Blurb Blurb Blurb Blurb
Podcasts are variegated beasties. In the children’s publishing field they can range from silly to shop talk. One that I’ve started taking a real shine to is Graphic Novel TK. Don’t let the title fool you. While hosts Alison Wilgus and Gina Gagliano do delve deep into comics on occasion, many of the discussions are pertinent to the larger publishing world. From them I’ve gotten clarification on what a lead title is, the mysterious work people do with sales (and how it all relates to Barnes & Nobles), how editors advocate for their books in-house, and much much more. There was even an episode on blurbs, believe it or not.
Just to clarify terms, a blurb is a positive sentence or two garnered from a famous person and placed on promotional materials, used in-house to advocate for a title, or slapped all over galleys in the hopes of enticing future purchasers. For our book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, Jules and I went a little crazy and asked great huge swaths of authors and artists for kind words. If you scroll down here you can see them.
Now at one point on the blurb episode of Graphic Novel TK, the podcasters discuss what the ultimate blurb “get” might be in the comic world. The more elusive the creator, the greater the bragging rights. A Neil Gaiman blurb gets you credit. Alan Moore gets you more. The holy grail of blurbs? Bill Watterson (though I’d settle for a Gary Larson in a pinch).
It got me to thinking about the holy grails of the children’s book world. Who would be your Top Five aspirational blurbees? The five people you’d like to receive blurbs from for your books. They wouldn’t have to work in the children’s book field, necessarily. It would just be neat if they said something nice about your book.
Here are mine:
5. Patton Oswalt – I mean, he has a kid, right? He’s probably done more voiceover work on children’s television and films than most comedians. And he just blurbed an adult GN in 2018 (the amazing Abbott by Saladin Ahmed, which is like Black KKKlansman meets Buffy, only better than I’m describing it here). And comedians are always blurbing children’s books (when they’re not writing them).
4. Tina Fey – Again, has a kid so it’s not an impossible wish. I think she lives in the same apartment complex as R.L. Stine, but he hardly needs her blurbing skills.
3. Malia or Sasha Obama – I’m completely open to either one of them blurbing one of my books. Whatever works with their schedules.
2. That new baby that was just born in England the other day – Being a royal baby you know its book recommendation would be a bit better than “goo”. Maybe “Goo” with a capital G?
1. Peggy Rathmann – Because she’ll always be my Bill Watterson.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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