A word about Blurbs

22, February,2008

Justine Larbalestier, a sterling, award winning, Australian YA fantasy author (another author I haven’t read but who’s blog I follow) posted a guide to blurb etiquette on her blog. http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/?p=1020 

It got me wondering – what if book blurbs followed the same rules of accuracy as say, a Murdoch tabloid.  

This book is a farce comparable to the Hitler diaries, the unashamed plagiarism of Lord of the Rings by Mr Millionwords will have Tolkien lovers banging at his publishers door. That this book was even published is at best a scandal.

 “Another example of a  sharletan writer that publishers need to watch out for.”

Compared to this the telephone book is an excellent read.” 

As I read this I imagined my fingers gripping the author’s throat !.” 

The best I can say, is it’s not quite worst book I have ever read.”

 In all good conscious I could not recommend this book to anyone.  If it was a dog you would beg the vet to put it down.”  

I would rather have my eyes poked out by burning sticks, my legs peeled with a cheese grater and my head stuck in a bull-ant nest than read another word of this steaming great heap of puss infected dung.”     

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“A book of fairy tales created, handwritten and illustrated by J.K. Rowling sold for nearly $4 million at auction Thursday.” The money is going to a charity she set up. 

“The Children’s Voice campaigns for children’s rights across Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, where many children and teenagers grow up in institutions, often in what many activists regard as unacceptable conditions.”

Has a writer’s beliefs / lifestyle / opinion, influenced your decision to purchase a book (positive stories are allowed)?  What line would they have to cross before you walked away from them? 

Why I ask is due to a couple of podcasts I’ve listened to lately. Recently, on Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, the author Terry Goodkind was interviewed I like a ripping yarn, and the few books I’ve read of Terry’s definitely fall into that category.  In the second half of the interview he was asked why he thought fiction was in decline, which devolved into an exposition by Goodkind on Objectivism. 

Objectivism is (according to my very biased view) a philosophy where greed is not only good but heroic.  Obviously, there is more to it than this and it has many adherents in the U.S. – particularly in the libertarian, hill billy militias (Damn!  Sorry my bias momentarily got the better of me again).  If you want a more informed view you can look it up in wikipedia. 

Right or wrong it’s a philosophy that I (obviously) have real problems with, and it definitely colours the way I think of Goodkind as a person.  I like his books but knowing a bit more about the author will probably lessen my enjoyment of them. 

By way of comparison have a listen to the interview he did on the Dragon Page, Cover to cover where the issue wasn’t mentioned.

Another podcast was an interview with Howard Jacobson on the Bat Segundo Podcast.  He is a forthright author with some strong views on Jewishness and Zionism.  An interesting interview but I don’t think I’d like to have around for dinner.

 So my fellow readers what would make you walk away?
Are the author and the story totally separate beasts?
Do we applaud their willingness to openly stand by their beliefs, or would we prefer not to hear it if it interferes with us enjoying the story? 

To any published writers – without giving anything away, are there areas you steer clear of in interviews, or have been advised to steer clear of? 

To any involved in publishing what advice would you give a prospective author? Are their no go zones?