Path to Publication 3.6: Blurbs And Reviews, Incoming
Polis Books will release my debut novel, New Yorked, in June, with the follow-up, City of Rose, slated to follow in 2016. This is a column about taking a book over the finish line.
Let's talk about blurbs.
Asking for blurbs is really awkward.
What you're doing is going to your heroes, people you respect, and you're asking them: "Please take many hours out of your very busy life, read my book, and then say nice things about it that you'll have to stand behind in public."
I've heard a lot of back-and-forth on blurbs, both as an author and as a publisher. Some people feel like they're not terribly effective. I disagree—I think they're a huge help.
I'm proud of the blurbs I got. Insanely proud. Here are some excerpts of what I ended up with:
“The New York of New Yorked is a place of heartbreak and murder that I highly recommend you visit.” —Josh Bazell, author of Beat the Reaper
“One part Dennis Lehane, one part Lee Child, and one part pure Rob Hart.” —Jenny Milchman, author of Cover of Snow and Ruin Falls
“With a deft eye for the dirt under its polished fingernails, Rob Hart finds the rotten core inside today’s Big Apple.” —Todd Robinson, author of The Hard Bounce and editor of Thuglit
“…the literary version of The Warriors.” —Lyndsay Faye, author of The Gods of Gotham
“… New York is a verb, and the chase is on. You won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough.” —Suzy Vitello, author of The Moment Before and The Empress Chronicles
“Clever, witty, full of attitude—but never full of itself—Rob Hart’s debut novel doesn’t waste a syllable…” —David Corbett, author of The Devil’s Redhead and Blood of Paradise
“… Like a sucker punch to the guts before you turn the first page.” —Matthew McBride, author of Frank Sinatra in a Blender and A Swollen Red Sun
It was a terrifying prospect—this is a tough crowd of learned individuals.
What if they didn't like the book?
What if they disliked it so much they passed on saying something about it?
Luckily, nobody passed.
As for the actual process of getting the blurbs, I didn't even wait for the galleys to come in. I printed out the manuscript, had it spiral-bound at FedEx, and sent it out as soon as I finished the first big-picture pass with my editor. I figured it best to give people as much lead time as possible.
The blurbers got it probably two months before the galleys were even available. It was a worthwhile expenditure, because it made me feel slightly less like I was imposing, since I was able to provide a more generous deadline. (And it was a tax deductible expense!).
Reviews are starting to come in!
Publishers Weekly liked the book! They called me edgy, and cited the relentless pacing and strong sense of place. They also dinged me on plot, but you can't win them all. My review was listed in their print edition, which was pretty awesome.
Booklist raved: "There are good action scenes, nice offbeat characters, but what lingers is the swoony dialogue... Noir with a tingle of doomed but sweet romance."
This was a great introduction to Rob Hart. If you haven’t heard about him, it’s time for you to get acquainted with him. You can thank me later.
At this point, you may be thinking, "We get it, you're getting nice reviews and you have some cool friends, now give it a rest, you self-possessed blowhard."
There's a reason I'm over the moon about all of this.
I know this is completely irrational, but after signing with an agent, and then a publisher (in my case, two publishers), it's still easy to feel like you're a fraud. That your book is no good. The crisis of confidence in constant. So that people are responding to the story, that they're enjoying it and talking about it, is incredible.
It's weird to live with this story for so long and suddenly people are putting their own interpretations on it, too. Exciting, but weird.
My favorite assessment came from my mom. I was really afraid of her reading it, for a number of reasons, including the scene where a drag queen pees on a dude. But she did read it, and afterward, of the narrator, she said: "I feel sorry for him."
And that's exactly right. The narrator thinks he's a hero but he's not a hero (yet). I never really thought of it like that, but I do feel bad for him.
For as afraid as I was of this thing being unleashed on the world, I'm really enjoying the outside perspective.
The marketing machine is really gearing up. I'm working on a couple of guest posts for some very exciting blogs (more on that soon). I've sent out the last of my print galleys. The lending library, which I wrote about in the last column, is moving along. The first two readers have gotten through it, and now I'm just waiting to hear from the third (Frankie, let me know what's up!).
The other day I made a to-do list. All the things I want to knock off in the next month and a half before release.
It's a long list, and a little daunting, but I think I can clear it.
The book is available for pre-order at sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, iTunes, Kobo, and Google. Pre-orders help! Also, my book release party is set for June 9 at The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC. There will be booze! Maybe snacks too. But definitely booze. You can RSVP on Facebook, if that's your jam.
Next month, I'll be talking about the development of my cover, which should be a good bit of fun.
And if there's anything else about the publishing process you're curious about, ask away!
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