I’m no Gary Shteyngart, but I’m not entirely without experience when it comes to “blurbing” other authors’ books. (“Blurbs,” as you likely know, are the brief endorsements that authors and publishers seek pre-publication to help garner interest in and enthusiasm for new books.)
Last week I had the great pleasure of attending a reading by Susan Kushner Resnick. Sue read from her latest book, You Saved Me, Too: What a Holocaust Survivor Taught Me About Living, Dying, Loving, Fighting and Swearing in Yiddish. I was eager to meet Sue and hear her read from the book, in part because we’d had some nice exchanges over email stemming from Sue’s request that I blurb it.
Sue has given me permission to share with you that initial request. So if you want to see how one author got someone (me) to blurb her book, please read on!
Subject: From [NAME OF COMMON ACQUAINTANCE REDACTED]
[COMMON ACQUAINTANCE] gave me your email address, but I’ve admired you for a while and had planned to write you this most uncomfortable email for weeks. I kept putting it off, until I noticed that you support Blue Card. So maybe, maybe, you’ll agree to support a book I’ve written about what happens when Blue Card isn’t around.
Ok, my memoir is about more than that, but a big chunk focuses on my struggle to get a mentally ill Holocaust survivor into a Jewish nursing home and my vast disappointment when the mainstream Jewish community in Boston refuses to help. It’s also about meeting a stranger and having him become a soul mate, making peace with feeling like a bad Jew, talking back to God and searching for kindness.
You Saved Me, Too: What a Holocaust Survivor Taught Me About Living, Dying, Loving, Fighting and Swearing in Yiddish will be published by Globe Pequot Press in November. Would you consider reading a galley and giving me a blurb if you like what you read? The galleys are available now and the blurb isn’t needed until July.
A little about me: This will be my third published book, second memoir. The first, Sleepless Days, was about my experience with postpartum depression. My narrative nonfiction book, Goodbye Wifes and Daughters, is the story of a 1943 coal mine disaster told from the women’s points of view.
Thanks in advance for considering. I’m happy to send you an excerpt if you want.
Take good care,
Susan Kushner Resnick
So, what “worked” here?
All these months later, you can find my blurb excerpted on the book’s Amazon page. (At the bookstore reading last week, I saw a finished copy, so I can tell you that far more illustrious blurbers, plus segments of the book’s starred Publishers Weekly and Kirkus reviews, appear on the jacket.)
But if you’re curious, here’s the full text of the blurb I supplied.
“This book will make you uncomfortable. It’s not simply the horror of what Aron Lieb, who died at 91 in 2011, endured during the Holocaust. That story, or some variation of it, you probably know already. But the struggle to ensure that Aron’s end-of-life days would be comfortable, dignified, and above all companioned–that’s a lesser-known tale of survivor experience. That is Susan Kushner Resnick’s key contribution–to the literature, and to Aron’s life.”