Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Blurb Booboos

Today's special guest is Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. The Frugal Book Promoter is the winner of the USA Book News award and the coveted Irwin Award . Learn more about Carolyn including her fiction and poetry at www.howtodoitfrugally.com. And don’t forget to check out the Writers Resources pages on her Web site, too.

Book Blurb Booboos
Or Nine Ways To Avoid the No-Sales Book Blues

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Subscribers to my Sharing with Writers newsletter sometimes ask me questions for the "Q&A a la Ann Landers" section. One of my favorites was on blurbs (also called endorsements!). They are so important to the health of our books that I got excited anew!


Do you accumulate quotes as people mention your book?
How do you use them? 


Oh, how I love this topic. Until recently I didn’t ask for quotes from really famous authors, so I’m eager to keep new or emerging authors from making that same mistake. Also—even with a background in journalism and publicity—I didn't have any blurbs put on the back of my first novel because I thought my publisher would do that for me. They didn't! Those were my two biggest blurb booboos! And I made them because the book business is very different from industries that seem similar, industries that I have experience in like PR, journalism, and marketing.

Other than those two biggies here are some tips I’ve gleaned since my booboo days.

Keep positive comments (from any source). They can be about our expertise or about our books. In The Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo), I suggest that authors begin to keep folders that will eventually make up the innards of their media kits very early on. I tell how to do it in detail, but for the purpose of blurbs, you just need a folder titled BLURBS or PRAISE—and then remember to pop the quotes into it as they occur. That’s actually the hard part. It’s hard to remember to pay attention so we can identify positive comments that can be converted to blurbs. Hard to get up the courage to ask permission to use them.

Here’s how we can use blurbs:

1. Vary the blurb you use in your e-mail signature or the credit line of your freelance articles. (There is more on the importance of using e-mail signature and articles to promote in The Frugal Book Promoter, too!)
2. Put your blurbs on a special page in your media kit titled something like "Praise for The Frugal Book Promoter." Actually, I sometimes use a page that says, “Unsolicited Praise for The Frugal Book Promoter" because the word "unsolicited" carries so much more clout.
3. Blurbs may sometimes be used in a query letter.
4. Use blurbs  on your postcards, bookmarks, even business cards. (You do use postcards for special events, don’t you? )
5. Put blurbs on the poster you take with you to book signings. 
6. Use a blurb as a footer on your stationery.
7. Use one or more blurbs on handouts you give when you speak or appear at book fairs or signings.
8. One author who writes books for business people even has a blurb printed on her checks.
9. When you publish your book in another format or in another edition, put a page of your favorite blurbs either at the very front of the book or in the backmatter. This may sound brassy to you, but it’s  often done by the most prestigious publishers.

Gee, I think you get the idea. Blurbs, even if they aren't from the most famous people, help sell books. But please don’t avoid asking for famous blurbs. I asked Dan Poynter to endorse the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter and he was back with a blurb within the day. That is the kind of a validation that no one should hesitate to stick their necks out for.