[DWJ] author flirting

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Wed Jan 28 11:05:15 EST 2009

On Wed, 28 Jan 2009, Farah Mendlesohn wrote:

> 2009/1/28 Gili Bar-Hillel <gbhillel at netvision.net.il>
>> I don't think the phrase was meant pejoratively,
> Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what was meant. Accusing people of giving
> quotations on the basis of friendship (or good reviews for the same reason)
> is a particularly unpleasant way to attack an author or a reviewer, and
> crops up quite regularly.

I think it was not only not meant pejoratively, but was a rather
sweet way to describe the relationship between two people who
seem to enjoy one another's books. The less well-intentioned can
use anything as a weapon. Given that people in the publishing
community often refer to people who give a lot of blurbs as "blurb
whores", I think the affectionate reference to "flirting" is
really not something to worry about.

The people who are willing to give all a lot of blurbs -- people
like DWJ and Tamora Pierce -- are really caught in a bind.
Either we believe that they are happy to give blurbs out of
friendship, or we believe that in a lot of cases they have fairly
poor taste in books. Honestly, I've seen DWJ blurbs on some
books I find really wanting (and as a reviewer, that traumatized me
for a long time, until I realized that just because she liked the
book doesn't mean I need to like the book).

The author blurbs are worth what they are worth. As a general
rule, I find them useful primarily because they tell me which
groups of readers the publisher thought would want to get pointed
to this book, which tell me a little bit more about whether they
think I'm an implied reader of the text. If you look at the
author blurbs on the back of Little Brother, you can definitely
see that the publishers aren't aiming  that form of marketing at
the young adult science fiction market. Which is fine, it doesn't
mean that young adult science fiction readers aren't the implied
audience, but it does mean the publishers think fans of all of
those blurbers will also love the book. It's useful information,
whether or not I agree with the author's assessment. And I've
learned not to trust the assessment of any author, including
authors I love, such as DWJ.

Glory be to God for dappled things 	-- G. M. Hopkins

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