So today I’m going to tell you how blurbing a book is like getting married.
I honestly never really gave any thoughts to book blurbs, back when I was a mere muggle reading and writing in the stacks. I didn’t even know what a blurb was. For the record, a blurb is that line that goes across the front of many books. It looks something like:
“This book literally blew my shirt off in a public place; it’s just that good.” - Maggie Stiefvater, NYT Bestselling Author of Shiver.
That is a blurb. Ostensibly, blurbs exist for a couple of reasons.
a) they make the my fans pick up the book
b) they make even people who haven’t heard of me assume that the book’s good because I have “NYT Bestselling” in front of my name so clearly I know what I’m talking about
(There are also other, less integrity-full reasons that authors blurb books. It’s not uncommon for authors to blurb a book because they know said book will do well and writing a blurb for it will put their name all over several thousand covers out there in the world, thus acting as marketing for the blurber. But I pretend this reason doesn’t exist.)
Anyway, I never really used blurbs to aid me in my book buying decisions. And I sure as snot never thought I’d be asked for them. But, amazingly, I am, because, amazingly, people think my name holds weight in the YA book buying world. This is a fantastic and terrifying idea, as my idea of a good book is still A HOLE IS TO DIG.
Still, asked I get, and I’ve read dozens of advanced review copies of books at various editors and authors’ requests. And I just . . . haven’t wanted to blurb them. And this is where the whole marriage thing comes in. I liked some of these books. I had a good time with them. Some of them I even loved parts of or even most of. Some of them I even thought for the first half that this was the one, this was the one I was going to blurb, just don’t let me down or stand me up or turn out to be Pearl Jam fan. But in the end, I didn’t love them. Not that way. Not like forever. Not like I was sure that ten years down the road when someone waved a copy in my face and said, “I hated this book. Why did you blurb it?” I would still be able to say that I loved it and explain why I had blurbed it.
So . . . I haven’t. I’ve only blurbed two books so far, both that I watched grow into adult novels from literary infancy. For the record, the books are THE REPLACEMENT, by Brenna Yovanoff ("I loved this eerie and beautiful story of ugly things. It should be read aloud after dark, at a whisper.") and BLOOD MAGIC, by Tessa Gratton (“Reading this book is like having The Bravery sing to you while you eat fresh brownies and puppies frolic around your feet. In other words, the best day ever. Buy it.”)(okay, not really. Final blurb wording TO COME).
Why am I even talking about this? Because I have found another book to blurb! I just had a copy of STOLEN by Lucy Christopher put into my hands at ALA, and I was very cheerful to offer a quote for the paperback edition. It’s a YA novel about a girl who is kidnapped from an airport by a crazy guy and taken to a shack in the Australian outback. The novel features
1) crazy guy
3) strong heroine
4) poisonous snakes! (did you know that Australia is the only continent where species of poisonous snakes outnumbers non-poisonous ones?)
7) psychological terror and thrillingness!
8) vehicular chases
9) did I mention crazy guy?
10) a supporting cast of chickens
It’s got a great sense of place and the character development is just fantastic (I love me some trauma), but the thing I liked best was that as Gemma, the main character, spends more time in the presence of her kidnapper, the author very, very, very skillfully messes with our brains just like Gemma’s brain is getting messed with. It makes for a very complex read with no easy answers, just like I like ‘em. I loved how all of the motivations were thoroughly grounded in past history; we get a profile of the kidnapper as a human, not just as a stick figure. As a teen, I would have adored this book even more. My only complaint? It reads a little long in places, but I think that may have been my deadlines speaking more than the book’s shortcoming. I know there will be many that say that this isn't how most kidnappings go down and tell you to go read LIVING DEAD GIRL instead, but I don't believe that books need to tell the most common story -- just the one most interesting to the author. Highly recommended!
Anyway. I’m working on my blurb. I’m thinking something like “The only thing that would’ve made this book better is a crocodile attack and some brownie batter during the denouement.”