"Beggin' for blurbs," as I call it, is the author equivalent of a wedgie. You know what's to come is painful, but you're unable to stop it.
Publishers and editors ask that an author reach out to well-known writers in order to read his manuscript and provide a glowing quote that will not only influence reviewers and critics but also consumers.
But well-known authors are busy.
And trying to lead normal lives.
Doing laundry, hitting the grocery, buying milk, eating at Chili's.
Beggin' for blurbs can often be an excruciating exercise in humility and embarrassment. If an author had any ego before sending his manuscript out to famous authors, it is nuked via the blurb process.
I have spent weeks crafting personalized pitch letters to famous writers I've never met but long admired, asking them to spend their precious time reading a 300-page manuscript from an emerging author. I have perfected prose that was complimentary but not stalker-ish, hilarious yet poignant. I have killed myself trying, bending over backward, whoring myself out, all trying to make it seem natural.
Basically, I was a porn star.
I once received a response from a well-known author, nearly a year after I'd asked for them to blurb the book, and just weeks before the book was about to publish.
"Do you know who I am?" the rather catty note inquired.
Which is why I had asked in the first place.
I assumed this author despised the book and/or me, and, thus, opted not to send, "This is the Worst Piece of Crap I'll Ever Read in My Life!"
Which is a shame, because my publicist could easily have edited that to read: "This is the ... Piece ... I'll ... Read My [Entire] Life!"
I sound bitter, but, honestly, I harbor no ill-will.
In fact, I've learned a great deal beggin' for blurbs ...
... first and foremost, I now try and help serious, emerging authors who seek help and advice in the publishing process. More than anything, I help emerging authors who have worked tirelessly on their first books, and polished them to perfection, with their query letters to agents. I feel I can help ... and, though I am often not timely, I do try and offer as much assistance as I can.
And while I do not read unsolicited manuscripts, I do read manuscripts, when asked by an author, editor or publisher, when they have have a finished book that is set to be published and one they feel strongly about. And I will blurb a book, but only if I believe in and feel strongly about the book.
Now, I am one of the most anti-Secret guys you'll ever meet.
I still make fun of folks who wear fanny packs and Crocs, who still write checks, or give clerks exact change. If there's a bad weave in front of me at the grocery, I'll politely point it out by telling everyone standing in line behind me.
But, I think my Secret is beginning to pay dividends.
With my upcoming memoir, AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life, set to publish June 2 from Harmony/Random House, I targeted three bestselling authors whose work I greatly admired, those who have made me laugh and cry, who have challenged me to become a better writer.
I waited, my gut cramping, Tums and Wet Wipes on stand-by, expecting the worst.
But then something happened ... something great ...
I got fabulous blurbs from:
-Tom Perrotta, bestselling author (and Oscar-nominated screenwriter) of such novels as Election, Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher
-Jen Lancaster, bestselling author of the memoirs Such a Pretty Fat, Bitter Is the New Black, Bright Lights, Big Ass, and the upcoming Pretty in Plaid
-and AJ Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All
I'm so thrilled with their reactions to my upcoming memoir and, truly, their sheer joy over my book, that I wanted to share their blurbs.
I'm proud, yes, and happy, yes, but, mostly, I want writers to continue believing in their own work, their writing, their dream. And I want them to keep beggin' for blurbs, no matter how trying the process can be.
Here are the fabolicious blurbs my upcoming memoir will feature prominently:
"In At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, Wade Rouse details his quest to shed the trappings of his fabulous life to live more simply ... except no one told him how hard the simple life would be. ROUSE IS A MASTER RACONTEUR, and his transition from city slicker to country mouse is filled with side-splitting humor, heart, and, of course, bands of marauding raccoons. THIS BOOK HAS NOW TAKEN ITS PLACE AT THE TOP OF MY FAVORITES LIST!"
-Jen Lancaster, bestselling author of Such A Pretty Fat and Pretty in Plaid
"Wade Rouse is a true oddball: half Henry David Thoreau, half Oliver Wendell Douglas. At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream is A FUNNY, GOOD-NATURED CHRONICLE OF A FISH OUT OF WATER, SLOWLY LEARNING TO BREATHE."
-Tom Perrotta, bestselling author of Election, Little Children, and The Abstinence Teacher
"In At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, Wade Rouse's inner Eddie Albert does battle with his inner Eva Gabor. I won't tell you who wins, but the fight is IMMENSELY ENTERTAINING!'
-A.J. Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All