(Note: This blog article is a request for feedback on an important new feature that we’re developing at BookBuzzr for our authors. We’d appreciate any feedback or suggestions that you provide on this feature. You can provide feedback in the form of comments at the bottom of the article.)
Anatomy of a blurb:
As you already know, a book blurb is a positive comment or a few words of praise given to a book from a prominent personality or author. Some people call it a testimonial. Others call it an endorsement. Ideally, your book should have pages upon pages of blurbs from other authors.
Let us now look at an actual blurb and analyze it.
Here’s an example for the book The Four Hour Workweek from Timothy Ferris.
“Stunning and amazing. From mini-retirements to outsourcing your life, it’s all here. Whether you’re a wage slave or a Fortune 500 CEO, this book will change your life!”
—PHIL TOWN, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Rule #1
This blurb affects 3 kinds of people in the following ways:
- Timothy Ferris (the author of Four Hour Workweek) gains credibility for his book since another author has praised his book. Further, Tim gains new readers since the readers of Phil Towns book may decide to become interested in Tim’s book.
- The provider of the blurb – Phil Town also gains significant marketing mileage since he now has a reference (or back link) to his own book – Rule #1 from ‘Four Hour Workweek’. In other words, every time Tim sells another copy of his book, Phil gets an opportunity to expose his book title to the reader.
- The reader of Tim’s book also benefits since this reader can now make a decision about whether or not he wants to buy the book. His decision time is reduced and if he trusts Phil enough, he is able to make a buy decision without actually having to plough through the entire book.
Why is a blurb from another author so helpful for your book?
This is because of 3 reasons:
- It gives your book credibility since another author in a related area has praised it.
- It encourages the readers of that author (who provided the blurb) to get interested in your book.
- It shortens the decision time and allows your readers to outsource the analysis of whether to buy your book or not to a trusted third party.
- A “Request Blurb” Button
- An “Offer Blurb” Button
- Request additional time (1 more week)
- Provide the blurb
- Refuse to provide the blurb citing reasons.
Value of a Blurb
The value of a blurb can expressed as a mathematical formula:
Value of the Blurb or Blurb Value = C * P * R
C = Credibility of the person providing the blurb
P = Passion with which the person provides the blurb
R = Relevance of the person providing the blurb to the target audience
What does this formula mean? Let’s illustrate with an example. So let’s say, a celebrity like Lady Gaga makes a tweet:
“Read Joe Author’s book. It’s great!”
Now let’s say that Joe Author’s book deals with a topic that is of no interest to Lady Gaga fans and followers.
Do you think this tweet will impact book sales?
There is enough evidence to show that such a tweet will result in zero sales. For example, in this article Nicholas Christakis author of a scholarly book called Connected talks about a tweet from Alyssa Milano which mentioned the book. The tweet which went out to 1.5 million fans resulted in no sales!
In this example, there was credibility (Alyssa Milano is about as famous as they come). But was there passion in the blurb? Apparently not since the tweet read:
“Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks & How They Shape Our Lives☛ http://is.gd/f8nP8 /via @brainpicker”
And what about Relevance?
It looks like it was not at all relevant to the target audience. You would not expect a bunch of young hormone driven teenagers (and teenagers caught in 40 year old bodies) to get excited by a scholarly book. So relevance was zero. And the value of the blurb was zero.
Now let us consider another example. Let’s say that a relatively unknown author (some credibility) writes a well-thought through, cogent and passionate blurb consisting of more than just one phrase (high passion) about your book. And let’s assume that this author has a readership similar or even identical to yours. The value of this blurb is very high indeed.
Thus, a blurb provider with a seemingly lesser social influence (say with a readership running into hundreds) can potentially be of more value to you if the blurb looks authentic and the person providing the blurb operates in an area similar or identical to yours. In fact, all of the other authors whom you consider as your competitors can be a great resource for you if you can get them to provide blurbs for your book.
So the trick is to get high value blurbs for your book … lots of them.
And at present, authors don’t have an easy way to get these coveted high value blurbs from other authors.
So What’s the Big Idea at BookBuzzr?
There are over 6,000 authors registered with BookBuzzr. We’re working on a new feature called BookBuzzr Blurb Building Technology. BookBuzzr Blurb Building Technology will consist of two parts:
The “Request Blurb” and “Offer Blurb” buttons will appear on an author’s profile page on Freado.com. These buttons will be visible ONLY to other authors who are registered with BookBuzzr. The buttons will be visible for ALL BookBuzzr authors including BookBuzzr Author Lite authors (those who have opted for the free technologies of BookBuzzr) and for BookBuzzr Author Pro authors (those who have opted for the premium paid technologies of BookBuzzr.) The button will NOT be visible to readers and book lovers who visit Freado.com.
