Getting a blurb is basically a testimonial. A testimonial of someone that other people already know, love or read. But how do you get that blurb and once you get it, how do you use in to increase your marketing?
Using Your Book Blurb To Increase Sales
So, you’ve created a novel, and now you’re wondering how to get it published or marketed. A key step in the long process of marketing your book to potential buyers is finding and securing clear and attractive blurbs. A book blurb is a short, concise reaction to your work written by an outside source that will tell readers why they should love your work. Come on, you know what they are! They are what you tell your friend at lunch when she asks what you’re reading – you are just looking for something a bit more polished.
If you’re a new writer on the scene with no previous publications, getting a well-known writer or publishing house to gush how blown away they were with your work can give you the credibility you need to make your first sale. If you can get a well-known author from your sub-genre to write you a blurb, all the better. Imagine you're a bibliophile browsing the Amazon new releases section. Your favorite author hasn’t written a new work in months, but then, you see a new publisher and description contains a blurb by your favorite author: “A life changing story everyone must read!” Studies have shown that small blurbs such as this can be enough to get key customers to click “buy” on a new author they’re never heard of before.
Getting the Blurb and Making it Count
Blurbs can be written by a range of sources, just take a look at the front cover of any bestselling novel: peers, celebrities, media personalities, and members of the literary scene have been used as blurbs. This wealth of options can be overwhelming for a new author, but the key is to stick to the two most meaningful places you can get your blurb from: authors or publishing houses.
Ideally, the most recognizable name in your subfield would be the most beneficial. If you are a romance writer aiming for fellow romance authors is a good start, but the more specific you can be, the better. For example, do you write sci-fi romance, historical romance, or young adult romance? Studies show that avid readers tend to look for new pieces in their favorite literary niche. If you don’t know your niche (shame on you!), take a few minutes and write down a few books that you believe most closely match your own, then look up these books and see how their authors describe their work. After doing this for a few minutes, you are guaranteed to get a few keywords that best describe your niche, and you’ll have already assembled a list of similar authors to contact!
Now that you’ve got your niche figures out, it’s time to start approaching authors and publishers for blurbs. Approaching someone you haven’t met in person for a favor may seem intimidating, but consider this: most of those in the publishing field are already getting appeals from other authors. Your request won’t seem too outlandish, and the worst that can happen is that they say no (or don’t respond) and you continue on sending appeals to others. You may have to send out a dozen requests to get a blurb so plan ahead!
After creating the list of people to contact for your blurb, you’re well on your way. The next step is to look for their contact information. Try to stick to more professional means of communication first. Most authors these days have social media, but…there may be a better way. In the mail on any given day I get junk mail (meh), bills (yuck), bank statements and almost never…a card. These are regularly sent by my card loving and paper crafting mom. Other than around Christmas time, getting ANYTHING in the mail (we’re talking real mail here – not Amazon packages) is pretty rare. So, an appeal for a blurb may be best received by physical mail. Not only will you stand out from the crowd but your request will most likely be read. Of course, you can always email or try DMs on their favorite social platform. But leave those DMs as a last resort. Look for email accounts or mailing address to send your letter to first.
Next, put all your tireless work to use. Remember to be respectful and courteous at all stages of this process. The first impression you make sets the stage for how they will receive your book. Make sure to write all of your communication in a professional tone and address each email directly to who you are sending it to. You don’t want your appeal to give off the impression that it is just copied and pasted and sent to a random recipient. Try to include why you are asking that person for a blurb. Is it because their work is similar in style to yours? If so, include a sentence about what commonalities you see between their work and your own.
With each appeal, be sure to include a sample or a full copy of your work. The format of your writing sample should match the format of your appeal. The goal is to make this process as convenient as possible for your reader. If they have to purchase the book themselves, wait too long, or if they have to jump through too many hoops to access the file, they will not be reading your book. And they won’t be writing a blurb. Guaranteed. So, if you are sending through email, attach a PDF copy of your document, and if you are sending it through the post office, a good rule of thumb is to include a physical copy of the book. With fingers crossed, hit SEND. And if you’ve followed our advice about mailing your requests, think about making at least part of your request hand written.
What to Write?
Something to the effect of:
My name is [your name], and I really enjoy your work. I’m actually write [genre] myself, and I recently read your book [author’s book title]. I really enjoyed [something about the book you really liked].
My book [book title] will be published soon which is also a [genre]. Would you consider reading my book and providing a blurb for me to use on the cover? I truly admire your work so much, and I would be so excited to feature you and your words on my book.
[Book title] is about [insert your elevator pitch here]. I think you’d enjoy it because [insert how it is similar to the author’s book].
Not to rush you, but I need the blurb by [date], so please let me know if you’d be willing to read and contribute a blurb. I really appreciate your time in reading my letter and possibly reading my book. Thanks so much for considering this!
Best, (or something more smoochy)
Make sure your letter is customized, proofread and with correct grammar before sending it out.
An essential part of this process is networking. Linking your social media as an email signature is a great way to build your network and market your brand as a writer (Hint: You should be doing this already). Follow those you contact on social media to keep up with them. Keep in mind, you don’t want to pester those in the writing community (it’s a small field and bad news travels twice as fast), but if you follow them and grow that connection, perhaps the next time you are ready to publish, you will have a few good allies in the field that would be willing to offer you a BETA read or a blurb on your finished piece.
The final step is to sit back and wait for the responses to come in. This requires quite a bit of patience. Remember, depending on the length of your work, it might take people a while to read it all, and they may be getting many requests just like yours.
It’s best to prepare yourself for rejection. Writing is a competitive field, and as mentioned, those you’re approaching, depending on how well-known they are in the community, can receive dozens of these requests just like yours every day.
Expect frequent rejection and keep going on. Rejection, in this case, can come in many forms. At best, they will not respond, at the worst, you may receive a short, curt email.
When you receive a rejection, don’t take it personally, and respond with grace. The best course of action is to thank them for their time and wish them well. Who knows, maybe the good impression you leave now will open doors for you down the road.
If you keep getting rejections, it might be time to reconsider your contact list. At this point, you would have already contacted the top writers and publishers in your subgenre. Next, look for less well-known names and start the process over again. Look for authors who might not be a household name but have a substantial following in subgenre, and then continue from there.
What To Do When You Get The Blurb
So, you’ve gotten the blurb after many, many rejections. What should you do next? First, keep a short file of all of the blurbs you’ve received. If you get too many responses, you may need to go through them and pick the ones that represent your writing the best. Then, you can start using the blurb to market your book in a few ways.
This is perhaps the most common way to use blurb. Pick the blurbs from the most well-known sources that you believe represent your book the best, and include those on your book’s dust cover or in the description you use on e-commerce sites.
Use the description as a way to showcase your blurbs.
You can use the quotes you’ve gotten back about your book to market it on social media. For example, create a graphic with the blurb and tag the author in it. You can use it in your header, posts, etc.
Click to tweet: Getting a Blurb for Your Book to Use in Marketing @entradabooks #publishing http://bit.ly/371uOaT
Click to tweet: Blurbs Help Sell Books. How Getting One Is Easier Than You Think. @entradabooks #publishing http://bit.ly/371uOaT
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