In the months before your book is published, you should begin reaching out to fellow authors to request endorsements. Ideally, testimonials should come from authors in your field, and the more well-known the author is, the better for building credibility with potential readers.
While you may think that big-name authors are untouchable, that hasn’t been our experience. Many authors know that endorsing a book enhances their own marketing efforts since they gain added visibility with the readers of the books they endorse. And the fact is that it never hurts to ask. All they can do is say no, but they just might surprise you and say yes!
The key to getting the attention of well-known authors is to show up like a pro. Avoid telling them your whole life story or pleading for help. Also, please don’t rant about how this is your first book, you’re self-publishing, and you have no idea if anyone will ever buy your work. Seriously, some new authors do this and it does not inspire good results.
Contact information for even the biggest authors is almost always available. Search their websites or reach out via social media direct message. You’d be surprised by who reads their own messages on Facebook and LinkedIn. You might also ask author friends if they happen to know any top authors in your genre. Personal introductions can only help your case.
Here’s a sample request for an endorsement that you can send out via email:
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Hi <author name>,
I loved your book <title> and found it enlightening because . . . <briefly explain>
I have a new book coming out this winter: <title>. It’s about <brief description, just two or three sentences>. I am in the process of gathering endorsements for the jacket. Would you consider providing a testimonial? I would be happy to send you sample chapters or the entire manuscript for review—whatever you prefer. Having your support would mean a lot to me.
Thanks very much for your consideration.
<your website link so he/she can see you’re a pro>
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Note that complimenting the author’s work demonstrates that you are a fan of their work and creates instant rapport (flattery will get you everywhere). Be sure to write two or three of the most compelling sentences you can muster about your book and why readers are going to love it.
If you have a large social media following, blog readership, or mailing list—basically an established platform—mention this as well so that the author understands he will receive additional exposure with your audience. You might add an additional sentence like this:
My social media accounts and mailing list combined reach over 30,000 people, and we have a solid marketing campaign planned so you’ll definitely receive some great exposure.
If you don’t yet have much of a platform, leave this out.
Once you land your first well-known author endorsement, mention it in your subsequent requests for endorsements. You can add something like this:
When you endorse my book, you’ll be in good company. Oprah Winfrey has already contributed her endorsement. (Side note: Wouldn’t that be amazing?!)
Also, if you’ve ever met the author or attended one of their events, mention this as well. Any time you can establish a personal connection can only help your case. In fact, if you really want a specific author to endorse your book, figure out how to attend one of her events and try to cross paths (not in a stalker-y way, of course). Even if you never get to meet in person, you can say you were there. And perhaps you’ll get lucky and end up in an elevator together.
This happened to me when I traveled to another state to attend an event where one of my favorite authors was speaking. Not only did we make a personal connection after stepping onto an elevator together, he later endorsed my book and we ended up working on a project together. It’s amazing what can happen when you set an intention and show up!
Pro Tip: Timing is everything.
Authors who have been on the New York Times Best Sellers list in the past year are probably in high demand and will be least likely to respond. But authors who were on the list several years ago, or who are top in the genre but have never made the list, will likely be more accessible. Spread your reach out to A-list, B-list, and C-list authors. You can never have too many endorsements.
When should you start seeking endorsements?
The best time to begin reaching out with endorsement requests is after the first round of editing is complete and you feel confident that the manuscript is in good shape. It’s perfectly fine to send a version of the manuscript that still needs some editing—just let them know you’re sending a manuscript that hasn’t yet been fully edited.
You want to show your best work, so be sure you’ve had at least one round of professional editing completed before you start sending out requests.
What happens after you reach out?
Ideally you will receive responses to your email requests within a few days. Some authors may ask for the full manuscript, though others may just want to see a table of contents and a few sample chapters so they know you can write. I’m sorry to report that the vast majority will not take time to read your book from cover to cover. Don’t take this personally—it’s just the way it works. We’re all busy and have to prioritize our time.
Some may ask for you to send over some sample testimonials. That’s right, they will ask you to write a few examples that they can choose from! They may change a word or two around, but for the most part you will be crafting your own endorsement. This is a reality in this business, so it’s a good idea to have a few samples ready to go.
The bottom line is that endorsements can absolutely enhance the credibility of a book so don’t be afraid to pursue them with gusto. Make a list of ten to twenty authors and start asking. With any luck, you’ll end up with so many testimonials that you’ll need to add a page or two to the beginning of your book to accommodate them.
This article is an excerpt from The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan: The Professional Guide to Profitable Self-Publishing by Stephanie Chandler and Karl W. Palachuk. Get your copy: http://nonfictionbookpublishing.com.