Friday, April 27, 2007

The Power of Blurbs: Use Them Correctly

In a column in Sunday's Times Book Review, Henry Alford criticizes the inappropriate use of blurbs. He cites as an example a Random House advertisement for Charles Frazier's novel Thirteen Moons. They quoted a Lev Grossman review in Time magazine: "Genius." That was it.

Too bad. Now Alford didn't like the excerpt because it was misleadingly taken from a much longer quote: "Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details." Now, from reading the full quote, you can see how using the simple word GENIUS is clearly misleading.

But what saddens me is that the full quote is a much more powerful testimonial for the book than the one-word misquote -- or as Alford calls it, a misblurb.

Random's excuse: "We were being very short and punchy. We have limited space."

A sad commentary on their understanding of good sales copy. Genius is a boring word by itself. In the context of the actual quote, it blazes. Too bad they didn't use the full quote. I'd have bought the novel based on that quote. Never would have touched the novel based on GENIUS. It doesn't say anything. Blah.

How are you using your testimonials? Be sure to use the best copy. Don't sell the blurb short.
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