Advance Praise: Why You Want It & How to Get Endorsements for Your Book
We’ve all seen them: ringing endorsements from famous people (and those we’ve never heard of, but who are likely famous in some circle we should know about) lining the front and back covers of books, sometimes even filling the first few pages.
But what are these endorsements for? Do they even matter? And as an author, once you’ve secured endorsements from your highly influential readers, what do you do with them?
Do I need early endorsements?
Endorsements are just what they sound like: laudatory words from key people who’ve read a book and agree with its ideas, love its prose, and think the author is the bee’s knees. The endorser may have read an early manuscript, or an Advance Reading Copy or galley made from typeset pages. Their resulting opinion, usually delivered in a few sentences, is called an endorsement, blurb, or advance praise.
The reason for seeking blurbs is to build early buzz about a book that can be used on the cover and in marketing materials. Sending out early copies with a request for a short blurb starts the conversation, ideally among the target audience.
Advance praise: how do I get it?
When seeking blurbs, it’s best to be respectful of the reader’s time, giving them plenty of time to read the book and possibly pointing out some key areas you’d like them to address in their blurb. Remind the reader that you’re giving them an opportunity to get in at the ground floor, among the first to read your book.
Choose a wide variety of readers—men and women, authors and CEOS alike. The intended audience—the person who is going to buy and read your book—uses blurbs as a way to gauge what type of person reads this book? and how can I be part of that conversation by reading this book? You don’t need all your blurbs to be by Cheryl Strayed or Sheryl Sandberg—know your audience. Maybe it will be more important for them, and more crucial to your topic, if the CEO of Starbucks or the general manager of a local restaurant chain blurbs your book.
Blurbs: what are they good for?
Publishers tend to position a short, snazzy blurb on the front cover, and longer versions on the back. The idea is to include a selly blurb that captures the main reason why readers can’t resist this book—and that complements the descriptive copy supplied by the publisher.
“The most important book you’ll read on genetics.” Influential Person, Very Important Organization
Sometimes a potential endorser has a “no blurb” policy, but they’ll tweet their support. Depending on your audience, a tweet or Facebook post could carry even more impact than a blurb on a front cover. Remember that a cover shrinks down to about an inch online, making the front cover blurb teeny tiny—it’s better to broadcast that blurb in the descriptive copy that follows and/or in a social media post that can be shared and retweeted.
Sometimes there are enough blurbs, or more fulsome blurbs, that necessitate having a praise page inside the book, before the title page. These praise pages often appear in later editions of books, especially paperbacks, and mix newspaper and magazine reviews in with the advance praise.
You can include blurbs on your book’s online sales page (e.g., Amazon and Indigo) and also on your website and on printed promotional materials. Blurbs are a nice precursor to reader reviews, which can’t appear on a book’s Amazon page until the book is on sale. After the publication date, blurbs are a companion to these reader comments and (hopefully) five-star reviews.
Finally, your on-sale date arrives. You’ve done your due diligence, selecting a cover and copy that will capture your reader. You’ve carefully curated a tidy array of blurbs that you’ve also shared online. Great! Now the real moment has come: beginning the conversation with your readers. Because that, after all, is the main purpose of publishing: connecting authors with readers. Seeking blurbs is only one piece of the equation—an important one, but just one part—that sets the stage for the essential work your book is doing.