I was in a bookstore last week–this one, if you’re curious–hemming and hawing over a title I hadn’t heard about before. A pair of blurbs persuaded me to buy. They were by writers whose work I admire. I’m now about halfway through Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley. It looks like the blurbs steered me in the right direction.
At a base level, blurbs are marketing ploys. As a reader, however, I appreciate what they can reveal. If Michael Connelly and Steve Hamilton truly enjoyed Starvation Lake, then perhaps I will as well.
For The First Assassin, I’m trying to collect a few blurbs. It’s an awkward process. Blurbs aren’t necessarily exercises in critical judgment. They may be offered out of friendship or for professional reasons. Mark Helprin once told me that he doesn’t seek blurbs for his books because he considers the whole business a sordid racket, full of insider dealing and mutual backscratching.
In the case of The First Assassin, I want the authors who endorse it to do so for one reason only: because they like it.
Next week, I’ll start to describe how I’ve tried to get a few blurbs.