How do I get a good endorsement?
So how do I go about getting good endorsements?
Don’t ask everybody you know. One great endorsement is better than five tepid ones.
Target the best candidates. Think about who the best people would be to endorse your work, and ask them.
Ask people personally. The odds of you getting a good endorsement are much better if you do your own asking, rather than waiting for some publicist or agent to get around to it. (This is why it pays to network.)
Use your six degrees of separation. You’ll be surprised who you can connect with through your friends, your writing acquaintances, your agent, and your editor.
Start with a query. Include a short, two-paragraph letter that acknowledges the individual’s busyness, but requests they take a few moments to look over your manuscript and see if they’d be comfortable offering a few words of encouragement to readers.
Politeness counts. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you need to go talk with your mom.
The clearer the instructions, the better the endorsement. If you really want someone to say “the writing is brilliant,” you might gently suggest words to that effect in your letter. If you want them to say you’re the second coming of Mark Twain, include a photo of yourself wearing a white suit and smoking a cigar. The point is, you want to make it easy for the person to help you. Like most writers, a suggestion can speed the process more than a blank sheet of paper. Give the potential endorser some direction.
The bigger the name, the longer it takes. A good endorsement takes time. You can’t call Bill Clinton and expect him to get you something tomorrow — believe it or not, he’s got other things on his schedule. Get your manuscript done early, get it onto the desk of the person you’re asking, and be patient.
Don’t clutter your proposal with too many endorsements. It starts to look like what it is: hype. A couple of solid lines from a celebrity author or two is sufficient, and will get noticed.
Be creative. The problem with most endorsements is that they don’t stand out — they all can sound the same, which is basically, “I like this book. It’s pretty good.” If you want your endorsements to be meaningful, give people time and direction, and help them create something strong and unique.
Rely on authors the editors will appreciate, or authors at the houses your approaching. Publishers love their own authors, so if you’re approaching Simon & Schuster, you may find it most helpful to get a word of support from another S&S author. If you’re looking for an endorsement for your next suspense novel, look to important or influential suspense novelists, or at least crafts people the editors will recognize and respect.
Never ask an agent to endorse your book. Never. Ever. They’ll screw it up. (“This is a fine book, that I represented, and like all my bestselling authors, this one owes it all to ME! I’m the King of the World!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”)
Years ago, some friends of mine put together a mock book proposal for April Fool’s Day — a collection of all J.I. Packers’ book endorsements. That was during the time when Packer apparently was under some sort of contractual obligation to endorse every book produced in the Free World. It included a bunch of well-written-but-bland generalities, and made for a fun afternoon. Until some humor-impaired editor actually expressed interest in the project. I’m serious. And that particular genius is now an agent. Yikes. (And if you don’t know J.I. Packer, you’re missing out. He’s one of my heroes.)
I’d love to know what endorsements you like and hate.
A favorite: “After reading Making a Literary Life, I have decided to abandon my present career and become an aspirant writer, this time guided by Carolyn See’s wonderfully instructive (and readable) book.”–William F. Buckley, Jr. That endorsement really grabbed my attention, but then, WFB always did.
Amen to that. Thanks, Julia!
I never read the endorsements–just like the ads on any website, they are just clutter.
I like endorsements specific to the book and author. Along with that, I don’t like endorsements that are general to the book or the author. “Joe is an amazing writer” tells me nothing as to whether he had an amazing story to write this time. “Joe’s story is amazing” tells me nothing as to whether Joe wrote this story in an amazing way. If I don’t see an endorsement say “Joe wrote an amazing story in an amazing way,” my assumption is that the endorser has not read the book.
Yeah, that’s my feeling as well. I always appreciate seeing an endorsement where the writer has clearly READ the book. I’m not crazy about endorsements that say the author is a good guy with a fun sense of humor. (Maybe they just met in a bar.)
““This is a fine book, that I represented, and like all my bestselling authors, this one owes it all to ME! I’m the King of the World!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”
Thank you for the tips,
Happy to make you laugh, Lena.