I was recently asked why blurbs are so central to the marketing of books? Do they really impact sales? Or are they simply an inexpensive form of advocacy that makes everyone feel good but accomplishes little else?
Yes, yes, and, more importantly, yes.
What is a blurb? A blurb is one of those quotes you see on the cover of novels from various other authors or from New York Times, etc.
Blurbs are important to central marketing, especially for an up and coming author, because it adds instant credibility. If you’re in a book store, then odds are you have read books before. Based off that premises, you probably have a favorite genre, and if you have a favorite genre, you probably have a coterie of authors you admire. You have a connection with said authors and you assume they would have similar likes. If you know that an author you like enjoys the work of someone, there’s a good chance that you’ll like it as well.
As a research exercise, I Googled William Faulkner’s name and categorized the results; roughly 25% of websites gathered were of marketing value (Amazon.com, etc). I also asked several people I know how they decide what books to buy, and an overwhelming majority buys books based on word of mouth. As I’ve stated above, this is someone you may not know personally, yet “know” better than some friends or family, giving you a word of mouth endorsement. Depending on the connection you have with a certain author, it may just be what gets you to pull out the debit card.
It is an inexpensive form of advocacy meant to make everyone feel good, but that in itself accomplishes a lot. The publishing business is not a band of shut-ins that crank out books and they magically get printed. An enormous part of publishing is networking. Who do you know and how do you know them? Consider it like high school and you want to be the prom king/queen, whatever; you are not going to get anywhere unless you have friends and people that respect you. By asking another author to blurb your book, you are in no uncertain terms telling them that you respect them; they will remember your name; they may talk about you or your work over cocktails with someone else in the publishing business; that other person may reach out and contact you later. Networking is absolutely vital to your success.