The Problem With Blurbs (Or How I Got My Reading Groove Back)

This will be a disappointing post for some, and an apology, too.

I get a lot of requests for blurbs.

They roll in, at least one a week. And I am genuinely honored each time that anyone would ever consider having my dumb name devaluing their book from the inside or on its exterior. Bonus: I like helping writers, from eager novitiate to well-practiced word-herder. And I’ve been there. I’ve been the guy with a book in his hand, just asking another author, DO YOU LIKE-LIKE ME Y/N COOL LET’S GO TO THE PROM TOGETHER I mean ha ha will you blurb my book?

Blurbs are currency — I don’t mean currency in the way that cigarettes and toilet wine are in prison, we don’t trade them. I mean they’re currency for readers. Some readers admittedly probably don’t give a lick of spit who said what about what book, but for others, they see a blurb on a cover and think: “Well, if MY FAVORITE AUTHOR likes this book, then I too might like this book.” Of course, therein leads to a slightly new problem, whereupon an author of one type of book blurbs a book in a genre that author doesn’t write, and people then make assumptions based on the blurbed book (or the blurbing author). “Ah, a horror novelist blurbed this fantasy book, so it must be a horror-fantasy novel,” and then that’s not true, and a reader feels cheated.

Anyway, that’s really not the point.

Point is, I get a lot of these requests.

And I’m going to have to start turning them down.

It’s due to a confluence of reasons. First, I am not a zippy reader. Worse, I do not have a great deal of time for reading — I can carve out a little time in the BATTLESHED, and I snatch time at night before bed, but all in all, life with mounting deadlines and a five-year-old I want to spend time with means my reading time is precious. When I’m trying to read roughly a book a week for blurbing purposes, that’s literally all I’m reading (except for research books, when necessary). And it’s not that I’m reading bad books. Hardly! I’m reading great stuff. New stuff. Stuff I wouldn’t have necessarily gone out to buy on my own. And even still, I was having to turn stuff down just by dint of having too many other books to read-for-blurbs. Worse, though, is that I have a now-teetering TBR (to-be-read) pile that includes a whole lot of books I’d very much like to read for pleasure, but can’t get to because I’m trying to read books for blurbing. Which means I’m reading the books-for-blurbing fast, too fast, and they’re becoming more a point of contention and disappointment because I feel obligated to read those rather than read things I want to read. It ends up making them a chore, rather than a noble delight.


Over the last couple weeks, I set aside books-for-blurbing and started to dig into that pile. I read a couple McCammon books that had been sitting on the back-burner. I started the new Kevin Hearne ARC (Plague of Giants) and the second Broken Earth book by Nora Jemisin. And suddenly, I’m in love with reading again. I feel lighter, more buoyant. I don’t feel like reading is an obligation or a stressor, but rather, a pleasure.

And I really needed that.

So, for the short term, my BLURB DOOR is closed. You can always ask, of course, but generally, the answer shall be no, sorry — and most blurb requests should be sent through my agent, Stacia Decker, anyway. Further, it means if you’re waiting for a blurb from me — *winces* — nnnyeah, you probably won’t get one at this point. The desire is high but the reality is, you probably don’t want me feeling that your book is a chore — even if it’s a beautiful, staggering, sublime read, I’ll still feel right now like it’s homework I’m turning in late.


*throws self on the altar*

*reads a couple books while up there*