Authors often tell me that their first goal in marketing is to go after early endorsements for their book. It’s a great goal, but sometimes a confusing process.
Getting high-profile people to blurb or endorse your book can add a lot of value to your book marketing bottom line. Going after them, however, can be tricky because in the age of social media and access to everyone, it’s easy to get carried away when targeting an influencer.
I’ve spoken to some authors who will just create a ‘hit list’ of folks they aspire to get endorsements from or influencers they want to reach and start plugging away. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. More often than not, the latter is true. Though it’s not always easy to get book endorsements, it’s definitely possible. Also, the higher you go up the celebrity food chain, the more involved the process becomes.
So let’s break down what each piece is, before we dig into how to get them.
Celebrity endorsements can mean virtually anything. It’s not always trying to get an endorsement from Lady Gaga or Reese Witherspoon, sometimes it’s a celebrity in your specific market. One complimentary nod from a famous face can launch even the most obscure product. Most advertising agencies pay a high price to have a celebrity take a swig of their soft drink or wear a pair of their running shoes. The good news is, if you can get an endorsement for your book it probably won’t cost you a thing, except time, patience, persistence, and oh, did I mention patience? It’s a long road that you should begin as soon as you have a reasonably final manuscript and, however long it is, it can be great for your book marketing bottom line.
The terminology is often confusing (book blurb or endorsement vs. book review) and frankly they’re all kind of the same thing. A book review, by definition, is something that appears on your Amazon page, but excerpts of it could also appear on your book cover and/or inside your book under the “book endorsements” section. So often these words are used interchangeably. If you’re going after a high-profile person in your market, use the term “book endorsement” or “book blurb” – because that term automatically implies something that’s done before the book comes out.
People like what other people like, so the idea of a book endorsement means, in theory, that it’ll help your book marketing in a great way.
By definition, a foreword for a book is something that’s written by a celebrity or expert in your market – it could also just be someone you admire, or whose work has inspired the book you wrote. Different from a book endorsement but still “endorsing” your book in a much broader way, a foreword by an industry expert can really help enhance your overall book marketing.
How to Get an Endorsement, Foreword or Review
Regardless of whether you’re wanting a book endorsement or a foreword for your book, the process is pretty much the same. Let’s say right up front that the more you network, the faster this process will go for you. If people know you, or have at least met you, they may be more inclined to help you out. I understand the passion behind your project and that you want to get it out to the world, and certainly an influencer could help to cut that time in half, but if you pitch the wrong person in the wrong way, you’ll just waste your own valuable book marketing time. So let’s go through these steps to get you the best chance of landing a book endorsement.
Step One: Do Your Homework and Create Your List
When I get targeted for a book endorsement, I’m always amazed at how often the book I’ve been asked to blurb has nothing to do with my area of expertise or what I’m known for. And while I get that someone like Robin Arzon (a leading fitness personality) has millions of followers, and gee, wouldn’t it be great if she shared your stuff, wouldn’t it make more sense if Robin was actually interested in the subject of your book?
So, you need to make sure that whoever is on your list has a direct interest in what you’re selling. Not indirect, not through some random thing they were involved in ten years ago, but a direct connection. The more direct the connection, the easier this will be. In book marketing, we call this alignment and you need to find people who are aligned with your book.
Next, you need to perform a conflict’s check. What’s a conflict’s check? Well, it’s a legal term to make sure there are no conflicts. Do this before you pitch them for a book endorsement (or a foreword). Research your target and see if there’s a conflict with your book. Do they have a book or product coming out that they’re currently promoting? Sometimes these things can present a conflict and other times, they present an opportunity. A book marketing synergy, as it were.
This might be a good chance to offer to share their work with your crowd. Though it may not be as big as the influencer’s (and likely it isn’t) it’s still nice to offer the gesture and most people won’t turn down a free mention of their book or whatever it is that they are knee deep in marketing. But know upfront, before your first contact, if there might be a problem.
Relationships are the next piece of research for you. That’s because book marketing is all about relationships, we know this. As I mentioned above: people who know you are more inclined to give you a book endorsement (or write a foreword). Check with your list of friends and see if anyone knows your target. This could be the in you are looking for. And while you’re at it, build relationships because you’ll need them down the road. You do this by adding value; book marketing is a two-way street. You can share their stuff, help them out, and offer value to knowing you. Don’t just show up with your hand out for a book endorsement because I can almost guarantee it, you won’t get a positive response.
Next, if you have your sights set on someone, study them, know what they’ve written, what they like and don’t like. I’m so flattered when people take the time to get to know my work and even a few times where people have mentioned my dog, Cosmo. Get to know who they are, even referencing something they recently shared on social media, a trip they took, whatever. Let them know you are paying attention and that you care. When it comes to book marketing, this makes a huge difference. Ask anyone who’s ever been pitched a product, or gotten a book endorsement or a social media share.
Step Two: Create Your Pitching Package
Whether you’re seeking book endorsements/blurbs or someone to write a foreword for you, the pitch package is pretty much the same. Let’s dig into what that is.
- Your Book Cover: You should have a complete, or near-complete cover, which means that you’re probably starting pretty early in the process.
- A One-page Overview of Your Book: This can be the back copy for your book, similar to what you’d put up on your Amazon book page.
- Early Book Reviews or Book Endorsements: If you’re targeting folks for book endorsements/blurbs, you may want to include a list of those you’ve already gotten. Sometimes, if they are impressive names, it could encourage more early endorsements. Remember: people like what other people like, it’s human nature to favor something others are already viewing as positive.
