I was recently thinking about blurbs following a discussion I had about so-called "Blurb Whores". The term, in case you have not heard of it, refers to an author or reviewer who gives too many "positive" endorsements of books, movies, etc.
I have heard about a number of authors who were referred to as Blurb Whores, but rarely publicly. (Often that is because the people labeling the author as such are hoping for a blurb of their own from the author in question.)
I have several hundred books on my shelves and the one constant is that almost every single one has a cover blurb. The majority of these are from famous authors. After all if given a choice between getting a blurb from unknown author A and, say, Lee Child, the choice is pretty obvious.
But let's look at this from the Blurber standpoint. If you are a well-known author, you can get as many as a few hundred requests for blurbs a day from authors you don't know from Adam.
And few of these authors who have a reputation for being supportive of other authors and will offer blurbs for as many as a fifty books a year. But does that make them a whore?
I say No.
Some people say that having your name on as many covers as possible will help the blurbing authors sales. But I find that hard to believe since if you don't know and respect James Patterson for example, then a blurb from him is meaningless. And if you know and respect him, you would already have his books.
(On a side note, I always think it is tragic when author sees everything as an opportunity to promote themselves.)
One ugly dis-incentive for a blurbing author is that other authors, publicists and publishers will send him/her boxes and boxes of books. Imagine getting your mail and finding twenty to fifty parcels five days a week. I have enough trouble with the ten to twenty packages we get a month.
Here is a true story, an author I know was trying to cut back on the number of blurbs she did. She believed in supporting other authors, but it was cutting into her writing time. So she politely refused a few. Some of these same people who wrote the nicest emails asking for blurbs, relied with belligerent emails attacking the author and calling her a blurb whore. One actually said they were entitled to a blurb.
Who wouldn't want their name endorsing a book by someone like that?
Now some authors refuse to blurb anyone but their friends. That is the fastest way to make a blurb worthless in my mind. Telling the world that best writers in the world are also your friends is beyond ridiculous. These kind of blurbs are in my mind the reason why so many readers I am aware of are wary of the validity of blurbs. There must be some honesty in it.
Personally, I have only picked up three books because of a blurb on the front or back cover. But blurbs are still an important part of the industry. Few books I see have no blurbs on them and when they don't, it makes me wonder why. It is almost expected to have at least one blurb.
So I guess the conclusion would be what makes someone a blurb whore? Well, a whore does it for something other than love.
So you can draw your own conclusions...