7 Keys to Getting Book Blurbs

“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 has weight.

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, here’s how.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 everything.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Marcia Yudkin is the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity, 3rd edition (Career Press) and 10 other books. Sign up for her free Marketing Minute newsletter to receive a free tip on creative marketing or publicity every Wednesday: http://www.yudkin.com/markmin.htm

Learn more about publishing and marketing your writing with Marcia Yudkin.