Monday, August 17, 2015

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye...

I can't keep up with this blog anymore - sorry!

I'll see you on my new website, and as usual on Twitter and such. The website will include an area for new releases - and if there's something I simply HAVE to talk about, I'll put it up there as well.

I'm leaving the old blog posts up for archive purposes. The most popular posts by far are:

WordCount Dracula - my most popular post, all about word counts for PB through YA, written specifically so that I would never have to talk to anyone about this topic again but could just point them this way!

The Big Ol' Genre Glossary

What To Do When You Get An Offer of Rep

An EPIC Post about the Submission Process (from an Agent's POV)

Real Talk about Six Figure Book Deals $$$

What's the Deal with Option Clauses?

What on Earth are Subsidiary Rights?

And there's lots of other good stuff in the archives, too. Enjoy, and I hope to see you all around the web! 

xo Jenn

Monday, May 25, 2015

SIX BY SONDHEIM for writers

The other day I watched the terrific documentary SIX BY SONDHEIM. (available streaming on HBO-Go, or on Amazon or iTunes.) It's part biography, part show-biz history, following Sondheim's career guided by six important songs in his life. It's excellent, and I was particularly struck by how many nuggets of wisdom I found, profound insights into not just Sondheim's creative process, but a creative life in general. Though he is writing musicals, obviously, I think that much of this is applicable to novelists as well. Just replace "put on a show" with "publish." You should watch the doccy yourself because I can't do it justice... but I can provide six things that I found worth remembering:

1) On "writing what you know":  "Part of the author is always in what he writes, and partly [it's] a work of imagination. It's like what Faulkner said about Observation, Imagination and Experience - you can do without one of them, but you can't do without two."

Sondheim was paraphrasing Faulkner, but yeah. This is good advice. You may not have lived something yourself, but if you have good observation and imagination skills, you can still bring it alive on the page.

2) On harsh reality: At 15, he showed Oscar Hammerstein something he'd written.... Oscar was nice about it, but Stephen said he wanted to get REAL feedback, just like he would rate it against something professional. (Young Stephen thought his own work was terrific, and was pretty sure he was about to be the first 15 year old with a Broadway show.)

Oscar said,"Oh well in that case, this is the worst thing I've ever read." Sounds pretty harsh, but Oscar then went on to show young Stephen point-by-point how his work was failing, and Stephen had to agree. Awkward! But a learning moment. You may not want to hear that your work isn't good enough - but if you are submitting to agents and editors for publication, they will expect your work to be on par with that of a professional.

And even excellent professionals get a LOT of stinging rejections!

3) On imitation: "One of the things he [Oscar] told me to do was not to imitate him. 'If you write what you feel it will come out true. If you write what I feel, it will come out false. Write for yourself and you'll be 90% ahead of everyone else.'"

4) On learning to write: "You can't learn in a classroom and you can't learn on paper. You can only learn by writing and doing. Writing and doing. A friend says 'write something, put it on. Write something, put it on.' -- well, you can't always put it on, but that's the only way to do it. That's how everyone who's ever been good got good."

5) On failure: "I experienced real failure when I did I Hear a Waltz... we thought, well, this'll be an easy job and we'll make a quick buck. Those are reasons never to write a musical.

It was a respectable show. It was not lambasted by the critics. It was politely received by critics, and politely received by audiences, and had no passion, and no blood, and no reason to be. And I learned from that, the only reason to write is from love. You must not write because you think it's going to be a hit or because it's expedient, or anything like that. It's so difficult to write, it's so difficult to put on a show, that if you have the privilege of being able to write it, write it out of passion

That's what failure taught me." 

6) PROTIP: "I work entirely with Blackwing pencils for a number of reasons. One is, it's very soft lead, and therefore wears down very quickly, so you can spend lots of time resharpening. Which is a lot easier and more fun than writing." ;-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Bologna Children's Book Fair

Entrance. This year's theme is Alice.
I'm in Bologna, Italy at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Many folks on twitter have asked about the fair, especially as so many agents attend and tweet about it! -- so I thought I'd do a little post about what the heck goes on here.

First of all, there is the show floor - if you've ever been to a trade show like ALA or BEA you'll be familiar with the sight of row after row of booths filled with books from every publisher in the US. The difference with Bologna is, there are not only booths for every publisher in America... there are booths for every publisher in the entire world. Publishers get a chance to look at the best of the best, so that they might "buy in" books from other countries to add to their own lists. It's truly amazing and inspiring to see what is being published elsewhere.
Costumed characters must've been boiling!

