September 3rd, 2013 / 12:46 pm

I Am Sad And Lonely: Notes On Blurbs

The following are my notes for obtaining blurbs, a nearly six-month endeavor, for my novel Daniel Fights a Hurricane. My hope is that this list is a kind of raw/sloppy guide for others reaching out to the same, or similar, authors. Here, maybe, is what to expect.

I’m told my “blurb percentage” was very good. I asked 26 writers and received five blurbs.

A note on my notes: they are messy. When I say “sent personalized letter” it means I wrote a personal letter that Penguin attached to the manuscript sent out. There may be some other stuff that doesn’t make sense but hey, look at what I’m doing here, it’s chaos.

Daniel Handler – Sent personalized letter. No response. No follow-up contact sent. No blurb.

Dave Eggers – Sent personalized letter. No response. No follow-up contact sent. No blurb.

Miranda July – Sent personalized letter. No response. Sent follow-up email three months later to some generic account listed off website. Seemed silly and desperate. No response. No blurb.

Rivka Galchen – Sent personalized letter. No response. Sent two follow-up emails. Said she would try and get to book. No response. No blurb. Saw her on train a few months later and she said she was sorry she couldn’t blurb.

Gordon Lish – Sent personalized letter. No response. Penguin editor reached out, tried to set up some kind of sit-down meeting. Not sure it ever happened. Can’t imagine Lish reading my book without total disgust. No response. No blurb received.

Sam Lipsyte – Sent personalized letter. Sent follow-up email a few months later and received strange email saying he had previously sent me an angry email and apologizing for doing so. Said he would send a blurb. Sent blurb a few weeks later. Blurb received.

Ben Marcus – Sent personalized letter. Penguin editor sent follow-up email. Responded with saying he wanted to read the book but possibly lost it over the summer. Penguin editor sent another copy of the book. I had a story appear on his website and asked if he would blurb. No response received. Editor may have sent another email. No blurb received.

Aimee Bender – Sent personalized letter. No response. Sent follow-up email. Received a nice email three months later apologizing. Informed Bender she still had time. Bender responded with saying she couldn’t do it due to time constraints. I sent “joke email” saying she had until 2013. She wrote back email saying my email made her laugh. No blurb.

Steve Erickson – Sent personalized letter. No response. No follow-up contact sent due to fear he’d send an angry email. Realized I don’t really like Steve Erickson’s books other than Zeroville. No blurb.

Steven Millhauser – Sent personalized letter. No response. Sent follow-up email three months later. Millhauser responded with email saying he decided not to do blurbs in his early twenties. Also said something about how his life doesn’t allow him enough time to do all the writing he wants to do. Felt like an asshole for emailing him. Thanked him for his time. No response. No blurb received.

Lydia Davis – Sent personalized letter. Responded with saying she remembered me from class and was interested and following my “career.” Said she doesn’t have time to do blurbs. Wanted to ask if I could use “I’ve been following his career” as a blurb, but decided not to. Thanked her for her time. No response. No blurb received.

Mark Danielewski – Sent personalized letter. No response. Watched several videos with Danielwski and thought he seemed very arrogant. No follow-up contact sent. No blurb.

Jonathan Lethem – Sent personalized letter. Responded with email saying the book sounded interesting, but he didn’t do blurbs anymore. Went on Amazon and found books he recently blurbed (ex: The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff). Thanked him for his time. Realized I don’t even read Lethem. No response. No blurb.

Jesse Ball – Sent personalized letter. Responded a month later with blurb. Can’t tell from blurb if he actually read and liked the book. Think so? Blurb received.

Donald Antrim – Sent personalized letter. No response. Editor sent a follow-up but received no response. No blurb.

Thomas Pynchon – Sent personalized letter via agent/wife Melanie Jackson. Felt insane for doing so. Asked her permission to send a copy of my book. No response. No blurb.

Trinie Dalton – Sent personalized email. Responded with interest. Sent one of my four advance copies priority mail. Sent follow up email. Responded she had received the book. Didn’t hear anything for over a month. Sent follow-up email. Said she was now in Vermont and didn’t read the book. No blurb.

Blake Butler – Sent personalized email. Agreed to blurb having read a version of the book earlier. Blurb received a few weeks later.

Chris Adrian – Old email has him listed as a potential blurber. Didn’t send a personalized letter but did send a follow up email. Not sure if Chris Adrian is real or not. No response. No blurb.

Brian Evenson – Sent personalized FB message. Said he had a lot going on but would try to read it. Sent follow-up email. Said he would blurb but to remind him. Sent reminder email. Blurb received shortly after.

Sheila Heti – Editor sent personalized email. Said she wanted to read the book. No response. Sent her personalized “funny” email: “Hope you received my book and like it. If you don’t like my book pretend this email never existed!” No response. No blurb.

Jonathan Safran Foer – Kind of a joke. Editor said she passed a copy along through his editor asking for a possible blurb. Imagined Foer gently tossing galley into a $200 Simple Human garbage can in Brooklyn brownstone. No response. No blurb.

