Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Best Book Ever" Says Mother of Author

I used to have a silly fantasy about getting a cool cover quote from a really famous author that read, "Doesn't suck," Stephen King, author of LATEST NOVEL and "Couldn't get enough of it! By far the best book in the entire world," Rita Hallaway, Mother of Author. But, you know, my sense of humor doesn't sell books....

My question is: do cover quotes?

I will admit that sometimes a good cover quote will help put a book over the top for me. However, I've usually gotten pretty far with a book if I'm reading the cover quotes. I already have in my hand either because the title or the cover intrigued me or the book was shelved under "managers' hard SF picks!" or someone --usually my partner -- handed me the book and said, "Check this out."

I'm also on the look out for what I call "suspect" blurbs. You know the ones that don't really say anything or say things that could be construed as a subtle slam, ala (and this a real quote I found once) "No one writes quite like [blank]." My partner who read the book in question later said she figured what famous author must have meant was "No one writes quite as badly as [blank]." I'm also nervous of any quote that has too many ellipses, ala "This book... number one... fabulous!" Makes you wonder if the original read "This book [is no where near] number one; [it's so bad that I wonder why anyone would call it] fabulous!"

Yet, my editor gets really excited about cover quotes. I met MaryJanice Davidson (author of UNDEAD AND UNWED) at MBA, a booksellers' trade show and introduced myself as a fellow Berkley author with a new vampire book coming out. I asked her if it would be okay for my editor to send her my book for potential blurb. When I told my editor, she was thrilled -- and doubly so when a very positive quote came back. My editor also updated me weekly with the various paranormal romance superstars that agreed to blurb me. Clearly, for her, getting these kinds of quotes was extremely important to the selling of my book.

Personally, I'm a bit unconvinced, if only because people have used *me* to sell books. I read and blurbed a great book called WISH CLUB by Kim Strickland. But, given how new I am to the romance field, who on earth thinks anything I might say about a book would help sell it?

And what about that? Do you ever get turned off a book because you've never read the author who blurbed the book (or find out that the quote comes from a writing spouse)?


Kelly McCullough said...

I read them but pretty much ignore them in my buying decisions since I've found that what authors I like like and what I like are pretty much unrelated quantities.

debraji said...

When I'm wavering over a book purchase, the blurbs can sway me one way or the other. If a certain constellation of authors praise a book, it's likely the book won't be to my taste. If my favorite authors are enthusiastic, I'll give it a try.

Ashtal said...

The only time a cover quote has ever sold me on a novel was one from George R.R. Martin praising Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora.

He wasn't wrong, either.

I've had too many authors I do like endorse books I ended up not liking, so I usually take such endorsements with a grain of salt.

Kelly Swails said...

Before I became embroiled in the industry, blurbs would put me over the edge. I wouldn't buy a book just because of the blurb, you know, but if I was wavering and the blurb was awesome, then yeah. Now, I just find blurbs interesting ... it's less "Oh, so-and-so thinks X book is good" and more "Oh, so-and-so and author Z are friends."

Kelly McCullough said...

X, nice take.

Debraji, ashtal, thanks for commenting and welcome to wyrdsmiths*:-) I hope you find things interesting

*I don't think I've seen you around before, but then I'm terrible with names.

Anonymous said...

I've been out of town, so now I'm playing catch-up. ;)

I pretty much ignore cover blurbs. If an author I know has something new coming out, chances are we've discussed it to death on the various boards and I have it on pre-order (either at Shocklines or through my favorite bookstore), regardless of who has or who hasn't blurbed. If it's someone I'm unfamiliar with, like when I first found WebMage ;), I look the cover over, read the "about the author", read the first few pages, then flip to the middle and see what I find there. Nine times out of ten, if a book interests me enough to flip to the middle, it goes home with me - blurbs or no blurbs.

Muneraven said...

Ah, cover blurbs. I DO read them. In order to influence whether or not I reach for my wallet, though, a blurb has to either:

1. Be by an author I respect who has proven to have reading tastes similar to mine, OR

2. Be VERY specific in content so that I am hooked by a particular aspect of the book that pings one of my idiosyncratic interests.

So in other words, if George rr Martin blurbs a book I sit up and take notice, since I know he likes Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, and Lynn Flewelling. And if a blurb points out something in a book that is often a hook for me, like a certain location (Alaska, Hawaii, Seattle, etc.), or a certain TYPE (pirate, vampire, lesbian, etc.) then I will give the book every chance in the world to say "BUY ME!"

But blurbs by just anyone, even a famous anyone, don't do a thing for me. Oprah doesn't sell me books. :-P