Also, as with any convention center, you get the assorted giant characters wandering around, weird giveaways and photo ops, lousy food, temperatures that range from oven-blasting heat to ice cold in the space of a few yards, etc.

The second piece of the fair is the Art. There are art galleries, art prizes, and perhaps most striking, the Walls of Art. These are white walls surrounding the main hall, that get papered over by hopeful illustrators displaying their wares. By the end of the fair, these walls are so crowded with artwork that it is dripping all over the floor.

Day 1 - the walls are just starting to fill.
Day 2 - More art to come!
Now, the part of the fair that AGENTS think is the most important: Rights selling at the Agent's Centre. You'll recall this blog post from a few years ago explaining subsidiary rights in a nutshell -- well, the rights that agents are mostly here to sell are foreign/translation rights.

One side of the agent's centre
Agents and foreign rights managers each have an assigned table in the Agent's Centre. From about 9am to about 6, agents will sit at one of these 100+ tables taking meetings. Every half hour, a new meeting. Some agents' schedules are so intense that they don't even build time in for breaks... this was a bit of a problem this year, as we didn't have an Agent Restroom! ARGH. #bathroomgate #glamorous.

The goals of most meetings include networking and putting faces to names; learning about the market in a given country; and pitching, pitching, pitching. Agents are meeting mostly with foreign publishers and foreign co-agents, and talking about their own list based on what those people say they are looking for.

Not gonna lie - it's truly exhausting. Which is why tonight I stayed in my rental apartment rather than going off to party-hop or have a dinner out. Because tomorrow... it all begins again!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

REAL TALK: $ix Figure Book Deal$

PS on top: I found some posts by other smart folk like agent Mandy Hubbard and author Jim C. Hines - if you want to like, double or triple-reinforce the point I'm making. But I'd already started typing by the time I saw those soooo... here you go. And this post started life as a comment on an SCBWI message board thread, if it looks familiar to you, that's why. Thanks, SCBWI, for so often giving me blog post ideas! ;-)

One of the questions I dread most at conferences is, "how much money do books make?" I have a sort of pat answer I usually give, whilst eye-rolling. Something along the lines of "somewhere between $1 and $1,000,000." or "I dunno, how long is a piece of string?"

But let's get real. Many new authors will probably be offered $4-8,000 on a debut picture book text-only to a normal mid-sized traditional publisher. $5-12,000 on a chapter book. $8-20,000 on a middle grade novel. $12-30,000 on a YA.  I'm talking average - yes, some will be higher, some lower, and no I haven't done an official poll, but I bet I'm right.

These numbers will be much lower for small presses (and probably much MUCH lower for digital publishers or startups). The numbers will be higher for extremely commercial books with great crossover potential, or for an author who is well-known, or if there is lots of competition for a title or it is "hot" in some way. (The numbers may also be different depending on what rights you sell.) Still, these would be what I'd consider to be unexceptional starting offers. Nothing to get mad about, just, you know. Normal.

Yet we all know of people who got paid a lot more than that.... so what about THEM? Well, first of all, I'd say they are outliers. Yes, I have certainly had awesome six-figure debut sales. But they consist of maybe -- 10% of deals. Most are Normal. On the high side of what I quoted above, perhaps, when all the negotiating is done, but still, not megabucks.


 OK fine. Cue the mystical bossa nova music and IMAGINE IF YOU WILL:

You're a new author - maybe you don't even have an agent yet, but you are actively querying, reading all kinds of Publishers Weekly deal announcements, and dreaming of the day your very own manuscript will go on submission and sell, too.

These magic words echo in your daydreams.... six-figure deal. SIX-FIGURE DEAL! With that kind of money, you could quit your day job, pay for your kid's college tuition in cash AND afford to supersize them fries, possibly from the comfort of your Mercedes-Benz. CHA-CHING, AM I RIGHT? Soon you'll be in a beach house, smiling gently whilst typing away on your latest brilliant novel. Everything is clean and inexplicably made of white linen or similar and somebody has brought you a cup of tea and there's a cool ocean breeze that also somehow smells of chocolate chip cookies and all the cares of your old life behind you--

Not so fast, Hoss.  Here comes the dream-shatterer. *music screeches off*

COMMISSION: If you got a six-figure deal, you probably have an agent, too. Your agent will take 15% of your income (possibly 20-25% in the case of foreign income or film deals). This is money worth spending, because without your agent, you would have probably had a lot less dough in the first place, or nothing at all. And your agent is protecting your interests and guiding you in the long-term. OK, fine. But don't forget about --

TAXES:  Even if you have a day-job, when you get paid for writing, you are also self-employed. A freelancer. As a writer and US Citizen, you have to pay both Income Tax AND Self-Employment Tax on everything you make writing. Does that suck? Hell yes it does. Sorry. You can expect to pay about 30% of your writing income in taxes. Possibly more.