Yannick Murphy – Editor sent personalized email. Responded by saying she was “bad at blurbs” but would try. No response. Sent personalized email. Wrote back saying she was too busy with getting her teaching certificate and apologized. No blurb.

Eileen Myles – Editor said she was going to reach out to Myles. Not sure what happened with this one. Sent Myles a FB friend request and she denied it. No blurb.

Kelly Link – Sent personalized “message” via a friend of hers and mine. Friend said she was busy, but would try and get to it. No response. Sent personalized email to Link. No response. No blurb.

Kevin Wilson – Sent personalized email. Showed extreme interest. Wrote to editor he would send blurb by January 16. Sent blurb before deadline. Blurb received.


  1. bemightee

      man this is disheartening. halfway through ‘selfishness reigns supreme’ started ringing in my head.not on your part but on those who didn’t even deign to respond.

  2. lorian long

      lol this is ballsy and great

  3. deadgod

      deadgod — Did not send either personalized or form letter. Did not send email. Made no effort to learn mailing or email addresses; made no effort to contact in any way. Preblurb received via internet comment thread: “Pretty sure I’ll at least start this book some day. If I like it, I’ll talk it up in conversations where that would be relevant.”

  4. A D Jameson

      deadgod, don’t fib. I know you’re Jonathan Safran Foer.

  5. A D Jameson

      Elmore Leonard – Sent registered letter with insurance and delivery confirmation to his Detroit compound estate. Enclosed a bullet bearing teeth marks so he’d know that I was serious. No response. No blurb.

      Seamus Heaney – Sent a seventeen-thousand-word email in which I stressed my affection for Old English poetry, and itemized the ways in which my book alludes to the classics of Irish lit. Felt a bit crazed and mentioned that offhandedly in the letter. No response. No blurb.

      Am starting to think that authors are all assholes.

  6. deadgod

      These motherfuckers.

      Try Updike–I hear he can be a pretty sweet guy.

  7. deadgod

      Nope. No herbifoer here.

  8. A D Jameson

      He’s #7 on my list, after Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Vance, Roger Ebert, Chinua Achebe, Gore Vidal, and Frederik Pohl.

  9. Frank Rodriguez

      Really? I imagine these famous authors are very busy. And SJ admits to not even being fans of some.

  10. deadgod

      No wimmin?


  11. A D Jameson

      Huh. I was so sure.

      Incidentally, I found a mysterious key and have been wandering all over the five boroughs, looking for you.

  12. A D Jameson

      Jan Berenstain is #8.

  13. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Your Lydia and Aimee stories are my favorites.

  14. Jeremy Hopkins

      Dear [deadgod],
      Could you blurb my disqus account?

  15. Weeatherhead

      I’ve actually wondered a lot about how this works. Elucidating. Thank you.

  16. deadgod

      I’ve read at least some of Jeremy Hopkins’s disqus comments. I don’t remember him ever bickering with me. Is that a recommendation?

  17. mimi

      me next deaders, pleeeeze

      : )

  18. mimi

      thus the bearsuit fetish eh?

  19. mimi

      no wait, I’M the one with the bearsuit fetish

  20. Jeremy Hopkins

      While I greatly appreciate you taking the time, I feel I should inform you I was hoping for something less literal, less factual.




  22. deadgod

      While I greatly appreciate Jeremy Hopkins taking the time, I feel I should inform the reader I was hoping for something less literal, less factual.

  23. deadgod

      mimi’s comments are a farrago of words and the spaces between words.

  24. deadgod

      Listening hard, that’s what I call going silent.

      –Samuel Beckett

  25. mimi
  26. Matt Rowan

      Chris Adrian was busy doing surgeries.

  27. deadgod

      Seth Abramson was suing somebody for ‘misuse of poetic license’.

  28. bemightee

      Yeah I see what you mean. I guess I meant not so much in the case of Lethem or Davis who no doubt get asked to blurb stuff all the time ( and according to this they both responded) but of those others who are less well-known and didn’t even take the time to say ‘sorry can’t do it’. I just got the feeling that it was kinda snobbish you know? Climb to the top and pull the ladder up behind you kinda thing. Of course it could be argued that professional authors have more time than someone who’s still having to hold down a day job etc.

  29. markbaumer

      If I have learned anything in life it’s that Brian Evenson is the blurb king and that Lydia Davis likes quiche.

  30. reynard

      i know a guy who went to preschool with lydia davis’s son, he might be able to get you some of her hair

  31. Jeremy Hopkins

      Should do in a pynch.
      “RIYDL deadgod”

  32. Claire Zulkey

      Even though it’s rude never to respond, I’ve found that professionally I prefer a non-response to someone who says they will and then disappear.

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  34. rawbbie

      I’d say “fuck the haters” but they don’t even hate you. I will say I wrote you a fan mail right after I read Daniel and you wrote me right back and you emailed me a story that first pubbed as a Mud Lucius Chap and for that you are awesome.

  35. Richard Grayson

      Who’d stoop to blame this sort of trifling?

  36. elias tezapsidis

      i would buy any book w a lydia davis “I’ve been following his career” blurp. you should have done it.

      also, dope blurp disclosure.

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