Admit it: How many times have you grabbed a book off the store shelf, read the front and back covers, opened the book, read the endorsements, then made your decision as to whether or not you wanted to buy the book? Probably most of the time! Endorsements, cover quotes, and forewords carry a lot of weight in a purchaser’s decision.

So how does an author score those juicy endorsements, especially if no one really knows the author yet? There are a few ways of reaching the right people, but first you need to hone in on who will make good endorsers for your book. In general, your endorsers…

  • Need to be well known with your target audience
  • Need to be experts in the field of your topic (for nonfiction) or have written in your genre or in another way have a tie to your book (for fiction)
  • Need to be people of influence among your target audience

Once you have identified prospective endorsers, try one or more of the following avenues to reach them:

  • Go where they may appear: speaking events, book signings, conventions, etc.
  • Contact them via publicists, agents, publishers (if they’ve written a book), or through their industry organizations
  • If they are a company executive, try to reach their administrative assistants via email or phone
  • Network, network, network! Start getting the word out about who you need to reach, asking people how you might get to them. If the six degrees of separation theory holds, someone just may know someone who knows someone who…

Once you’ve found a way to reach your target, what then? How do you approach that person about providing you with an endorsement? First, tell why you think they are the perfect person to endorse your book and why having them lend their name to your book would be a positive thing for them. They are going to want to know what’s in it for them, so you need to have something prepared! If they’ve written their own book on a similar subject, one benefit would be free promotion for that book. If they are a company executive, their company will also gain some good PR. Be aware that many potential endorsers will require a fee for putting their name to your book. Be sure to get all the details of what they will require up front so you’re not unpleasantly surprised.

Of course, they are going to want to know exactly what they are putting their name to, but does that mean you have to have your book completely written so they can read your manuscript first? No, because they probably don’t have the time to read your complete manuscript.

You should however, have completed your book proposal before asking for their endorsement. This way, they can browse your proposal as well as your sample chapters to learn about your book, its quality, and who you are as an author. Some people may, however, request your entire manuscript, which, as we’ll discuss in a later post, is another reason to finish it before writing your proposal.

I highly suggest getting some endorsements lined up (even if they hasn’t written it yet, having their commitment will go a long way in helping your proposal) before you send your proposal to an agent or publisher. Doing so lets the agent know you have respectable people in your field who are willing to stand behind your book. Strong endorsements can push your proposal over the top!

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