Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com
I subscribe to Author Randy Ingermanson’s newsletter. You may want to, too (see the above link). With permission, I’m reprinting his thoughts on book endorsements.
Endorsements are the short blurbs for your book, typically written by other authors, that show up in the front matter for your book and on your book’s sales page on the online retailers. . .
. . . My reason for thinking that endorsements matter is that I have, in the past, paid attention to a book if it had a strong endorsement on it. When I say that I “paid attention” to the book, I mean that I took a look at the product description, and if that sounded interesting, I opened the book and read the first chapter to see if it was up to snuff. But if the quality was poor, I didn’t buy the book, no matter how glowing the endorsements.
And if the cover was off, or the price was way out of line, I probably never even got far enough to see the endorsements in the first place.
Assuming Everything Else is Right, Then What?
So assuming that you’ve got a well-written book, a strong cover, a reasonable price, and a great product description, how do you line up endorsements?
What do you have to do in order to get some other author to endorse your book?
Let’s turn that around.
Suppose you’re a reasonably successful author, and you get a request from another author to endorse their book. Why might you say yes? And why might you say no?
Reasons You’d Say Yes
You might agree to endorse a book for a variety of reasons:
- You already know the author who’s asking for the endorsement.
- You’ve heard of the author and know he or she has a good reputation.
- The book sounds REALLY interesting.
- The book sounds like it’s going to sell extremely well, which means that endorsers for the book will automatically get some free publicity.
- You just want to help out another author.
- Probably other reasons.
Reasons You’d Say No
You might decline to endorse a book for a variety of reasons:
- You’re under massive time pressure and you just don’t have six or eight or ten hours to read this book right now.
- You never heard of the author, and they approach you in a weird way that makes you feel like they have an entitlement mentality and don’t realize they’re asking you to do them a big favor.
- The book has a terrible title or a terrible cover, or it’s in a category you hate, or it’s presenting a message that you violently oppose.
- The book just doesn’t sound like something you’d want to read.
- You read the first few chapters of the book and realized that the quality is not something you feel comfortable endorsing.
- Probably other reasons.
Lining Up the Endorsements
So how do you line up endorsements? Here are the key elements that I think should go into your game plan:
- Get your ducks in a row. You need to have Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of your book ready to send out to potential endorsers in several electronic formats—at least PDF, and if possible also a Kindle version and an ePub version. You might also have paper ARCs. If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will often create paper ARCs specifically to send to potential endorsers. You don’t need to have the cover designed yet.
- Always, always, always keep in mind that other authors are busy and you are asking for a big favor. So remember going into this that some authors will not have the time, and that you need to respect their right to not have time.
- Make a list of authors who might potentially be willing to endorse your book. Some of these might be very likely. Others might be very unlikely. But there should be a reason why you’d want to ask each one of them.
- Sort them into groups: most likely to say yes, moderately likely to say yes, and most likely to say no.
- Start with the group of most likely candidates and write an e-mail customized to each one, asking if they’re willing to read an Advance Reader Copy for possible endorsement.
- If things go well with the first group, send e-mails to your next group—the less-likely candidates. (If things don’t go well with the first group, you probably need to rethink your approach.)
- If things also go well with the second group, then send e-mails to the group of least-likely candidates.
What Goes In That E-mail
You may be thinking that I’ve left out something very important—exactly how to make that crucial “ask” in the e-mail.
You’re right. Asking is hard.There’s a lot to say about it, more than would fit in the bullet points above.
So how do you ask for an endorsement? Here’s how:
Remember that you are asking for a big, big favor. Nobody owes you this big of a favor, so you should expect that some people will say no. If they say yes, it’s going to cost them a fair bit of time and effort, and they may just not have it right now.
For each author you approach, you need to personalize your e-mail so it’s clear that you’re not simply shotgunning out a million requests. Think about how well you know this author. Think about what they like to read, and why they might be willing to read your book. Think about what’s in this book for them, particularly. And also think about why they might have to say no.
Then write the e-mail and make it personal! It must not be a form letter. Write it in a way that shows you’re thinking about their particular situation in life. If there’s something in the book they’ll love, say what it is. But make it clear that you know it’s going to cost them time and effort to read your book. Show that you appreciate them.
Make it clear that you completely understand that they might not be able to write an endorsement. And also make it clear that you’re not asking them to promise an endorsement up front. You’re asking them to read the book for possible endorsement—meaning that they might read part of it and then decide to say no.
Never, ever, ever offer money or any other inducement. Endorsements are not for sale. Endorsements need to be freely given. You wouldn’t offer your mother payment for making a great Thanksgiving dinner. You’d offer appreciatiation . . .