How to get great blurbs for your book

Marketing matters: sharing some of my experiences in seeking out reviews and blurbs

Shawn Seah

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Marketing matters: blurbs on my book, My Father’s Kampung. Source: Shawn Seah and World Scientific.

Many people think of a blurb as a summary at the back of a book. But blurbs also refer to testimonials, endorsements, and praises (which may also end up at the back of a book). They are an important part of marketing: they help attract attention, signal credibility, and convince readers.

Some people think blurbs are “good to have”, but I respectfully differ. Today, with millions of books published each year, leading to incredibly stiff competition, authors must ensure their books stand out. Having great blurbs is one way of doing so.

To help authors (especially new ones, but even experienced authors might need reminders), I have written some pointers that I think will be useful and helpful:

  • Tap into your contacts. Who do you know writes about similar topics or themes? They would be your first port of call. If you need more help reaching out, ask your contacts to make introductions for you to reach out. Having said that, I am thankful to have made many friends over the years and built up connections and friendships with people. Usually, if you have built up a fairly strong connection, people would be more willing to help you.
  • List down all the authors and publications who can provide blurbs. Listing them down will help you decide who to approach and plan your emails. Usually out of five people you approach, about two or three (around 50%) will respond positively. If you are lucky, or have chosen your blurbers correctly, four out of five (80%) will respond. The next step is actually the hardest.
  • Ask them. These two words are easy to write, but not easy to do. As a Singaporean author, I feel paiseh (embarrassed). Every time I have to trouble very busy people to help me, I feel paiseh. But if you never ask, you never know. Write to them and politely ask them if they would like to review your manuscript and give you a blurb.
  • Show relevance to their areas of interest. When you write to them, explain how your book is related to their areas of interest. Highlight a few chapters or paragraphs that they would be interested in. Or better still, if you have cited or quoted them, you…

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Shawn Seah

Singaporean writer and public speaker, passionate about education, social issues, and local history and community stories.