- Your Table of Contents: If it’s non-fiction, this is a must.
- Book Sample: I recommend 3-5 chapters of the book.
- Pre-written Foreword, Blurbs, or Endorsements (we’ll talk about this more in a minute).
Step Three: Pre-Written Content
One thing I see that a lot of authors neglect to do, is to create some pre-written content. Yes, this means writing blurb/endorsement samples, or writing an outline for the foreword. Is this cheating? Well, yes and no. First off, in almost every case the person you’re targeting is busy. So doing this will save them some time and I can almost guarantee you that you’ll double the amount of endorsements you get. Same is true for the foreword. I am always flattered when someone asks me to write a foreword for their book, but it’s much easier for me to agree to do it if they have some pre-written content. This doesn’t mean I’ll use it verbatim, but it’s a start and a time-saver.
Generally, I’ll recommend that an author create a few different endorsements/blurbs within the package that someone can choose from. If I’m targeting someone for an endorsement, I’ll tell them that I’ve pre-written some, if they’re helpful, and they are welcome to edit them as they wish.
This step alone will almost guarantee that you’ll increase the endorsements you get three-fold. If you’ve targeted the right people for your book, I can almost guarantee this will be true for you too.
Step Four: Create Your Pitch
As much as we all know how many emails big names and influencers get, I’m still surprised at how often I see pitches that are unfocused and rambling. While I don’t get near the amount of email that a celeb or influencer does, I’m still amazed at how many unprofessional pitches I get. Consider this: regardless of how you’re pitching, your subject line is crucial and most of us have a preview on our phone, too, so aside from a crafty subject line, consider a subtitle that will be the first sentence they see before even opening the email. That’s how a lot of us scan email these days before we decide whether to open it, file it, or just dump it. And if you’re lucky enough to get an influencer to open up your email, make sure that the body of it is a tightly focused pitch that’s ideally no longer than one paragraph.
Step Five: How to Pitch Your Target
Now that you’ve done the above, it’s time to really go after what you want. Let’s say that you want some high-profile person to give you an endorsement for your book. Where do you begin? Well, you can start with their website.
I want to discourage you from pitching someone on Facebook Messenger, or via a Direct Message on Instagram or Twitter. Instead, take the time to find their contact information, which should be on their website. It’s not only smart, but good book marketing.
If their website is hard to find, they may have an agent – if it’s an author, email their publisher and see if they can direct you. For bigger names, the publisher may handle these requests.
If the person is a speaker and you’re attending an event they are at, this may be a window of opportunity for you as well. Sometimes you can connect with speakers after their talks – if you do, be sure to have your book endorsement pitch package with you so you can hand it to them, and then be sure to get their contact information (or find out who you should contact to follow up).
If your target is an actor, you’ll want to start by contacting The Screen Actors Guild to get current agent/publicist information. You can do this by calling: (323) 549-6737 if the celeb you’re looking for is LA-based. If not, head on over to www.sag.org for the current contact information for the Guild’s New York office.
Step Six: Following Up
Depending on who you are targeting for a book endorsement, the follow up piece of this may be your largest chunk of work. Why? Because the bigger the target, the busier they will be. As well, if you’re targeting a celebrity, you may have to go through layers of people to get to them, so be patient and diligent. Then follow up.
I’m a firm believer (and it’s my personal book marketing philosophy) that even the most high-profile influencers are reachable if you take the right actions to do so. Like-minded influencers will often be excited and more than willing to help you out, but the relationship doesn’t have to end there. I find that these situations often morph into very mutually beneficial long-term relationships which means that you shouldn’t drop this effort once you get your book endorsement. Stay on their radar screen, because reaching influencers is not something that has to have an end date or be a one-time thing. And of course, when you get what you’re looking for, blast it to the four corners of the earth!
So, does the search for book endorsements have to stop when your book is published? Not at all. In fact, I’ve known authors to continually go after big names to endorse their book. If book endorsements are your goal, then your book marketing shouldn’t stop when you have a handful.
Sometimes authors may start small to go big, meaning they’ll start with smaller book endorsements and build on these as the book continues to grow in popularity. If you’ve self-published your book, it becomes fairly easy to update your cover with a new book endorsement, though often these are just added to the author’s Amazon page.
A great book endorsement, or foreword from an industry influencer can be a great way to give your book the leg up it needs and help it to stand out from the competition. It just takes some time, effort, and a little planning!
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This is an awesome read and is really helpful. Thank you so much!
Thanks, Lisa! I appreciate knowing this is helpful to you. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re looking for more marketing guidance.
Fantastic article and very helpful in navigating the confusing maze of book promotion advice. My book is such a unique niche, that trying to understand who would be the best influencer has been a challenging endeavor. Thank you for the great article.
Hi there Nicole, So glad to hear our articles are helping writers like you navigate the book marketing world. It is a bit of a confusing maze sometimes, especially when a book has a unique niche such as yours. I’d be happy to cover this aspect of your book promotion during a consultation if you’re interested so please feel free to reach out.
Penny –this was amazing information! I feel so confident in my efforts to secure some major endorsements. Of course nothing is guaranteed, but you have given me so much ammunition I’m so sure I will procure at least a handful of my combined A-B-C list.
Thank you for sharing your expertise. It is greatly appreciated.