Image: Matthew Loffhagen
A book’s endorsements are like word-of-mouth advertising, says Larry James. And if, even in this technological and social media-driven world, word of mouth is still the most effective form of marketing, then getting endorsements from the right people is well worth your time.
Are you writing a thriller? What if James Patterson agreed to endorse your book?
If your next book is about a new diet and exercise routine, wouldn’t an endorsement from Jillian Michaels turn some heads?
That’s what I’m talking about.
Endorsements are about getting reader attention, giving your book instant clout in your audience’s mind.
Think it’s impossible to get celebrities and experts to back your book? Not true, but you’ll have to work for it. Here’s a four-step process to show you how.
1. Make a list
Turn off your internal critic for a minute. Ready? Okay, now without hesitating or second-guessing yourself, answer this question:
If I could have anyone endorse my book, who would it be?
Start writing. Don’t omit any names, no matter how outlandish or impossible they may seem. Keep going, keep going, keep writing. This may be intimidating, you may feel yourself being stretched outside your comfort zone. But remember, this is just another step in the process of making your book the best it can be and getting it into the hands of the people who need to read it.
Many of the people on your list were once where you are now. Let that sink in for a minute. That celebrity, that politician, that millionaire, she too had to take daunting steps to raise herself to new heights in her career, he once had to reach out to someone with more notoriety to help promote his work. Not everyone remembers their roots, but many do and are glad for a chance to help give others a boost.
Okay, take a minute and look at your list. I imagine you’ve listed people who are experts or high-profile figures in the field or genre you’re writing for. That’s perfect. But it’s just a start. Let’s move on to step two to widen your net.
2. Think outside the box
Getting some big names in your genre to endorse you is great for visibility, but widening the playing field can be a helpful strategy for catching reader attention too. Let’s say you’ve written an adult sci-fi novel with heavy military and technology elements. Now think of your target audience. Outside of other sci-fi authors, who else’s name and reputation might influence or impress your reader? A big name in popular science, the gaming world, or even politics?
So, get your target readers in mind. Brainstorm about their other fields of interest. Write down the names of visible and authoritative figures from those circles. Don’t forget to turn that internal critic off, and then go back to your list and keep writing names.
This is the time to make your networks go to work for you. Reach out to anyone you already know in these fields and seek to make connections. Ask for advice about other people to include, those you may not have thought of. You might be surprised at the ways connections come to you, but you have to be creative and intentional about seeking them out.
3. Write your letter
You’ve finished your list, now it’s time to introduce yourself and request an endorsement. If you haven’t learned this secret of the industry, let me share it with you:
Personalizing your correspondence is one of the most key ways of standing out.
Whether we’re talking about an agent’s mountainous slush pile or a celebrity’s busy schedule, making a personal connection will go a long way to being heard above the noise. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t settle for a publisher’s or agency’s contact info. If you’re going to get your request into a prominent figure’s hands, you need personal contact information. Exploit social media channels, private message this person if possible, or try using their website’s request form. If some people on your list are really high profile, you most likely will have to go through an agent or other representative, but the same principles apply; be sure you’re talking to the right person, you don’t want to waste your time.
- Make a connection. Find something you have in common with your contact and use it to personalize your letter. Even if this means sharing what you love about their work, it’s a starting point.
- Do the work for them. If you do the work up front, you’ll be making it easier for them to say yes. This might mean including a synopsis and sample chapters of your book; writing a few blurbs for them to choose from, edit, or rewrite to suit them; be sure to list a deadline.
- Be brief, personal, and professional.
Now you have the basic elements you need to put together an endorsement request. Go write your letter!
4. Be brave
How are you doing? Feeling overwhelmed? Being a writer is in so many ways about pushing the envelope, stepping outside your comfort zone, putting yourself in vulnerable positions. Just when you think you’ve hit your stride, you’re pushed and stretched once again. Not only have you put words from your heart and your mind on display for public consumption, now you’re asking successful people to back your words and ideas, maybe even your values. But just as you’ve scaled walls before, once you beat this one, you’ll look back at it from the other side and see it wasn’t really so tall; you will have grown from the experience.
So, be brave, be confident. This is just another step in your writing career. And imagine how you’ll feel when someone you admire puts their stamp of approval on the cover of your book.
Let that feeling drive you.
Before you know it, you’ll have impressive endorsements for your book that will catch your reader’s eye and persuade them that your book is worth their time.
Have you managed to get an endorsement that you are particularly proud of? If not, who would you like to endorse your book? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.