ETA while we're on this topic - As a freelancer, you will also be expected to pay taxes 4x a year rather than just in April. (This is good in a way - less painful to write four medium-sized checks than one huge one... but bad in another way - like, you have to have enough money 4x per year. And remember. UGH) (One day I'll do a blog post just about this, aren't you lucky!)

Also: I might sound like a broken record on this one, but seriously, if you are going to be a career writer, TREAT YO' SELF to a good accountant who knows a lot about artists and freelancers. They will save you much money and angst in the long run, and, your accountant's fee is tax-deductible.

EXPENSES: As I said, you're self-employed. All the fun stuff like office supplies, a new laptop, travel to some conference or bookstore, HEALTH INSURANCE, etc? Probably coming straight out of your pocket. The good news is, anything related to your writing job, including said office supplies, your office space, travel for research or promo, and other self-promotional stuff, is tax deductible, at least in part, so keep good records. The bad news is, well, you have to pay for it in the first place, "tax deductible" doesn't mean free. (As far as insurance, unless you're lucky enough to have a great day job or a spouse who can provide, well... thanks, Obama. Seriously... thanks, and God bless you, Sir.)

PAYOUTS:  Most book deals in the US kids book world are structured so the payments are split into 2 or 3 parts. (Many huge deals and books in the grownup world are divided even more than that!) So you get one part on signing, one part on delivery and acceptance (D+A) of the final manuscript, and sometimes one (often smaller) part on publication.

SO LET'S CRUNCH THE NUMBERS. If you luck out and get a "six figure deal" from a good American publisher today, assuming all works according to schedule in a perfect world, and your agent doesn't have to chase down any money for you, and your publisher doesn't go under, and your editor gets notes to you in time, and you have no crises ... your deal (including taxes but not including expenses) might look something like this:

March 2015: Make the deal! Yay!  It's a nice one. 2 books for $100,000 total! Welcome to the six-figure club! :D

April/May 2015: Your agent gets contracts and negotiates!

June 2015: PAYMENT - on-signing, 20k each book, 40k total - minus 15% for agent, and let's be generous and say 25% for taxes because of that great accountant: $24,000 total

November/December 2015: Book 1 Due (for publication Winter 2017)

January 2016: PAYMENT - D+A book 1, 20k - minus 15% for agent, 25% for taxes: $12,000 total

November/December 2016: Book 2 Due (for publication Winter 2018)

January 2017: PAYMENT -  - D+A book 2, 20k - minus 15% for agent, 25% for taxes: $12,000 total

February 2017: Book 1 Publication

March 2017: PAYMENT - On-Pub Book 1, 10k - minus 15% and 25%, $6,000 total

February 2018: Book 2 Publication

March 2018: PAYMENT - On-Pub Book 2, 10k - minus 15% and 25%, $6,000 total

So you didn't make 100k, actually, you made 60k (or less), spread out over the course of four years, and probably at least one of those years you get... not much. In this example, $24k in 2015, $12k in 2016, $18k in 2017, $6k in 2018.

I mean, you know, that's not NOTHING, it's a great deal for most kids books... but it's not exactly "bathe in champagne" time. You'd make as much or more working minimum wage at the Gap for four years.

SO, what to do?

The single best thing you can do for your career is KEEP WRITING GREAT BOOKS.  Seriously. Keep writing. Success builds. Books in print, books that continue selling, may make you money for years to come. A nice fat ADVANCE is great, but ideally you'll earn out your advance and collect royalty checks for the rest of your life.

But earning out and seeing more $ probably won't happen until after the book has been released, and sometimes it doesn't happen till LONG after... and can never be counted on to happen at all. So that means that you probably won't see a non-Advance check on these particular books until late 2017 at the very earliest - probably, in reality, not until sometime in 2018. Meantime, you'll be dead of starvation. So yes. Don't quit your dayjob. Or do, and WRITE MORE BOOKS!

