How’s that for a clever subject header?

On her blog, Justine Larbalestier talked a bit about blurbs, how she got hers, whether they matter, and how much people should fret over them (her conclusion: not at all). I was going to post a comment about the process of getting blurbs for Child of Fire but I thought I’d post it here instead, especially since the story features a moment of deep, personal humiliation for me.

Justine says she got all her blurbs herself, but it was my editor who got the one from Jim Butcher, and good thing, too, because a number of people have read the book because of it. Me, I’m surprised by this–I never read a book based on a blurb. I don’t know why, but I don’t. I don’t listen to music much either, so what can I say? On some things, I’m an outlier, apparently.

My editor also got the Rob Thurman blurb, but the others (on the book) came about because I asked the authors personally, and my god how I fretted over those emails.

Here’s the embarrassing story: For those who don’t know, one of the blurbs on the back cover came from a screenwriter named Terry Rossio. He’s written the Johnny Depp Pirate movies, ALADDIN, MASK OF ZORRO, and many other films, usually with his writing partner Ted Elliott. I’d spent six years on their (mostly Terry’s, I guess) website learning to write film scripts and arguing story. I don’t hang there any more (which would be a separate post) but I thought it would be great to have a blurb from the writer of POTC on the cover of my book, so I sent an “I don’t think you’ll remember me…” note to Terry, asking him to read and possibly blurb my book.

He did remember me (and he didn’t even mix me up with the other Harry on that board–a much more memorable character than I am–and the result is the quote on the back cover. I do have a .jpg file of the Child of Fire cover with Terry’s quote on the front, but it was bumped when Jim Butcher’s came in at the last moment. I’ll admit that I was a little chagrined. I’ve learned a lot from Terry and I owe him. I’d have liked to have his name right on the front with mine.

But that’s a digression. I also wanted to ask Ted Elliott, Terry’s usual writing partner, for a blurb but I couldn’t find his email anywhere (which I’m sure is how he wants it). He was still listed as a member of a private email list I’m on, although I don’t think he’s posted anything there in years and years, and the Yahoo! software offers a way to send a private message without revealing the person’s address.

I worked hard on that email, maybe a little harder than on the others, solely because he seemed more remote. I thanked him, letting him know how grateful I was for the time he spent online yakking about story with a pack of noobs, and how much it meant to me.

But when I sent it, it didn’t go to him. It went to the entire email list instead. I was mortified by every groveling word. Stupid Yahoo! Stupid self!

Anyway, a lot of the comments I’ve seen about Child of Fire compare it to Jim Butcher’s work, which is reasonable since his name is right there on the front. Some compare it favorably, and quite a few don’t. And while I’m a fan of his books, I don’t think they’re all that similar to mine, for reasons I explain here. And god bless him, this guy agrees and understands. I was sorely tempted to click the “This review was helpful to me” button, but I restrained myself.

Then again, I can picture the way people would have responded if it had been Terry’s name on the cover: “This isn’t like Shrek at all!”