How to Get Your Favorite Writers to Blurb for You (and Yes, Luck Is Involved)

Blurb (blərb/): noun; a short description of a book, movie, or other product written for promotional purposes and appearing on the cover of a book or in an advertisement.

This week I started what I thought would be the arduous task of finding “blurb-ists” for Permanent Marker.

I asked four writers (two of whom are big guns in the memoir writing world, Abigail Thomas, Safekeeping, and Darin Strauss, Half a Life), the pioneer of writing as therapy, one famous teacher, one famous Latino singer’s manager, and two other prestigious teachers for a grand total of nine, and guess what? Six of them—almost 70 percent—said yes!!! Another said he’d try, and there were two others I haven’t heard back from at all. Pretty good odds for my blurbs, right?!

So how’d I get them to say yes, you wanna know…especially those big gun writers.

1. When I read writing that moves me, I look up the writers. Or if I read an article about someone interesting (like the famous teacher), I look him up. After finding out whatever I can about them, I find them on social media and friend request, message, or follow them. That way, not only are my feeds filled with writerly things, but I have a way to connect, even if only in a small way. Then, I take the opportunity to comment on or “like” the writer’s posts or sometimes even retweet, if on Twitter. I’ve even messaged one to get more information, and guess what? He answered. You have to allow social media to work the way it’s supposed to.

2. I’ve looked up writers’ email addresses to try to connect them with my classroom. In one case, the writer agreed to respond to questions my students wrote to him after we had finished his book.

3. I also did a free monthly upgrade on LinkedIn to try to connect to someone there….nothing yet, but at least it’s an avenue.

4. I know these don’t seem like secrets, but today, social media allows us to help spread the word about others as a form of publicity, and once you’ve made yourself a part of that person’s “network,” your help for their cause could get you noticed, and that’s great for your own writing.

5. Which is what happened to me. When I reached out for blurbs, particularly with Thomas and Strauss, also with the famous teacher, I made mention of how we were/ or had been connected, or how I felt about their work, what it had meant to me personally. I was so excited that they even responded!!!

6. But guess what? It worked. I know that many different workshop sessions I’ve sat in on have called all of this being a good literary citizen, and I think I’ve only scraped the surface. Even though I still have a long way to go at understanding social media and making it work full force for me, what I have done has been successful—surprisingly. Social media has made the world a lot smaller, so why not take advantage of it?

And once they agree to those blurbs, then freak out full force because those award winning writers are going to read your writing. And phew. That’s some scary shit. I hope I don’t disappoint them.

(P.S. If Ricky Martin’s manager ever gets back to me, the world will know.)

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