I could go on and on but I think that's enough out of me - maybe "how to quit your day job" can be another blog post for another day. What about you, any thoughts on this or further questions?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Interview with a 7th Grader

A 7th-grader reached out because she wanted to interview me about being an agent for an expository writing assigment. Since some of these are questions that I get a lot, I figured I'd answer on the blog. Hopefully the answers are helpful to the student, and may be of some interest to other readers, as well! :-) 

1) What role do literary agents play in the writing community? 

A literary agent helps a writer navigate and manage their career. Much in the same way most actors have talent agents who help them get fancy movie roles and negotiate their contracts, or basketball players have sports agents who get them sneaker endorsement deals, authors have literary agents who help place their work with publishers. Agents also may help get those books translated into other languages and get made into movies, apps or toys. And an agent helps an author with all kinds of other business matters. Almost every book that you see in the bookstore is there because an agent helped the author place the book with a publisher.

2) Who or what inspired you to want to become a literary agent?

My friend Barry Goldblatt is an agent, and when I met him ten years ago, I thought his job looked super cool and interesting. (He represents Libba Bray, Holly Black, Shannon Hale, Jo Knowles, among many other amazing authors.) I decided I wanted to do that, too!  So I got an internship in 2006 or so, then joined my agency in 2007, and officially became an agent in 2008.

3) What did you have to go through to be a literary agent? 

Everyone has a different path to becoming an agent. Personally, before I ever started, I first worked for a decade in bookstores as a buyer and events person... So I knew a LOT about books and publishing, and a lot of authors, illustrators and people in publishing. That means when I decided I wanted to become an agent, it was probably easier for me than it would have been for somebody starting from scratch. I still started out essentially as an unpaid intern, but  I was able to move up a bit more quickly than usual.

Still, what might have looked like "overnight success" to an outsider was, in fact, the result of 15+ years of work.

4) Was it hard to get the job? 

Again, it's not really a job you apply for and interview and either get or don't get. You don't get a regular paycheck or have to wear a uniform or anything. Instead, it's a career that you build. So, yeah, it's hard to build a successful career - it takes years, and patience.

5) What was the biggest lesson you've learned so far in you career that you would like to share with fresh agents? And what is the hardest thing about being an agent?

Imagine if you turned in an assignment to your teacher on Friday... and instead of getting the grade back the following Monday, you got the grade six months later, out of nowhere, when it had been so long you'd already forgotten about it, gone on summer vacation, become an 8th grader. Now you have to go back and re-do part of that old assignment AND add an essay and make a poster for it, tonight. UGH! What the heck! You don't even TAKE that class anymore! But you have to do it, or you'll retroactively fail. Well.... that's kinda what publishing is like. ;-)

If you are expecting overnight riches and success, you will probably be disappointed. Everything in publishing is extremely slow, and patience is critical. (This is hard for me, as I am rather impatient by nature.)

As for the VERY hardest thing about being an agent -- well, agents get new clients when the authors write us what is called a "query letter." I get hundreds of query letters a week, but I can only take on maybe five new clients a year. It's definitely hard to say no to good projects... but I have to do it, every day. :-(

6) What kind of writers have you worked with? Are there certain writers you work with more than others? 

I only work with authors of books for children and young adults. Other agents have other specialties; my specialty is kids and teen fiction.

7) What are some things you need to stay organized? 

I use a paper calendar, a google calendar, and a bullet journal for day-to-day scheduling and assignments. To keep track of all my clients and their various projects, I have a lot of excel spreadsheets, plus color-coded labels in gmail, plus a paper notebook in which I have a page for each book we are working on with all the pertinent info on it. I do end up double-entering some of the information, but I have had my computer crash and lose tons of information and it was very horrible, so I always like to write things down on paper, too, rather than rely exclusively on the computer!

8) Did you have to take extra classes in high school and/or college to become a literary agent? 

Agenting is essentially an apprentice business - really the only way you can learn it is by doing it, while being mentored by a more successful agent. There are no "agent classes."

I know agents who have MFAs in writing, PhDs in Literature, Masters of Business Administration degrees, law degrees... or, like me, studied something totally random in school, like theatre or history! What you major in doesn't really matter. But what DOES matter, whatever your college major, is that you become quite good at writing clearly and reading critically.

In addition to English (writing and literature) classes, you might also find that classes in contract law, business, marketing, web development or book-keeping come in handy. But they aren't required by any means.

9) Would you do anything over the summer before or while you've been an agent to be a better agent? 

Well, sadly, I don't get summers off. :-) Probably you mean, would I suggest anything that YOU might do over the summer to potentially become an agent in the future. IF that's the case: I'd suggest you try to get a job in a bookstore or library.  

