By Sandra Beckwith
What’s your plan for snagging compelling testimonials for your book?
Too many authors don’t pursue book “blurbs,” those essential endorsements and testimonials from people who influence your book’s target audience.
That’s a shame because for many readers, a glowing endorsement or two can be the tiebreaker when they’re deciding between two books.
What’s more, soliciting blurbs is part of the traditional book publishing process. Literary agents and editors often expect to see a list of potential “blurbers” in your book proposal. Clearly, they consider them useful.
How Do Publishers Use Blurbs?
Publishers and authors feature influencer endorsements in a number of places:
- Front cover
- Back cover
- Inside front pages
- Amazon sales page under “Editorial Reviews”
- Marketing materials such as bookmarks
- Author websites
- Social media graphics
Regarding social media graphics, publishers often excerpt from blurbs to create “quote cards” that they post on the book’s retail sales pages and on social networks.
Here’s one for best-seller American Dirt.
9 Steps to Blurbs You’ll Be Proud Of
How can you secure these endorsements that will help convince readers to buy your book? Follow this process.
1. Spend time finding the right people to contact
You want the right people providing cover blurbs for your book.
For nonfiction, look for people respected for their subject matter expertise or their accomplishments in your field. For fiction, testimonials from people with recognized names in your genre are golden.
I often receive blurb requests from authors who subscribe to my newsletter. Most of the time, their books have no connection to me or my expertise.
I usually decline the invitation because I want them to give that valuable cover real estate to someone in their field or genre who has clout with their potential readers.
2. Build relationships with influencers long before you need them
Lay the groundwork for your blurb requests by identifying the right people months — years, even — before you need or want an endorsement.
Share their content on social media. Comment on their blog posts. Read and review their books if they’re authors.
In an ideal world, they will recognize your name when you contact them for a book testimonial.
3. Aim high
If a celebrity has a connection to your topic and can help you sell books, contact them.
What’s the worst that can happen? You never hear back from them. You can survive that.
Expand your definition of celebrity, too. They aren’t necessarily the people you see on the news, on TV shows, or in movies. They can be the rock stars of your industry or genre, instead.
4. Contact more people than you think you need to
Keep in mind that this is a numbers game. If you want four testimonials, contact more than that – as many as16 people.
Some won’t respond, while others will decline to participate.
5. Don’t worry about getting “too many” endorsements
Let’s say that of that 16 you contacted, eight agree to provide a blurb, and they actually follow through. Whoa! That’s a nice problem to have, so don’t stress about having too many.
Put the best one on the front cover, the next best on the back cover (if you have one), and the rest inside the book and in the “Editorial Reviews” section of your Amazon sales page.
6. Make your endorsement request via e-mail
One of the essential “must-dos” in your request is explaining why you selected them as a potential endorser. Connect the dots for them while also expressing your admiration for their work and reputation.
7. Send the manuscript
Once people have committed to blurbing your book, email a PDF file of the edited, proofread manuscript. This can be a Word file or an advance review copy in final form.
Why do you need to send a polished manuscript? Because your endorsers need to see your book in as final form as is reasonable for your publication timeline. If it isn’t edited and proofread and has many errors, they’ll see it as a flawed product that they can’t endorse.
If the timing is such that the book hasn’t been proofread yet, be certain to tell your endorsers that so they are aware of the situation.
8. Remind them when their endorsement deadline is approaching
I recommend giving them three weeks to review and endorse the book. Follow up a week out, then three days before.
Be friendly. Ask if they have questions. Offer more specifics about the book.
When Peter Bowerman followed up with me about a blurb for the second edition of his book The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, he included information about what made his book different from others on the topic. That gave me context while helping me zero in on what readers needed to know about this edition.
9. Thank people when they send their blurbs
You can never thank people who have helped you enough. And guess what? Lots of people forget to take this step. Don’t be one of them.
(If you need help finding your way through this process, see my popular training program, “Blurbs, Endorsements, and Testimonials: How to Get Experts, Authorities, Celebrities, and Others to Endorse Your Book.”)
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Move past your fear of rejection when requesting blurbs by asking yourself this question: “What’s the worst that can happen?”
The worst is that you will get no blurbs, endorsements, or testimonials. I suspect you can live with that.
And the best thing that can happen? You’ll get endorsements that make you proud.
Clearly, the risk is worth the reward.
Sandra Beckwith is an author and national award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to save thousands of dollars by doing their own publicity, promotion, and marketing. You might have seen her on “The Montel Williams Show,” or “CBS This Morning,” or read about her in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or USA Today. Feedspot has ranked her website, Build Book Buzz, in the top 10 among thousands of book marketing blogs worldwide; it has also been named a top website for authors and writers six other times. Get your “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” when you subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter at https://buildbookbuzz.com/gift .