Saturday, July 17, 2010

Aaaaauugh! it's the Blob Blurb!

So, my first book, God in my Throat: The Lilith Poems, was unblurbed. On the back it's just a pic of (a much thinner) me and my bio. Easy-peasy. The only thing I worried about was making sure I caught everything in the galleys, and then promoting the hell out of her.

This go-round, I asked my editor if he'd like for me to beat the bushes for some blurbs for These Terrible Sacraments. He enthusiastically replied yes, and that he could put my "About the Author" bio and pic inside the book at the end. It sounded like a grand idea at the time.

And now here I am realizing that I haven't the foggiest idea how to go about begging a blurb. Because I really think what I am asking for is for a well-known poet that i admire to read the manuscript, and *then* if they like it, if they wouldn't mind saying so in a short quote. I feel very foolish, having just sent out my first "I really admired your books X and Y, and used them in a lecture I gave on Z. I was wondering, since you are someone whose work I admire greatly, if you would have the time to read my forthcoming manuscript. I very much hope you'll enjoy it, and I would appreciate your time."

And there are poets I know well who I have workshopped or otherwise known well - should blurbs be only from folks who don't know you personally? I don't know. I do hope that if I gave my manuscript to someone that they'd be honest no matter how I knew them and just say "No, thank you, no comment" if they didn't adore the book and want their name on it. I know it's not personal - there are a lot of writers I like a lot whose writing I'm not enamored of, and your name in print is a funny thing. It's awfully permanent. I want whomever is willing to blurb me to be proud to have their name on the jacket.

I should have kept my mouth shut and just left my author info on the back of the book. Pppfffflllllbbt.


Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

No, they shouldn't only be form people you don't know. In a country of relatively small population like Australia, it's hard not to know a lot of the other poets, and frankly I feel more comfortable asking a favour from someone I'm at least acquainted with.

But if your publisher did it for you, they would approach the biggest names they could think of, regardless of whether anyone concerned actually knew each other. So either way is fine.

And in either case they might say no for any number of reasons. If it was because they despised your work, they'd probably be too polite to say so — but it's most unlikely that would be the case.

If I was a bigger name myself, I'd be happy to offer you a blurb. I'm sure other poets would only feel complimented by being asked.

Colleen said...

Rosemary - thanks for the note (and the offer)! I've decided to go ahead and ask the poets I most admire, whether I know them or not, figuring, as you said, that (hopefully) they are regular people and won't be offended by the asking. I hope that if one day I'm an Established Poet of Means that I'd still be as excited as I am today to know that folks read & enjoy my work. I'm hoping they'll graciously let me send them the manuscript - anything after that I understand is no guarantee. And so now I am in cheeky monkey mode, writing letters to poets whose names are already carved in the stone of the canon :)