The next Twilight? That's what she said.
One of the duties of being a book blogger is bracing each day for the avalanche of pitches from publicists touting the next Da Vinci Code, Twilight or other runaway best-seller. Not that all publicists are a pain. On the contrary, I’ve found them to be very helpful arranging author interviews and guest posts, or financing my beach house. But every so often, an annoying letter or e-mail pitch surfaces, such as the recent one that noted — almost apologetically — that the first-time novelist was “a well-known author of statistics textbooks.”
Another publicist recently e-mailed, wondering why I had not yet reviewed a book she had sent. (It was nothing personal, but Read Street receives dozens of books each week, and I’m not drawn to this sort of blood-and-guts thriller.) Her e-mail said: “I realize that you may have read the book, but don’t have time to write a review so I’ve included some mock reviews below that you may find possibly fits how you feel about the book. Feel free to choose one if this helps.” Then she listed 10 plug-and-play blurbs, including phrases such as “Great page-turner,” “Couldn’t put it down," and “#1 Summer Read of 2009.”
Initially, I was incensed that the publicist thought I was not competent enough to write my own cliches. Then I realized that I was looking a gift horse in the mouth, and biting the hand that feeds me. (Which is very hard to do simultaneously.) Here was a way to be freed from the burden of creativity and high-pressure writing on deadline. So I turned back to her list of blurbs, which I had printed out. Unfortunately, they fell to the floor and were all mixed up. I tried to reconstruct them, but they got a bit garbled. Some, unfortunately, seem to read like the subject lines on emails from Nigerians who are seeking investors.
Here’s my best shot: “Don’t even think of page-turning anticipation!” ”Kept me up down.” “Filled with NY Times!” “Couldn’t put it near the water!”
Publicists should feel free to use them as needed.