Monday, January 24, 2005


I'm reading Andrew Klavan's Shotgun Alley, and I was going to write a post about how much I've enjoyed Klavan's books in general, but as usual I got sidetracked. It happened when I remembered that I started reading Klavan when he began writing a series of books under the name "Keith Peterson." The first book in the series was The Trapdoor, and for some reason I was sent a copy of the galley and asked for a blurb. I was glad to write one, since I liked the book a lot, but I don't think the blurb was ever used, probably because, let's face it, a blurb from me doesn't mean as much as one from some writer with a Big Name. And, of course, Klavan went on to become a Big Name himself, even if Keith Peterson didn't (though the Peterson name sold a ton of books, I think).

This thought led to another one, about the mysteries I've been asked to blurb for writers who went on to become much bigger names than I ever did. For example, Mary Willis Walker sent me a copy of the ARC of her second book, The Red Scream, and asked for a blurb. I liked the book a lot, but I told her that the editor probably wouldn't use my blurb. I was right. The blurb never appeared. The book did just fine without it and went on to win an Edgar.

I also received the galley of Carolyn Hart's first mystery novel. Once again, I provided a very positive blurb. Once again, it wasn't used. And once again, the author's reputation went on eclipse mine by a long way.

Finally, Debbie Crombie asked me for a blurb for her first novel. This time the editor actually used it, and of course Debbie's books have sold zillions since then.

What's the moral of all this? There isn't one. Unless it's that my blurbs, whether they're used or not, are good luck. But I don't really believe that. We happen to be talking about some very talented people here, and it's a certainty that their books would have gone on to have great success without my endorsement. And I've blurbed other novels that haven't done quite so well.

What did I get out of doing the blurbs? Well, I still have all those galleys, some of them signed. Maybe they're worth something, not that I'd ever sell them.

1 comment:

ed gorman & company said...

Gorman here:
Yeah, I always feel badly when a beginning writer asks me for a blurb. When I tell him I'm nobody and that the editor probably won't use it anyway, I always get the same reaction--but you've published so many books. Yes, friends, unsucccessful books. The marketplace defines us not anything else.