Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chasing the Wild Endorsement

Most of us writers cringe at the thought of the need to promote our work, not to mention the need to  ask others to endorse our work - and if we can use their quotes on our book jackets, at our websites and for other promotion.  The whole thing can be a bit intimidating and cause us to lose a bit of our cool and possibly not approach those we need in the right way. 

First of all, keep your best manners on display.  Rudeness, even unintentional, is not the way to get someone's support.

So here are a few tips.

You're heading out to a writer's conference. Your favorite author is going to be there and your book needs a great endorsement.  What an opportunity!

Wait, no, not there.  It's never polite to hit up a professional in public - to put him or her on the spot.  Make the contact, be pleasant, get some contact info, and after the conference send that special author a friendly request.  Be sure to tell a bit about your book, your professional history and why you want that particular author's endorsement.  Be prepared to give a reason - hopefully other than "hey you sell a lot of books!" Maybe mention a book of theirs you've read, or the style with with they write. Make it personal.

Oh, and don't make the author (or authors) you've chosen to approach feel pressured or obligated.  He or she simply may not have the time to read your book or even a part of it. So don't get all huffy and hold some kind of grudge if you get declined. 

Remember this is one big favor you're asking of someone. You're requesting that author (or whoever you're asking for an endorsement) take his or her valuable time to read your book, or at least part of it. Then you hope he or she will take even more time to put together a blurb for you to use.  On top of all that since you're asking to quote that person, you're asking he or she 'lend' you their reputation.  All this for free.

And by the way, it's okay to solicit three or four authors at a time for their quote, but don't go nuts and ask 10 or 20 at a shot. 

First of all, you'll probably only have room to use up to 3 or 4 quotes and really showcase them.  So you don't want to insult anyone by asking for a quote and then not using it. Also, in general, you don't even want to use a long string of blurbs.  Too many and they don't mean a whole lot to the reader who probably won't read them all anyway.  And you don't want that special author or expert feeling lost in the crowd. So, ask a max of three or so at a time, wait for their responses and then, if negative, ask a couple more until you have the short list you need.

Most writers who do this huge favor will expect to have their blurb used on the book jacket, probably hoping for the front cover, and the website, not just a backwater website alone.

And remember, don't ever quote someone before you've gotten his or her permission to do so.  Just because someone tells you how much they've enjoyed your work, perhaps in the context of a conference or a casual meeting, doesn't mean you can quote them willy nilly without their okay. And, it's best to get their approval in writing.

So polish up your best manners, pause and give some thought as to how to best approach each person you'd like to solicit for an endorsement, and allow yourself plenty of time before the book's release to collect those endorsements.  Coordinate with your publisher so you remain aware of the deadline as to when things like endorsements can be added to the jacket cover.

Think of it as a opportunity to make some friends. 

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