Read everything you possibly can. And don't just READ... read critically, and pay attention to which publishers make which books. If you do, you'll start to see that different publishers have different styles and specialties. Pay attention to who publishes what. This will come in handy if you become a professional book person later -- book people pretty much always talk about who the publisher is when they talk about a book.

10) What qualities do you need to be a successful agent? 

At the very least, a successful agent will probably be a great communicator, and know a LOT about books and publishing.

I hope that helps - let me know if the comments if you need clarification or have other questions.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentines Day 2015

I don't do Christmas cards (too swamped in December) or Birthday cards (too forgetful) -- but a tradition I DO uphold is to send out a Valentine each year. Hey, we may not have construction-paper covered mailboxes on our desks anymore, but it's still fun to get pretty mail on a winter's day.

The Literatentines are always drawn by one of the terrific illustrators I represent. This year, Sergio Ruzzier brought the magic with some adorably bookish little cheepers.

Much love, friends. May you have heaps of joy and excellent reading in 2015!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Logrolling in Our Time*, or, You Can't Take Blurbs With You

Blurbs. You know,  those little quotes about how awesome an author or their book is that are often on book jackets or in advertisements? Like: "Author is a certified genius and this book is a revelation!" Yeah. Those little tricky devils are the cause of no small amount of angst for all parties concerned. So here are some blurb facts and some blurb etiquette that might help. (Maybe).

FACT: * Pretty Much Everyone Hates Blurbs. * I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the majority of people in the publishing industry LOATHE blurbs. Agents and editors and publicists and their ilk know how hard they are to get, and more than that, how little most of them are worth. Authors generally dislike being in the position of begging for favors OR having favors begged of them. The process of blurbery can cause anything from mild stress to genuine anguish in its victims. :(

FACT: * Blurbs Are Mostly Worthless. *  Did I say "how little most of them are worth"?? Am I implying that Blurbs are mostly WORTHLESS? Well... no. I wasn't implying it, I was saying it. I mean look: If you are lucky enough to get a blurb from an extremely well-regarded author in your genre, you might get some of their fans to perk up when they see it. But those fans are PROBABLY fans of the genre in general, and they probably already knew about your book or would have come across it anyway, and nobody is going to read it JUST because of the blurb.

It's much more likely that a personal recommendation or review from an author - on their twitter, blog, vlog or whatever - will bring the book to fan attention. The blurb that is in the catalogue or on the back of the book is only good if somebody has already picked up the publishers catalogue or the book to look at it. So, you know, it's SUPER NICE,  but there isn't any proof that blurbs really help move the needle, sales-wise.

I've spoken to hundreds of readers, booksellers, librarians and others, and the fact is, the vast majority of the time, the blurb is not the deciding factor about whether or not they spend time and money on a given book. It's just not.

FACT: * Sometimes They're Not Worthless. * I can see the value of a blurb from a LEGIT FAMOUS PERSON that may help you get customers you wouldn't normally get. There are a few "legit famous person" authors: John Green, Neil Gaiman, Judy Blume, and maybe a handful of others. A blurb from one of these people may translate to a buy from some of their fans, and that is not anything to sniff at. Most famous people, of course, are NOT authors.

I am in the publishing industry, I already knew about the book X: A NOVEL, read it in galley form with no blurbs attached. But even I, hardened and cynical, raised an eyebrow in appreciation at the nice blurbs from Chris Rock and Muhammad Ali. These quotes, if printed in advertisements in mainstream publications (ie, NOT trade publications like PW that only industry people read) will likely catch the eyes of people who aren't "the usual suspects" -- customers that DON'T normally shop in the YA section or have a clue about kids books, but who will be attracted by these very high-profile endorsements.

FACT: *Blurbs Aren't Going Anywhere. * - For better or for worse, this practice of trying to get blurbs for nearly every dang novel that comes out seems to be a trend that is lasting. Part of it, I think, is that success is so ephemeral. Nobody knows what exact combination of factors causes a breakout book. Is it about Great reviews? Word of mouth? Right place right time?  Pure dumb LUCK? Or what? WHAT? Everybody wants to catch this lightning in a bottle. But there is very little that is actually within the publisher or authors' control.

You can write the best book possible. That's in your control. But virtually nothing else about the process really is. And ultimately, even the biggest, fanciest publisher can't make people write reviews or talk the book up or influence the Great Beyond to work on the books behalf. They can make a great looking package, but they can't force people to buy or read it. They can spend money on marketing but they can't guarantee that it will DO anything. So "getting blurbs" at least makes people FEEL like they are doing something to encourage the success of the book. And it probably doesn't hurt at least, so what the hey.

