Friday, July 6, 2012

Blurbs... Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Blurb. What a stupid word. Recently, Thriller Guy was forced to think about blurbs, which he never reads before reviewing a book. But in this instance a couple of them struck his eye after finishing a book he really disliked. TG hates reviewing bad books, but it comes with the territory. So after reading the bad book, (TG can’t say the name, contractually he can’t discuss books in this blog that he reviews) he actually read the blurbs to see what others had to say. Among those who raved about this book were Lee Child and Joe Finder. Reading these laudatory words by Child and Finder left TG with a sick feeling. (You never knew TG was so delicate, did you?)  Why did these fellows give what was a patently a bad book great blurbs? Of course one can never know, and as TG is forever telling his wife, one never knows what goes on behind closed doors, but TG thinks the answer is… because Child and Finder are known as some of the nicest guys in the publishing business.

TG doesn’t know Child beyond what he reads in the trades, (Lee Child is One of the Nicest Guys in Publishing!) and he has given a few Reacher novels excellent reviews, (because the Reacher books are excellent books) but he has reviewed Finder and interviewed him and found him maybe the second nicest guy in the business. (Maybe the first, TG will let the two of them fight that one out.) The thing is, neither of them should have given this book a rave. TG wonders if they even read it. And if so, how can they square the rave with what was the obvious crappy quality? These are smart guys, guys know what’s good and what’s shit.

Yes, yes, TG understands that blurbs are just part of the business and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Stephen King (a man who blurbs to the point that no one takes him seriously, blurbwise, any more) said recently that Robert Parker (now conveniently dead) said, “Never blurb a book you’ve read, and never read a book you’ve blurbed.” This is probably good advice for writers, but little help to book buyers who are standing in a bookstore holding a book, reading the blurbs from their favorite writers and deciding whether or not to buy.

In this case, the case of the crappy book, the woman writer was good-looking, sort of famous and undoubtedly a sterling individual who everyone in the industry thinks is a really great person, but, seriously, dudes, that’s no reason to give her a rave blurb. Trust me, the book was embarrassing to read.

TG has blurbed some books, but he only did so after reading them and liking them. Some of TG’s books have been blurbed, but only by running cut lines from good reviews. And TG knows the business, oh how he knows the business, knows the insular elements, the us-against-them attitude that makes authors circle the wagons and band together to fight for the written word, but really, guys, this is no excuse.

I guess this entry will piss these guys off. Not that they read the Thriller Guy. And pissing them off means the next time TG publishes a book he’d better not ask them for a blurb. You know what? To hell with it. The book sucked. And they carved away some of their honesty, sincerity, intelligence and good will when they said it was great.

Just bein’ honest, guys. Keepin’ it real.

Blurb. What a stupid word.