Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Blurbs

Do you take them seriously?  Do you assume that someone who writes a blurb on the back of a history book has read the entire book?  Kevin Levin reflects on these questions at Civil War Memory.  Here is a taste:

I have a better sense of what goes on having recently written my first book blurb. The University Press of Kentucky, which published my book, asked if I would write a brief blurb for a collection of essays on the Civil War in popular culture and memory. The instructions were pretty straightforward: write a few sentences that can be used for advertising purposes. They asked that I complete the assignment in roughly six weeks and in exchange promised to send a complimentary copy of the book. I read more than half of the essays and skimmed the rest to get a sense of the book’s scope and the quality of the individual chapters.  I felt comfortable with what I wrote.
My guess is that most book blurbs happen at this late stage in the publishing process so it’s probably not a stretch to suggest that authors don’t always have the time to review the manuscript in its entirety. That probably shouldn’t matter much.