I’ve collected pre-publication blurbs before–fine ones from name-brand intellectuals and historians such as Francis Fukuyama, Victor Davis Hanson, and Jay Winik. I wasn’t shy about asking them, either. They knew me and my work. They were in broad agreement with what I was saying. Moreover, nonfiction writing wasn’t new to me. I had confidence in what I had written.
With The First Assassin, however, I was hesitant to ask for blurbs. I’m a first-time novelist. The quality of my fiction hasn’t been road-tested in major magazines and newspapers. Up to now, in fact, only a few people have read the manuscript. It was entirely conceivable that accomplished novelists would want nothing to do with this book. Either they wouldn’t have time or–my real fear–they wouldn’t like it.
I wound up sending email messages to a handful of thriller writers whose work I enjoy. The tone was a little sheepish. Here are a couple of lines from one of my inquiries:
I have a favor to ask — and feel free to say no, without worries, if you don’t have time or aren’t interested. … Anyway, please think it over — and don’t be afraid to say no. I will hold no grudges.
I’m happy to report that I now have three very good blurbs in hand for The First Assassin. I’m hoping for a fourth. I’ll begin to share them as we approach publication.