Very fashionable in the US, a “blurb” is a catchy little phrase on the cover of a book to bait the reader or convince him to buy. It’s a bit like quoting press articles at the top of the movie posters. But is it really useful?
Frankly, I do not think so.
The real or supposed utility of a blurb
Have you ever bought a book because of a quote in quotation marks on the back cover of a book? Probably not. Therefore, I do not really see the value of using his time and energy to get it while we can use the same resources to write his book and promote it.
This is even more true for freelance writers who are only distributed on the Internet (ie 99% of them): no one is interested in your back cover … You can always add quotes in your presentation text but the real gain is marginal (which does not mean that it is zero).
Of course, if you have easy access to a known personality, you can always ask him to do you this favor. Nevertheless, this may not be the best thing to do: one can often ask for a service, but rarely two.
If so, it is better to ask him to help you promote your book, which can take many forms, such as a relationship with journalists or a direct promotion to his audience. And you can also ask him to write a preface!
Better than a blurb: a preface
If you know someone who can help you design or promote your book (through its network or audience), it’s better to ask for a preface than a quote! Indeed, people are not fooled: a blurb looks like a marketing gadget while a preface indicates a real effort to contribute to the book.
In addition, a preface offers several other advantages:
- The name of the prefacier may appear directly on the front cover while a blurb is often on the back cover
- The name of the prefacier is referenced by the booksellers (as a co-author) so you get visibility on the Internet
- A prefacier will often be more motivated to promote a book in which he wrote that a book in which he is only quoted
- A prefacier gives credibility to the content of your book so favors the act of purchase more than a simple quote
Should we give up a blurb? Of course not: if your potential prefacier can only offer you a quote, take what to take and put it prominently in your promotional texts …