Here's how to live with it, with less stress:

ADVICE: * If you are a BLURBEE * - that is to say, a person whose work is in the publication pipeline, who is concerned about getting blurbs: If the subject doesn't come up, you really don't have to bring it up. If your publisher isn't anxious about this, you shouldn't be either. (See "mostly worthless", above). Blurbs are, in my experience, never sought for picture books or chapter books. It is also not terribly common for a lot of middle grade, particularly highly commercial books where the "hook" really does all the work. They are more likely to be thought important for upper MG and YA, particularly for somewhat literary novels, debuts or "breakout" books.

If/when the subject DOES arise, I suggest working with your agent and editor to brainstorm a list of possible authors to approach for endorsements. These should be authors that you think are actually appropriate for the material at hand -- so I would not suggest a picture book author to blurb an edgy YA. It just doesn't make sense.  It makes logical sense that your book should appeal to the same audience as the person who is potentially endorsing you.

So you have your list of awesome, appropriate names that you brainstormed. Now you and your agent and editor figure out who will approach whom. The person with the strongest connection to that author (or their agent or editor) should be the person to approach. You as the author should NEVER have to "cold-call" (cold email?) people you don't have any connection to. Nor should you ever be asked to make the request if it makes you feel uncomfortable. When in doubt, your editor should approach their editor or agent.

YOU MIGHT HAVE WEIRD FEELINGS. Like: a) They'll feel sorry for me, as they know what it's like to "need" a blurb;  b) They'll be put on the spot and feel like they "have" to blurb and then hate me; c) They'll have to say no and then feel guilty. DO NOT FEEL WEIRD. This is just part of the process. Nobody will hate you. Nobody will give a blurb unless they are genuinely able and willing to do so. And if they aren't, that's OK. Blurbs are nice, but a lack of a blurb has never killed anybody.

If you are approaching somebody - whether they are your BFF or just somebody who you know tangentially, or even a total stranger - take Curtis Sittenfeld's advice and be polite, succinct, and pre-emptively let them off the hook.  DO tell them what the book is about, and why you think it is a fit, but do so briefly. Don't say no FOR them obviously - but don't be offended or upset if the answer IS no. When you are more famous, people will be asking YOU for blurbs, and you'll remember this experience.

ADVICE: * If you are a BLURBER * - that is to say, a person who is being approached for a blurb: Value your own time and sanity. If you are on deadline or just busy with life stuff, or hell, if the book just doesn't sound interesting to you, nobody can be offended by your saying No. If they are offended, they are jerks.

YOU MIGHT HAVE WEIRD FEELINGS. Like, a) I feel sorry for the author, and I know what it's like to "need" a blurb;  b) I'm worried the author will find out I was asked and said no and then hate me; c) I'm worried if I say no this fancy classy editor will hate me. DO NOT FEEL WEIRD. This is just part of the process. Nobody will hate you. If you have time and ability and are moved to do so, by all means do it! But if not, that's OK. Blurbs are nice, but a lack of a blurb has never killed anybody.

My Personal Blurb Rules: 1) You should genuinely like the book and want other people to read it. 2) It should fit your "brand" or target audience. Would you recommend this to the same people who buy your book? 3) Don't be a "blurb whore" - if you blurb everything, your endorsement will stop being meaningful.

Your blurb rules may vary, but whatever they are, if you want to avoid burnout, I suggest you and your agent come up with a blurb plan. Perhaps it is that you NEVER blurb, or you will only blurb one book per season or year. You can always reserve the right to CHANGE that blurb plan, you aren't locked into it with manacles, but if you are approached unawares, it will give you a handy excuse to say no if the stars aren't aligning, and you can always make your agent into the bad guy. "Ah, my agent doesn't want me to blurb until my deadlines are passed" or "Oh, my agent says only one book per year, sorry!" (Agents are fine with being the bad guys). 

But if the book does sound great, and you do have the time, and you do read it and love it -- well, what the heck. If you CAN do it and WANT to do it, by all means do! Nothing will make an authors day/month/year more than kind words from an author they admire.

Did I miss anything? What are YOUR blurby feelings?

*PS: If you are too young to get the title reference: in the late 80's/early 90's there was a satirical magazine called SPY that had a feature called "Logrolling in Our Time" that showed blurbs that famous people gave each other. Quid pro quo, Clarice. (And if you're too young for THAT reference, don't tell me).