll admit it. If Steven Erikson has a blurb on a cover of a book, I pretty much HAVE to read said book. I don’t even have to know what it’s about. If I see his name saying something is pure badass, some sort of compulsion is laid upon me that says, “must read book” over and over again until I read it. Not all books I’ve read based on author blurbs have been enjoyable, however. Like anything else, there have been good ones and bad ones. 
Am I alone with this, or are there others out there who have certain authors whose blurbs basically force them to read whatever said author is blurbing? If so, who is your author and have you always liked the books they’ve blurbed, or have there been disappointments? 

10 Responses

  • FantasyLass

    You know, I've never really thought about it to be honest…what a great question! I tend to implode with excitement if I see anything from Neil Gaiman..

  • Liviu

    Author blurbs are meaningless since they tend to be done on a favor/for favor basis (whether it involves the authors, their publishers, friends of friends, etc).

    Now if an author reviews a book, that's different of course because that implies the author reviewing it actually read it.

  • Bibliotropic

    Normally I've found that if Mercedes Lackey has a cover blurb, then I'm likely to enjoy the book. That's about the only consistent one I've found, though. Other authors have given their blurbs for some novels that just makes me go, "You liked this? Really? Were we reading the same book?" I've seen a few where Famous Author declares New Book to be something revolutionary and profound and fantastic that just leaves me cold and wondering how much Famous Author was paid to say that.

  • Bryan Thomas

    Author blurbs are not meaningless, Liviu. They are read as a favor, true, but if the author does not think the book deserves their endorsement, they won't give it. Their name going on the book is their reputation and that means something to them.

  • Weirdmage

    I don't think there's an author who I have agreed with on all the blurbs they have written. And I tend to ignore blurbs anyway. I usually buy books on either recommendations from bloggers/friends I trust or because of previous books I have read from the same author.

  • Heloise

    I don't base the decision whether I buy a book or not on blurbs, but if I notice that a book comes with a blurb by someone I appreciate I am certainly going to check it out to see whether I might like it or not – in short, a blurb's main function for me is as an attention catcher (and as such on the same level as a good cover art – I am aware it does not really say anything substantial about the book, but hey, might as well take a look…)

  • Fiona

    I usually start reading them if I'm bored with the book itself, or when I've finished. If I see an author I like recommending the book it might make me curious but not effect whether I read it or not.

    Diana Wynne Jones was a big friend of Neil Gaiman, and also wrote a blurb for Stardust I think, or no – American Gods I think. Me and him just don't gel. He just feels like a less imaginative version of DWJ, in my opinion.

    Blurb can put me off a book though… when it says it's the next "The Da Vinci Code" I'm pretty sure to put that down. I didn't hate hate that book but it wasn't at all that great so why'd I want to read one that was like it?

    Or they'll start comparing it to a really big classic – Lord of the Rings or whatever when it might be good, but no way does it share those sacred steps. I really don't like it when those blurbs start comparing it with every other book out there.

    If I see that one of the blurbs comes from the Daily Mail I am always slightly disappointed. The Daily Mail is an awful, dreadful, racist, bigoted, homophobic, sexist, ignorant newspaper full of hate that ever existed and anything that is associated with it I find my nose wrinkling.

    So all in all, blurbs do little to persuade me to read the book, and everything to dissuade me! Fortunately I rarely ever read them when checking a book out and only after I take them home.

    Unless of course there is nothing but blurbs pasted all over the front and back cover. Obviously this must mean the book is SO awesome that it doesn't even need a description so I can't tell what it's going to be about. Unfortunately in these situations I put the book back where I found it.

  • Jamie (Mithril Wisdom)

    I'm with FantasyLass; If Gaiman raves about it, then I assume that it's something special. Other than him I tend not to pay attention to the blurbs.

  • Robin Sullivan

    I guess I'm a little jaded in that I expect many of those blurbs come from the publisher pulling strings with others in their "stable". But…I know Stephen King only blurbs things he really likes so I'll take his word for it if he say something is really good.

    Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

  • Robin Sullivan

    @Bryan – I agree with you that they "should" care as their reputation is on the line – but many don't. It is pretty common for the "requester" to write the blurb and ask the person blurbing to approve it and they sometimes do without even reading the book.

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