Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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The dark side of blurbs.

I read a book recently* that I should have adored. It had a great cover, an interesting premise, and blurbs by several authors that I idolized and trusted. If they were endorsing it, it should have been amazing.

It is currently at the head of my short list for "worst book I read in 2012." I want those hours of my life back.

It wasn't offensive; it didn't call me names or slap my hands or steal my shit. It wasn't poorly written, although it had some pacing issues; the words were in the right order and generally spelled correctly. I can't in all good conscience call it a bad book. But I hated it. Absolutely, empirically, and with very few caveats. It was not my cup of tea. It wasn't even in my cup of tea's time zone. So why did I pick it up?

The blurbs. They made me think this book and I would get along, thus projecting one of the Geek Fallacies onto an innocent piece of prose. Friendship is not transitive, and neither is readability.

This is the dark side of blurbs: this is why authors sometimes have to say "no," even if they like another author's work. Because when I put my name on the cover of a book, I am saying "I like this, and if you like the things I like, you will like it, too." But what happens when you don't? Suddenly everything else I like is questionable. What if Diet Dr Pepper, Monster High dolls, and carnage are all waiting to betray you, too? Where is the line?

We have to be careful. We are trading on your faith, and our reputations.

Have you ever read a book based on the blurbs, only to find your faith in the authors who provided them somewhat shaken? Not your faith in the author who wrote the book—presumably, if you bought it based on blurbs, you didn't have any—but your faith in the blurbers?

(*No, I will not name the book. Why? Well, one, I am not in the business of bad book reviews, unless it's a non-fiction book riddled with factual errors. Other people obviously enjoyed this book, otherwise the blurbs wouldn't have been there in the first place. Your mileage may vary, and all. And two, as an author, I wouldn't want to find someone ranting about one of my books like this. So since the book didn't murder my puppies, I will not name it.)
Tags: cranky blonde is cranky, reading things
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