Actually, there’s no question. At least not to me. If a book-to-be comes at me from someone I know, or via the friend-of-friend, or the infinite interconnections of the writing and reading community, and it has at least some promise, I’ll try to help . Why wouldn’t I?
Sad to say, I might be an outlier in this area. My new novel was just published. I reached out to a couple of “name” authors whose work I like, and who are in my lane. Realism. Literary fiction. Midwest setting. Neither author replied. I followed up with a short nudge. “Hey, I’m wondering if you got my note about my forthcoming novel? I think it’s my best work.” Crickets.
I can see this (no) response if you’re Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates. Imagine the volume of queries and correspondence that come their way. And a sidebar on Ms. Joyce Oates. I once, long ago, asked her for a blurb. I had a big novel coming out with Simon & Shuster, had met Ms. Oates at the Library of Congress where we both received PEN Fictions short story awards. We got on well, and I later sent a written note with my “ask.” She replied, by letter, with a very kind “No.” Her reason?. “If I do one, then the floodgates are open and I’ll drown.” I still have the letter, which, amusingly, was unsigned.
Back to being ghosted. The two authors I queried both seem to have time for social media. Neither were blockbuster, best-seller type of authors, but were well respected for their literary careers. They might well have recognized my name, or if not, a quick Google would show that, as a writer, I am not chopped liver. But it was clear from their silence that, as Bartelby the Scrivener said, they “preferred not to.” I guess the easiest reply for some people is no reply.
But I reply. And I blurb. Long ago I decided I would try help other authors, especially emerging voices. Why wouldn’t I? It’s good for them and good for me. My name on your book jacket is free advertising for me, for my brand.
So if you’re looking for a comment for your book jacket, here’s how it works. Remember–first you have to have a book contract. A blurb is for the book– not a recommendation you can use with agents or publishers. Once that’s clear, I suss out your commitment to writing. If you’re someone who hasn’t put in the work, someone who just had a “great idea and so wrote a book,” and self-published it, I’m probably not inclined. Writing is serious. Just because you speak English doesn’t mean you can write a good novel. But if you have put in your work (apprentice reading, writing, workshops, completed stories or novels)–stuck with it–I’m way more inclined.
I can’t read your whole manuscript or ARC (advanced reading copy). To do that, I would drown, as Ms. Oates said. But I can tell a whole lot about your writing by a few chapters, and from that I can likely craft a comment for your book jacket.
I’m happy to help. We’re in this together.