So if you are an author and you are signed in to your BookBuzzr account and you visit author Ellen Maze’s profile page on Freado, you will see a screen that looks something like this:
Figure 1: Proposed Author Profile Page on Freado.com
If a blurb from author Ellen Maze is relevant to your audience, you can go ahead and click on the “Request Blurb” button. This will send a message to Ellen suggesting that she review your book and provide a blurb. Ellen will also receive some basic information about your book (such as links to a preview of your BookBuzzr Widget and BookBuzzr Book Sample.) Ellen can now move to the next step and accept to read your book. You would then send a copy of your book at your cost (either via email attachment if you have an ebook or via physical copy if all you have is a hard copy of your book.) Ellen can then read the book and provide a blurb ONLY if she believes that the book deserves her endorsement. At any stage, of this process, Ellen can ignore the request (if she prefers not to do business with the requesting author) or refuse to provide the endorsement (for example if the book is of poor quality.)
Similarly, it’s possible that you are very impressed with what you see on Ellen’s profile or inside one of Ellen’s book sample. You may also realize that you and your works may be relevant or recognizable to Ellen’s readers. You may decide that you want to help Ellen and yourself with a blurb (remember that when you provide a blurb it also provides marketing mileage for your book?) So you go ahead and click on the “Offer Blurb” button. In the next step, you will be asked to choose the book for which you want to provide a blurb. Once you fill in the details, Ellen will receive a message letting her know that you’ve offered to provide a blurb for one of her books. Ellen can then learn more about you (how credible you are, how relevant you are for her readers etc.) and then accept your offer to provide an endorsement or testimonial for her book. Ellen will then need to send you a copy of her book at her cost via email attachment (if ebook is available) or via post (if the book is available only in physical format.) After reading through the book you will then provide a blurb. In rare cases, you may decide that the book is not worthy of your blurb and decide against providing the blurb. It should be a rare case since you should have done your due diligence before offering to provide a blurb for the book!
Once a blurb is received the receiving author can accept the blurb and begin using the blurb in their marketing materials (including website, book flyers, blog, Facebook fan pages, book inside jacket, book back cover etc.) Or the author can request you to modify your blurb. Again, the author will need to change the status of the blurb request or blurb offer to “Blurb Accepted”. Else, you will both receive reminder emails from BookBuzzr. Also, you will need to remember that by providing a blurb, you grant permission to the author to use the blurb in any and all of their marketing materials.
Now here’s another problem that you may have run into when you have been requested to provide a blurb. You receive the book from the author and then you get busy. So the author who sent you the book waits in silent anxiety which eventually turns into frustration. It’s not that you wanted to let the author down. It’s just that there were no systems in place to ensure that you got your blurb out in time.
The BookBuzzr Blurb Building Technology will handle this by ensuring that you update the status of the blurb request or blurb offer within 2 weeks of receiving the book. You will need to:
Thus, within 3 weeks maximum of the blurb provider receiving the book, the author can be sure that she will receive a yes or a no (with reasons for the no.)
Another problem that we’ve handled is this:
An author can offer to provide a blurb for your book. You then excitedly send in your book. The author now gets to read a free book and take you for a ride. In such cases, you can report abuse to the team at BookBuzzr. If your complaint has merit, we may even shut down the author’s BookBuzzr account.
To avoid the problem of authors getting too many blurb requests or blurb offers we’ve limited the total number of requests and offers that can be sent by an author on BookBuzzr. These are as under:
– If you are BookBuzzr Author Lite member – You can send a maximum of 3 Blurb Requests and 3 Blurb Offers.
– If you are a BookBuzzr Author Pro member – You can send a maximum of 15 Blurb Requests and 15 Blurb Offers.
What happens if your Blurb Request is not accepted or ignored? You lose that chance. In other words, you need to be careful about whom you request a blurb from or offer a blurb to. If the other author is in a completely different domain or seems like a not so helpful author, avoid wasting your finite blurb offers and blurb requests.
How do you replenish your available Blurb Requests and Blurb Offers? Every time you provide a blurb that is accepted, you get 3 more Blurb Requests and 3 more Blurb Offers. The more you help, the more you benefit. The most helpful authors (those providing the most number of accepted blurbs) will be featured in the BookBuzzr monthly newsletter (readership of thousands) as well as on the BookBuzzr and Freado websites. This will give you and your books additional exposure.
Of course, if you choose not to participate in this program at all (not recommended unless you are really, really famous), you can simply “Turn Off BookBuzzr Blurb Building Technology” with a few clicks on your BookBuzzr Book Marketing Home.
Now once you get the blurbs, what do you do with them? You can use them on your website, blog, book inside jacket, BookBuzzr Widget and BookBuzzr Book Sampler (in the praise section), book-flyers and on other marketing collateral of your book.
We expect that as more authors sign-up for BookBuzzr it will become more useful for the BookBuzzr author community (since authors will have more choice). Network effects will kick in and the entire program will get onto a virtuous cycle.