by Ken Bruen

                           Blurbs might well be the opiate of the writing classes. After all the torture of actually writing a book, finally getting all the vital items in place, i.e.


sympathetic editor/or not

publication date

along comes this hound of heaven, the blurb

I’ve been blessed, I never had to ask, my editor asked for suggestions and I had none so in total wish fulfillment mode, he sent the manuscript out to the big names and I got real lucky

Despite what all the various experts say, if you get a rave from one of the top five, you’re going to get noticed

Then comes the day you never expected, ever, you’re asked for a blurb . . . and you’re thinking, Jesus wept, I’ve arrived, someone, some publisher/agent/author thinks I have clout

Heady stuff

The very first blurb I did, I agonised over, read the book three times and did a mini essay on the book

The author wrote back

"If you didn’t like the book, why didn’t you just say so? . . . "

Then comes the time when your friends hint at a blurb . . . oh sweet hell, so what are you going to do now. . . . simple, read the book and say what you think

simple but deadly

and you just never know what’s going to come down the pike

Cases in point

I blurbed Cornelia Reed’s debut

she was natuurally upset when on amazon, a wanker said I’d obviously never read the book as Jack Taylor would never like it!

Oh lovely payback, Cornelia is nominated for the Edgar and ITW

Donna Moore is a friend of mine, I love her to bits, and make no secret of it, I thought her novel was outstanding and it won the Lefty, right out of the starting gate

a reviewer reviewed my blurb, not the book

I was asked in in an interview last week, why I took seemingly the unheard of step of blurbing Ray Banks twice . . . because I think he’s that singular and they didn’t hear me the first time

and if he wished, I’d blurb his third, because it’s about the writing

Now here’s a simple Irish test, of pure innocence and total innocence . . . if all things were equal . . . yeah, right, dream on, yada yada . . . and if you had to write the blurb for your own book . . . what would you write . . . and lest you go all humble here’s my blurb for my own book . . . ready?

Bruen has all the hallmarks of a poet manque . . . and so lacking that talent, he has taken refuge in mystery, he can’t cut it in literature, he has a voice that trades heavily on Irish-isms and if he were American, he’d be just one more wanna-be

and you were sure I was going to be nice

I dont do nice . . . even in blurbs



21 thoughts on “BLURB-GONE-IT

  1. Evil Kev

    Thank God that we have someone like Ken Bruen.

    His candor and insight on this topic are both refreshing and necessary. Too often it seems authors are too afraid to say anything for fear they may upset someone.

    I remember reading that Amazon review of Ken’s blurb of Cornelia. Speaking up as Ken did here dismisses such mean-spirited comments and shows the kind of person he is; A kind man who doesn’t turn a blind eye to the nasty people who know only how to tear down decent people.

    Intregity is not something that can be turned on and off. You either have it or you don’t. Ken Bruen has it in spades.

  2. Alex Sokoloff

    It is very weird to be being asked for blurbs, now.

    You pose a very scary question – I don’t know if I have the guts to write my own blurb. I’ll have to work up to it in stages. But I really loved a review I got for THE HARROWING that said – “This book shouldn’t work, it’s full of old tropes, even a Ouija board, for God’s sake. But I couldn’t put it down until I finished and then I couldn’t get to sleep because I was afraid I’d have nightmares.”

    If I could write that succintly that’s probably what I would have said about it, myself!

    Of course, a publisher would just cut the first sentence…

  3. Laura

    Laura Lippman is pleasantly tall for a writer, but is, in fact, not even close to being the tallest of female crime writers. Her work is cheerfully derivative, but she’s harmless and not bad company over the course of a novel or a meal.

  4. Elaine Flinn

    I’ve always found you to be good company,Laura -:)

    But I loved – “I don’t do nice – even in blurbs…” Now, Ken, darlin’ boy – how could you – a lad so well liked – even say that? Sounds like terrific Irish Blarney to me… 🙂

  5. Steven Torres

    When my first book came out I made up some blurbs for a bookmark – never used, I should add.

    “So good, I’m rushing home to read it again!” – John Grisham

    was one of them.

    Who’s the tallest female crime writer?

  6. Robert W. Walker

    Thanks Ken for clearing it up so succinctly. Now I can say the two blurbs I’ve had from you are of even more value than ever, although they were always prized highly by yours truly. I’m still bummed out over LIM as I’d worked to get you there and then I had to spend the entire time in hospital. The good news — all my problem as dissolved with the meds, and City of the Absent is on its way, so you can determine what next for Inspector Alastair Ransom.

  7. Jim Winter

    Of all the writers working in crime fiction today, Jim Winter is one of the loudest, whitest, and fattest.

    (Well, OK, that last one is somewhat stretching it, but blurbs are nothing if not laced with hyperbole.)

    Ken Bruen: If Ed McBain were a suicidal poet…

  8. Elaine Flinn

    I was so taken by Ken’s prose – I forgot to add my dream blurb.

    “At last! An antiques dealer sleuth (and author)who knows what the bloody hell she’s talking about.” Jonathan Gash

  9. Donna

    I would just use what my mum said when she read my book “Donna is weird. Weird, weird, weird.” And thank you – I love you to bits too :o)

  10. simon

    I like Steven’s fake blurbs. I’ve been considering collecting all the derogatory, but endearing remarks I’ve been called by booksellers, authors, etc.

  11. toni mcgee causey

    I told an old high school friend of mine last night about my book coming out and she said, “Well good grief, finally, after all the stupid things you made me read when we were in school, you finally wrote something some idiot would publish.”

    I’m not sure I could write one much better than that.

  12. Fran

    If you ever get a chance, you should read the blurbs in Mark Schweitzer’s (hope I’ve spelled that right) liturgical mysteries.

  13. Grace

    Hey, this is Cornelia’s daughter Grace. She’s in New York sans computer, but she called to tell me to say “thank you Ken,” and our whole family loves you. And hi to your daughter Grace from me!P.S. loved your book “the dramatist.”

  14. Lance

    While working at a bookstore there was one blurb that we started noticing on alot of books, “Unputdownable”.

    Doesn’t really help in deciding if a customer would want to read the book or not.

    Great writing Ken.

  15. Con Lehane

    A slight revision on Ken’s blurb of himself …Bruen has all the hallmarks of a poet manque . . . which helps explain the lyricism and terrible beauty of his crime fiction.


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