Getting Out of Book Blurbs

Author:
Publish date:

Q: How do I get out of writing a blurb for a friend's not-so-good self-published book?—Anonymous

A: Friends are always asking for favors—May I borrow your leaf blower? Will you watch my dog? Do you mind if I tell the police that we were together last Thursday just past midnight?

As a writer, you're susceptible to getting asked writerly favors from writerly friends, and often it puts you in an awkward predicament, just like when a friend asks you to write a blurb for his boring, poorly edited self-published book. You can't just flat-out say no—after all, it's a friend. But you obviously can't offer an endorsement to a book that isn't up to par, either.

What's a writer to do?

Thankfully, I've come up with a foolproof, 100% guaranteed-to-work "Guide to Getting Out of Book Blurbs" which provides five excellent options:

1. Fake an away message. Every time your friend e-mails the request, quickly send a response that says something like, "Thanks for your e-mail. I will be out of the country for an extended period of time and, unfortunately, they don't have the Internet in Zimbabwe."

2. Explain that you don't believe in book blurbs, but you're willing to take a picture of your hand giving the thumbs up.

3. Ask for outrageous favors in return. "Funny you should call looking for a book blurb, as I'm in a bit of a pickle myself. I need someone to act as a tackling dummy to help train my pet tiger. He keeps gnawing off arms. You free Friday?"

4. Offer to write it, but only under your pseudonym: Don Rita Thisbook.

5. Break your hand. (Just seeing how far you will go to get out of this—and if it's come down to option #5, that book must be bad.)

Of course, I hope you know I am kidding.

In all seriousness, the best way to politely turn down a friend's request for a book blurb on a not-so-good book is to be honest. Tell them you appreciate the thought, but you're uncomfortable being put in that situation. If they persist, explain your reservations about the book as nicely as you can. They shouldn't get mad. After all, if you had a friend who was an accountant and you asked him to sign off on your self-prepared tax return, he wouldn't do so unless he was comfortable with the numbers. You're a professional, too. Be sure to be treated like one.

But I suggest getting your leaf blower back first.

(Happy April Fools' Day!)

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 570

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a summer poem.

How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

When faced with the difficult task of promoting his novel Catch 42: A novel about our future, writer Felix Holzapfel had a wild idea: Why not use non-fungible tokens?

Bridget Morrissey: On Taking the Leap from YA to Adult Fiction

Bridget Morrissey: On Taking the Leap from YA to Adult Fiction

Author Bridget Morrissey explains the differences in her process for writing her first adult debut, Love Scenes, compared to her YA novels, what she wanted to explore in adult fiction, and more!

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Awdl Gywydd Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the awdl gywydd.

Kara Holden: On Adapting a Person's Life for the Screen

Kara Holden: On Adapting a Person's Life for the Screen

Screenwriter Kara Holden shares her experience with writing the script for Clouds on Disney+, and how she decided what moments of her subject's life to include in the film.

4 Tips for Setting a Novel in a Place You Don’t Know Well

4 Tips for Setting a Novel in a Place You Don’t Know Well

You want to write your story in a place you're not familiar with, but how can you do it justice? Kim Hooper, author of No Hiding in Boise, has some tips.

Alka Joshi: On Allowing Characters to Inform Your Sequel

Alka Joshi: On Allowing Characters to Inform Your Sequel

In this article, historical fiction author Alka Joshi explains how the characters from her first book inspired the sequel, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, and how their story managed to surprise her.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Magazine Cover Reveal, Literary Agent Boot Camp Announced, and More!

This week, we’re excited to reveal the cover for our upcoming July/August issue of Writer’s Digest, a Literary Agent Boot Camp, and more!