Best practices for blurbs

Advanced praise, aka blurbs, can be a key part of your publishing strategy. Blurbs offer early social proof from influential readers.  

Who should offer blurbs? Ideally your blurbers will be household names; i.e., known to your target reader. So, if you’re writing suspense or horror, a Stephen King blurb would be amazing. More likely, your blurber will be a fellow subject matter expert. If you’re writing a book on management coaching, for example, a blurb from Michael Bungay Stanier or Marshall Goldsmith will be ideal. The CEO of a company that’s relevant to your reader might also be a good choice. For every blurb, you’re looking for their names as social proof, with their titles (job position, “author of,” etc.) as further evidence.  

What else do blurbs do? Blurbs can be used for positioning support. Did your book change minds, or move the reader from here (problem) to there (solution)? The blurb can offer evidence of the book’s promise, and boost pre-orders.  

Do you need blurbs? Not necessarily. You can focus your marketing strategy on reader reviews after on-sale, and prepare solid marketing copy for your book. But an influential blurb can mean the difference between someone buying the book and passing on it.  

What to consider when seeking blurbs:

  • Who do you know? Look to whomever is already in your social circle, or just a degree or two away. Cold calls for blurbs are seldom successful.
  • How many do you need? About 3 to 5. If you go “blurbapalooza” and seek more than 10, it can be difficult to know which to spotlight on your book without hurting the blurbers’ feelings.
  • How should you ask them? I’ve included a template below.
  • How much time should you give them? You will ideally give the blurbers a month’s notice so they can block off time to read. Then, give them 3 weeks to a month to read. That’s 2 months’ lead time.
  • Which version of the book should you send? If you have time in your publishing schedule, send them the first set of typeset pages with all graphics in place (typeset = a PDF that looks like the final book). If your blurber requests a hard copy, make that for them and mail or courier it. If you are tight on time, send them the copyedited version with all changes accepted and comments removed. Not sure how much time you have in your schedule? Check with your project manager, editor, or publishing team. Pro tip: Arrange for your copy editor to also copyedit the blurbs for you, and ask your designer to leave space on the front and back cover for blurbs.
  • How long should a blurb be? A blurb will be about 2 or 3 lines long.
  • Thank them! Blurbing is a significant investment of time, and it’s unpaid. Thank your blurber, and maybe send them a handwritten note and a copy of the finished book. You never know: you might be asked to return the favour.

Here’s a template you can use in your blurb pitch:  

Dear NAME,  

[[connection]] It was wonderful to see you at the Big Ideas conference!  

[[reminder]] You’ll likely remember that I’ve been working on BIG IMPORTANT BOOK for a few years. Well, I’m happy to say it’s almost through copyedit and will be on sale in DATE!  

[[request]] As you’re an expert in BOOK SUBJECT, I wanted to offer you a chance to read an early copy. If you enjoy the content or find it useful, would you be willing to offer a short blurb of 2 or 3 lines?  

[[description]] Below, I’ve included a short description of the book.  

[[timeline]] I’d be able to send you the book on DATE, and I’d need a blurb by DATE.  

[[final thank you and sign-off]] Thank you for considering, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: