Saturday, July 7, 2012

I've Been Blurbed

Here I am at the 1972 gathering of the Oulipo congress of experimental writers
I've been writing as a part of my creative process for a long time. Initially I believed my prose was a separate project from my visual work; that I had to choose one path over another. As I've alluded to previously, it wasn't until I landed in Audrey Niffenegger's Text 1 class at Columbia College Chicago's Center for Book and Paper Arts as part of the first semester of my MFA that I realized my decades of writing and my decades of visual work were actually all a part of the same effort. It was really liberating. It gave me direction and confidence that propelled me through the three year program.

During my earlier academic writing efforts, I was at a small state school in the middle of the country. About as isolated from the publishing industry or anyone with direct experience with finding an agent or a publisher as I could be. At that time an ill defined dream began to take shape in the back of my mind: one day I would write a novel, I would find a great literary agent who loved my work, I would gain the personal endorsement of a famous novelist, that I would be a part of a community of inspiring creative intellectuals and that world domination would follow.

It only took twenty years, but I have accomplished nearly all of the above.

As you may know, I wrote the novel Good For Nothing, I found a really exciting literary agency with a great couple of agents handling my manuscript, I have been flooded with support from family, friends and other artists and writers whose opinions I really respect. And now, Audrey has blurbed me:

Brandon Graham is a very funny, painfully observant, no-holds-barred American writer. In Good for Nothing he shows us America now: out of work, out of shape, slightly suicidal but retaining a sharp sense of the absurd. This is a brilliant book. When times are really horrible it's good to be able to laugh (especially at ourselves).

This is exciting all on it's own. When she initially offered to look at my manuscript and supply a blurb, I was thankful. As long as I've known Audrey she's been busy with multiple and varied creative projects happening simultaneously. It is also my impression that she gets requests from both established and burgeoning authors for dust jacket blurbs regularly; so many that she simply can't accommodate every request. Someone who should know pointed out to me that Audrey says what she means, means what she says and doesn't say things she doesn't mean. Given all of that, I am truly humbled and grateful for her time and generous assessment of my novel. Perhaps more importantly, I am touched by her continued support, advice and friendship. 

As part of my effort to better understand publishing as a business I have concluded that the industry is Blurb Crazy, which is to say that a good blurb can garner a lot of enthusiasm. This makes sense when you understand that editors work in a fast-paced, highly competitive industry and are increasingly reluctant to spend money on debut novels. This reluctance is due to pressure for profits as well as the shifting sands of the book market due to the influence of Amazon and e-book publishing. A good blurb serves as reassurance that the gamble they are considering taking on a manuscript by an unknown author with no track record might just be a good bet after all. 

Lastly, I have kept my head down, plugging away for so long, that it almost escaped me that the dream I had so many years ago, is manifesting moment by moment. Now the trick is to force myself to take some time to enjoy it. World domination is just around the corner. But fear not, I intend to be a benevolent dictator. No one should worry. Really. I mean it. 


  1. Congrats!! I am so excited for you!!

    1. Thanks M- it's a great situation to be in. It has been a long time coming. I appreciate the kind words.

  2. Sometimes life and it's labors can take a nice turn now and again. All your work seems to pay off! And the blurb is indeed exciting - intriguing even! Can't wait to read.


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