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March 29th, 2006, 05:31 PM
Yes, its GhostShell again, you shall never be rid of me, Bwahahahah!!
Deep breaths, chris, deep breaths.

Okay enough of my psychosis this is a thread that is exactly what it says on the tin (wouldn't it be nice if more things in life were like this?).

To what extent do we trust Maggie Furey when she makes a comment about another writer's work for the novel's cover.

Do we trust Tad Williams when he verbly pats another author on the back or Stephen Donaldson when he tells you why you should read the novel.

More importantly: why do we trust them? And how often is that trust justified by what you find inside the cover?

:confused: :confused: :confused:

So what do you think?

March 29th, 2006, 07:13 PM
I don't think the question is so much about trusting the author who made the comment as it is trusting the publisher to keep it in the proper context. Obviously if a review of the book contains positive and negative points, the publisher will want to draw the potential reader's attention to the positive comment and quote only that.

I suppose you have to wonder how much return back-scratching goes on though. It wouldn't surprise me if this is the case under some circumstances. As a reader though, I learned long ago not to put much weight on the praise for the author at the beginning of the book. If the book is good - I'll know pretty quickly.

March 30th, 2006, 03:11 AM
I think these days a publisher would be very foolish to put a quote from an author on the back of another author's book, without the said author being 100% behind the quote (hope that makes sense)

Anyway it is a personal opinion in the end isn't it? What they like I might not like and so forth...

James Barclay
March 30th, 2006, 03:33 AM
With a couple of exceptions, I think we should be giving the author who gives the quote the benefit of the doubt. No author wants to affect their reputation by providing quotes for books in which they don't believe.

In my relatively short career, I've been asked to provide quotes on three books. Two I turned down because I read them and did not believe in them enough to write a quote.

Quotes from authors can be a powerful selling tool and that means an author has to accept responsibility for the quote they give, not just fire and forget. Readers do buy books based on quotes given by their favourites. I for one want to be able to stand up and say 'yes, I read it and loved it and that is why I gave the quote. It has nothing to do with publisher or self-publicity pressure whatever.'

So far, I can... long may it continue. :)


March 30th, 2006, 04:41 AM
I think there was only one book that I bought on an author's quote: J.K. Rowling said that The Little White Horse was one of her favourite books as a child because it had so many descriptions of food, and I like descriptions of food as well, so I decided to take a chance. The cover was also quite pretty, which just goes to show that covers do matter.

Sometimes authors' quotes pushes the book in its favour, depending on who said what. If it is an author I like and/or respect, I'll certainly think twice about what is said. The quote has to be something more than a general, vague comment that could be said about any book; it needs to sound like the author means it. Most books I see with comments are by authors I don't know, or say something that has no impact on me whatsoever.

March 30th, 2006, 10:18 AM

Most of the time when I read the cover of a book, I'm looking for information more than recommendation. What can I expect out of this story? What is it compared to? Sometimes it's hard to get much out of, "One of the brightest new writing stars in the universe, save this book, it may be a collectors edition someday." (Yes, I exaggerate:) )

I'm still waiting to see, "Read this book, it's better than anything I've ever written."


March 30th, 2006, 11:55 AM
More importantly: why do we trust them? And how often is that trust justified by what you find inside the cover?

It depends on who is saying it and what they say. For instance, if a book has an Orson Scott Card praise blurb on it, even though I have enjoyed some of his work, it's not going to make me buy the book.

On the other hand, when I saw a Neil Gaiman praise blurb on Perdido Street Station, it made more of an impression on me.

I think that this has to do not just with the writers' work but with their interests as well. From what I have read from Card other than his fiction (e.g., his website, his books on writing, etc.), he and I do not share many literary tastes, but from what I have read from Gaiman other than his fiction, he and I do share many literary tastes (for instance, he too is a fan of the now out-of-print children's fantasy Timothy and the Two Witches by Margaret Storey). As a result, if Neil likes it, I think that there's a good chance I'll like it as well. Perdido Street Station confirms this, as I really enjoyed it.

I think that a writer's work does factor into the weight I give a blurb, but it really has to be a strong personal preference, such as Gaiman or Ray Bradbury. I have enjoyed some of Stephen King's work, but not so much that if I see him praise another author I will buy that other author's work.

A blurb by itself won't make me buy a book, but it can definitely factor into my purchase decision.

March 30th, 2006, 12:54 PM
Well this topic has come up before, but the way you phrased it was nice. :)

Publishers can't pressure authors to give blurb quotes. This is especially the case because the bigger the name author, the better for a quote, and the publisher has little leverage with bestselling authors to make them praise somebody else if they don't want to.

Authors read other authors' works because they want to, and because they feel a sort of obligation to help other authors out as they've been helped. (Again, the fiction writing community is much more symbiotic than competitive usually.) If they don't like a book, they don't provide a quote. If they've given a quote and it's there on the cover, you can be sure that they did like the book and are sincerely giving the quote and want other people to discover this author's work. Almost always, the author giving the quote is a bigger name than the person getting the quote, so mutual backscratching is not really occurring. Some authors are known to give a lot of cover quotes. This isn't because they are publicity addicts, but rather that they feel there are a lot of good books out there and are more inclined to give those authors they feel deserve it as much of a leg up as possible.

A publisher seeks out big name authors who are pals of the author or who do similar sorts of work to the author. We then tend to believe that if an author we like says he likes an author doing sort of the same type of story, then odds are we'll like this new author too. It's word-of-mouth, just put in print on the cover. It's the same thing as when interviewed authors are inevitably asked what other novels they like and think are good, or when we ask other members here for suggestions of what to read. People are curious, and the blurb quote is at least a possible guide, a recommendation.

Sometimes, as Banger discovered, we find that an author we like doesn't really have the same tastes as us, or thinks more of a work than we do. That's not a betrayal of trust, but a difference of opinion. It's no different than if a friend recommended a book, or a reviewer we liked gave a good review, and we read it and didn't like it.

Cover quotes are one of the nicer forms of publicity, and one of the few publishers will try to do on a regular basis, if they remember to do it in time to meet the art production deadlines. It's a lot of work for authors to do a quote -- though they get a free book out of it -- and in the sff genres, it's helped up and coming authors a great deal.

March 30th, 2006, 04:57 PM
It depends on who is saying it and what they say. For instance, if a book has an Orson Scott Card praise blurb on it, even though I have enjoyed some of his work, it's not going to make me buy the book.

On the other hand, when I saw a Neil Gaiman praise blurb on Perdido Street Station, it made more of an impression on me.

I'd go along with that, part of the reason I picked up NOM/James's work is because he had a David Gemmell quote on the front. I don't think it's always a factor but I have picked up a few gems based on author quotes - Steven Pressfields Gates of Fire is one that springs to mind.

It is curious though, if an author knows lots of other authors does that help them get 'better/more recognisable' quotes and thus increase sales?

March 30th, 2006, 05:37 PM
So what i'm getting is that its a factor depending on who the writer (making the quote) is to you. Makes sense.

I don't remember gemmel on Nom/James' books, is it on the newer covers?

This actually reminds me of something.So:

(1) Do you judge a book by its cover? The colours or picture or style of text on the cover.
(2)How do you decide whether to pick up a book or not.

Me ans: I tent to judge colours sometimes, i must admit, if its a sickly cover (and i have spotted a few) i most likely won't get it, it gives me an opinion about the tone of the book.

Generally though i'll spend a good while in a book story and have a look, reading blurb and then some of the writing to see how the style is, it has served me well so far.

What about everyone else?