August 4 – 10: “Are author blurbs over the top?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5This week we join ITW Members John Florio, A. J. Kerns, Charlie Flowers  and Whitley Strieber to discuss what author blurbs. Are they over the top? Are they as effective today as they used to be? You won’t want to miss this!


Battle Come Down  by Charlie FlowersCharlie Flowers was born in Eastern Europe sometime in the late Sixties and arrived with his family in Britain in 1975. After training as a journalist in London he had a varied career as reporter, roadie, truck driver and record label boss. In the late Nineties he formed two cult bands, and is currently an adviser on terrorism and extremism to certain departments and think tanks.
Charlie Flowers is published by Endeavour Press, and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association and International Thriller Writers, Inc. He is author of the “Riz” quartet – “Hard Kill”, “Danger Close”, “Kill Order”, and “Battle Come Down”.

Blind Moon Alley by John FlorioJohn Florio is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in print, on the web, and on television. He is the author of SUGAR POP MOON and BLIND MOON ALLEY—the first two Jersey Leo crime novels—and ONE PUNCH FROM THE PROMISED LAND: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, and the Myth of the Heavyweight Title. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Ouisie Shapiro.

africaArthur Kerns is a retired FBI supervisory special agent and past president of the Arizona chapter of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO). His award-winning short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies. He is a book reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books. In March 2013 Diversion Books, Inc. published his espionage thriller, The Riviera Contract and in May 2014 the sequel, The African Contract.


Alien Hunter--the Underworld by Whitley StrieberWhitley Strieber is the author of many thrillers, among them classics such as the Wolfen and the Hunger, and more recent books like the Grays, which is in development as a movie, and the Alien Hunter series, which is in development as a TV series. His movies are the Wolfen, the Hunger, Communion and the Day After Tomorrow, based on his book Superstorm. His latest thriller, Alien Hunter: Underworld is the second in the Alien Hunter series. It’s not a sequel, but a stand alone book continuing the character of Flynn Carroll,
a police officer who works with an alien police force to apprehend alien criminals on earth.




  1. I’ll kick this one off. To prepare for this question, I went to my bookshelf and toppled down a whole load of old Ian Flemings from the 60s. And I have to say, the answer is no. Some of the hyperbole on the covers of those old books is off the chain!

  2. Regarding blurbs, my experience has been very positive. For my debut novel, I asked three authors I met at a mystery conference for endorsements and all three agreed, which for me was a big plus. I had the same experience for my next novel. Now if you realize the writers had to take time out of their busy schedules to read these books and fire off a blurb, this was impressive.
    Do I believe the blurbs helped in the promotion of my novels? Definitely. Why? I believe the books gained a degree of legitimacy, especially important since they were the works of a new, unknown author.
    Now the question, are some blurbs one reads on the jackets of novels over-the-top? Definitely. However, the average buyer who scans these slap-dash promos takes them for what they’re worth. Space fillers.

  3. Blurbs help, no question. I am asked to do about 200 blurbs a year, and I usually do 20 or 30. I make it a rule that the book has to grab me so hard that I read it through. Otherwise, no blurb.

    Over-the-top blurbs bother me. When I pick up a novel in the bookstore and see a lot of hyperbole, I get wary. Friends help friends. However, a wall of fabulous blurbs will definitely get me reading chapter 1, over the top or not. If the book attracts my interest, I’m liable to be a buyer despite the fact that the author has a lot of famous friends!

    So, in a sense, all blurbs are good as far as I’m concerned–including, and especially, the ones on my books, all from completely unbiased authors, of course. (Or, perhaps not entirely…)

  4. I see blurbs as an important marketing tool, especially for debut (or new) authors. These writers have little to no name-recognition; they can only rely on the endorsement of those who’ve already built an audience.

    As a reader, I usually check to see who has endorsed a new writer, accepting the implied agreement that if I like one, I’ll like the other.

    As a writer, I’ve been lucky. I’ve found writers to be supportive—and more than willing to read and endorse my work. I’m grateful because I believe they’ve helped sales. Plus, I’m proud to have their names on my book jacket.

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