To Blurb or Not to Blurb: My Book Reading & Rec Policy

Sometime in the last year, the number of requests I’ve gotten to blurb or simply early-read books has gone up tremendously. For folks who can read a book in a three or four hour stretch, this may not be a big deal, but unless I’m in the midst of a gripping made-for-me book, it takes me a long time to finish things (and even then, bare minimum, it takes me 3-7 days). Add in all my other deadlines, especially here at year’s end, and I’m just overwhelmed.

I’ve been hearing a lot of murmurs at cons that “a Kameron Hurley blurb means something”(but what???) which kind of worries me (no pressure!), and has also contributed to this uptick. I may not sell millions of my own books, but my opinion is apparently taken seriously inside some genre circles.

Because I get so many requests now, I wanted to talk a little about what makes the difference between “Books I’ll blurb,” “Books I’ll review” and “Books I’ll signal boost” so that folks understand what I’m thinking when I choose to blurb or review what I dol.

Books I Will Probably Blurb

Ok, listen. If you send me a book to blurb and I don’t get back to you it’s MOST likely because I wasn’t able to finish it – I was too busy, it got lost among other things, I picked up a book that grabbed hold of me more than yours, etc (I still haven’t finished books I’m reading for fun like THE GOBLIN EMPEROR and THE PERIPHERAL and the last three Christopher Priest books). Next most likely is that I got into and realized it wasn’t for me and put it down again.

22.alamyThat said, there is a strange strata of books I read that I enjoy but that I don’t blurb, and that’s generally because it doesn’t seem like something that people who read my work would be into. Case in point: early in my career I was asked to blurb a secondary world supernatural romance. It was a good book with enjoyable worldbuilding, but it had some problematic power dynamics, and I just couldn’t put my name on it without a disclaimer. I didn’t think people who read my stuff would be into it; if my audience isn’t a good crossover audience for your book, then my blurb isn’t going to help you. I could be wrong! But that’s something I take into account. People tend to come to my work for the worldbuilding, the genderbending, and the kickass women protagonists. If I’m not seeing a lot of that in your book, I will probably just review it instead of providing a pre-release blurb.

I also bear some responsibility for the books that I blurb – if those books are problematic, that does blow back on me, so I blurb with care. I need to love something enough to swallow that and be OK with it.

What I really want to avoid, of course, is becoming one of those authors whose blurbs mean nothing except that I’m friends with the author, or that I feel sorry for them. I don’t want to be one of those authors who just blurbs everything like, “Well, this book promises to be good if only I could have finished reading it!” or some ridiculous nothing-statement like that.

Books I’ll Review

I’ll review pretty much everything that I enjoy or think is worthwhile and challenging in some way on my site in the “Books You Should be Reading” feature. That said, I have to FINISH it, first, and whoa boy, yeah – that’s the real issue, there. What I like about reviews as opposed to blurbs is that I can put the disclaimers in there – yes, this book was great, but watch out for that rape scene, or yes, this book was great, but understand that it has some serious women problems.

Books I’ll Signal Boost

If I know you/have met you and I like you and your books are well-written and not a scourge upon the earth and you’re not a giant asshole, I’ll probably signal boost your release news/goodie tweets, etc. Please don’t ASK me to do this, because it’s at my discretion and I’d prefer to keep this as a “Nice thing to do when I see it” instead of yet another full-time job thing, though. I have enough full time jobs, thanks.

Bonus Trivia

Don’t send me generic medieval dudebro books. For real. Just don’t. You’re wasting your time and my time and your book marketing budget. Send me a book with wicked women protagonists, fabulous worldbuilding, and great writing.

Blurb/Review requests should go through my agent (Hannah Bowman) or to my publicity @ address. If you send me a pitch and the book doesn’t sound like it’s up my alley, I will decline or decline through my agent, and save us all some time.

I’m more likely to read paper copies of a book than ecopies. Sorry, marketing budgets. This has something to do with having it staring at me on my nightstand instead of buried on Kindle Cloud on my phone.

I hate fishing for blurbs just as much as you do. I have to fish for blurbs, too, and I know it sucks. Please know that I understand this is something we all have to do even though we hate it, and I’m not mad or annoyed at you or anything for asking, as long as you’re not annoying about it. In general when I ask for blurbs I ask once, then follow up once a couple weeks before blurbs are due for people who requested the manuscript to let them know blurbs are due soon. I don’t expect replies and leave it at that and never mention it again if they don’t blurb or review the book.

To sum up, I love you all (probably), but I have three jobs and very exacting reading taste. So say we all.

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