Re: RARA-AVIS: it's word of mouth, not blurbs

Fred Willard (
Sat, 16 Jan 1999 00:34:10 -0500 At 08:48 PM 1/15/99 -0500, you wrote:
>Fred Willard spoke about GOD IS A BULLET by Boston Teran. Fred, I think
>what you've proved is that word of mouth is effective, not blurbs per
>se. I ignore blurbs from another authors because I have no faith in the
>sincerity behind them. I know publishers ask their authors to blurb
>someone else's book -- it's part of the business. Obligatory. And so
>has become meaningless.
> Word of mouth however has far more credibility. I'll look for God is
>a Bullet.
>-- Louise

Well, I really don't want to beat it to death, but in the original message
I wasn't offering a defense of all blurbs. I was responding to a point Dave
made about "blurbs for strangers." I took it a step further and was talking
about blurbs for first time authors, offering the example of someone who is
going to be well blurbed because people responded to his exceptional
writing. (It would have been hard not to).

My point was that these are the blurbs I do pay qualified attention to.
Most writers, honestly, aren't sitting around waiting for the chance to say
clever things about someone they've never heard of before, who can't write
well and probably won't have a career that's long enough to return the
favor. (Save your cynicism for when the hypothetical new writer succeeds
and returns the favor several years later).

It does take some interpretation and understanding of why someone may or
may not have blurbed a new book and a recognition of who the usual suspects
are for this publisher. If four of publisher X's authors are praising
publisher X's new author, well...

New first books frequently don't have buzz or reviews and their shelf life
may not be long enough to get either. Some great books die out there. If I
want to buy them, I have to make judgements based on blurbs, cover copy
(which can also be cynical), and reading the opening pages. There's not
much else to go on.

Sometimes I miss because someone praised a book much more extravagantly
than I thought was it's due. Of course, it could have been a difference of
opinion too. That's life!

My last word on the subject. I promise. Be happy to email.


Down on Ponce a novel by Fred Willard
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