7 Keys to Getting Book Blurbs
by Marcia Yudkin
"But I don't know anyone important or influential,"
protested a client recently when I suggested he get some
high-powered quotes for his to-be-published book.
You don't need to be a familiar name or face to someone
to request comments on your book (or on your business).
Ordinary mortals whom I know have received blurbs from
luminaries like Senator Bob Dole and the Dalai Lama.
Whether you're self-publishing or
publishing through an established publisher, it's
smart to jazz up your back book cover, web site and
promotional material with endorsements - little quotes
from authors and other prominent people whose opinion
Anyone can get influential quotes,
whether or not you think you know influential
people. It's important, however, to keep some
basic principles in mind and to use courtesy in
dealing with potential blurb writers. Based on
my experience in both giving and getting blurbs,
DO cast your net beyond people
you personally know. If you know and admire
someone's work, you can get their attention by
tying your admiration of them to the theme of your
book. Depending on the topic you've written
about, it might be appropriate to approach
politicians, entertainers, company presidents,
heads of associations or prominent people who
share your hobbies or passions as well as other
authors. Flattery helps, especially if it's specific and sincere.
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DON'T assume that the person will write a quote without
seeing the whole book manuscript. I may not be typical
here, but I know I'm not alone. I find it highly insulting
and foolhardy when someone asks me to endorse a book I have
not read or on the basis of seeing one-twentieth of the
contents. Remember that the other person's credibility is
on the line. For some of us, our credibility is
DO be willing to provide a printout of the whole
manuscript. As more and more work is done on computers, more and more people can't bear the thought
of reading a long manuscript on screen. They
prefer to read a printed version. Some people will read a
printed manuscript on the train or over the weekend at
their beach house. Offer that as an option, whether or not
it costs you $25 extra. Remember that the other person's
credibility is on the line in endorsing you. Go the extra
mile to make it convenient for them.
DON'T react angrily if the person chooses not to endorse
the book. Someone discussing blurbs used the expression "got
stiffed" in reference to someone who declined to provide an
endorsement. The people you are asking for endorsements
owe you nothing. Be gracious about a refusal and do not
argue with any unsolicited feedback you receive. I've been
asked to endorse some books that, to my mind, were clearly
very far from being ready for publication and got roundly
cursed in very colorful terms for my refusal. Ten years
later, I remember those incidents very clearly.
DO follow up if you don't hear anything. In most cases I
look at the book or manuscript immediately when I receive
it. But I'm not always in the mood to write the
endorsement immediately. I have three projects in my
office right now in that category, where if someone had
followed up promptly after sending me the review copy, I
would have put my thoughts together for them. More than
half the time when I am asked for an endorsement, there is
no follow up at all.
DON'T send anything riddled with errors. Whether or not
there's a disclaimer on the galleys/proofs/manuscript that
it's uncorrected, if I am constantly distracted by typos
and factual mistakes while reading I will put it aside
permanently. Remember, the other person's credibility is
on the line in endorsing you, and no one wants their blurb
to show up on a printed book that is as uncorrected as the
version sent out for endorsements.
DO offer unsolicited
endorsements yourself when the opportunity
arises. I just sent one off this
morning. It sends positive energy around the
planet, can spark a potential beneficial business
relationship and sometimes triggers curiosity
about you in someone who reads your printed blurb.
Happy blurb hunting!
Copyright 2005 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.