Famous authors get requests for blurbs all the time. Usually far too many to respond to even if they wanted to. If they want to take the time to read the books, even less. Some become notorious blurb whores. Some stop blurbing entirely. Most scale back and blurb only for friends or books that really impress them.
I’ve never heard of this. It wouldn’t mean much if I were to tell people that I’d be willing to do it. My name has some value, but for a limited range of books. Applying it randomly wouldn’t help anyway. That’s true for almost all authors up to the King or Rowling level. Publishers want blurbs from indisputable celebrities or experts in the field, thereby guaranteeing that the reading experience will be a good one, sort of the equivalent to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
The author is normally responsible. It’s part of the larger promotional package for a book. A book proposal these days is supposed to come with a plan about how the book will be marketed. This wasn’t true even recently, when it was thought to be the publisher’s responsibility and writers weren’t considered to have any expertise along these lines. Reading a “how to write a book proposal” book makes it seem like you can’t sell a book unless you have your own tv show, website, and political party. You should darn well be able to provide a measly blurb. That’s not reality, but publishing left the reality tracks in panic many years ago.
There are no fixed expectations. Some publishers will send out a truckload of books at random but most understand that it’s an imposition and require a list of names. As I mention often, publishing does no research. Nobody knows if a blurb actually sells books. The use of blurbs waxes and wanes at publishers and across different publishers as marketing people with different philosophies come into power. I’d read hints that the thinking now is that a strong description of the book is better than blurbs. Since the mainstream press puts out 50,000 books a year that leaves a lot of leeway for varied options and opinions.
Sure. You get your name put out there as a big shot. That’s free advertising. Publishing realized much earlier than the Internet that expecting people to do things for the exposure is much better than actually paying. After all, writing is what writers do, isn’t it? [sarcasm]
The understanding is that you do 11 on a scale of 10.
Most writers know what a blurb is and will write for the space. Obviously, they can’t know how many blurbs or how much of the back cover will be used so there’s not an issue if some judicious editing is done. Comedians’ blurbs are often one-liners but that’s rare elsewhere.
Still, you can get surprised. I once sent back what I thought was a standard one-paragraph blurb for a book in my expertise. I was told that it was too long. OK, cut it down I said. Turned out the reason they wanted just a few words was that they used it as a rare front-cover blurb, the kind used when the blurber’s name is much bigger than the new author’s. It’s the ultimate accolade.* Very cool. But that was rare and totally unpecxted.
- OK, I suppose the Nobel Prize in Literature might be more ultimate-y. It’s still a big deal.