Recently, a writer approached me about blurbing her forthcoming book. (A blurb is a brief testimonial you often see on the back of a book.) Since her book is in my non-fiction niche, I agreed to take a look. She’s not the first person to ask me to blurb her book, but she is by far the one who did it best. She didn’t, as one writer did, diss me in a group I happen to belong to and then ask me to lend my name to her project. And she didn’t, as another writer did, tell me I didn’t actually have to read the book in order to blurb it. She also didn’t ask me to blurb a book that was EXACTLY like a book I’d already written.
What she did was send an email (addressed to “Ms. Lawler” and not “Jennifer” or “Jen”) with the subject line “a request.” She knew she was asking a favor, not giving me a wonderful opportunity. She wrote a sentence or two about her forthcoming book, including title and publisher, then asked if I would take a look at a prepublication copy and possibly write a blurb. Then she gave me a longer summary of the book, about a paragraph or so — just like you’d pitch an editor or agent — and asked if I would let her know if I’d be willing to take a look.
So I said yes, and she thanked me, sent a galley and mentioned the deadline by which her published needs the blurb and one day soon (I swear!) I will finish reading the manuscript and will almost certainly offer a blurb.
So that is a textbook example of how you should approach people you don’t know to ask them to give your book a blurb (or really to do any favor for you).
An even better discussion of blurbing can be found on Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted’s blog here.