Your Blurb Here
When I was a kid at St. Gerard's Elementary School, I had to go door-to-door once a year schilling pencils or chocolate covered almonds to raise funds. I'm still not sure what the funds were being raised for, since in Canada, unlike in the U.S., "extras," such as teaching materials, are included in school budgets, as part of their socialist brainwashing scheme. We did have a pretty fancy set of velvet stage curtains, though, through which I gave my star turn as Lucky, the Christmas Elf. Maybe the pencil and candy money got us those.
I didn't care if it was going to build a stairway to heaven. I hated being forced to sell stuff, and I hate it when my kids are expected to do the same, especially when the pressure to do so is packaged as a FUN-WIN-NEAT-PRIZES competition. If I can, I just write a check. If I can't write a check, I'll try to give some time. If I can't do either at the moment, I trust that I can make up for it down the line.
I was thinking about those damn pencils this morning, as I contemplated the unpleasant task of soliciting blurbs for my book. My manuscript is at the copyediting stage, and my editor says it's time to start thinking about marketing. I'm to fill out something called an Author's Questionnaire, which I imagine will go like this:
Q. How many famous writers are you best friends with?
Q. How many authors do you know who would not mark your email "spam?"
A. I'm afraid to find out.
Q. How many near relatives (by blood, adoption or marriage) do you have who occupy powerful positions in media?
A. Does editing the annual family newsletter count?
Q. What makes you think anyone is going to read this book, anyway, you big loser?
And so on.
To get my mind off it, I decided to answer a bunch of reader emails that I've very rudely and shamefully neglected to acknowledge in a timely manner. I read each one as I received it, but reading them all together was so wonderful. If you've ever taken the time to reach out to a writer and tell them you appreciated their words, please know it was a beautiful gift, even if it does go unacknowledged in direct terms. I keep all such emails in a folder called "moral support," and I must have hundreds of them by now. I'm not naive about the business of blurbs; as a reader, I look to them myself to help decide if a book is up my alley. But I wish I could use the kinds of messages I read today to adorn my book cover. To a stranger in a bookstore, they might not mean as much as the recommendation of a big "name" author, but they mean as much, and even more, to me.
P.S. If you are a famous author, are close personal friends with one, or are owed a large sum of money by one, I'd love to send along an advance copy. I'll even throw in a box of pencils.
Labels: the writing life