How to get awesome book cover blurbs

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission (at no extra charge to you). 

While many authors refer to their book’s description as their “blurb,” the established publishing industry uses “book blurb” when referring to a book testimonial or endorsement from someone who influences target readers. Soliciting blurbs is part of the publishing process, so much so that editors often expect to see a list of potential “blurbers” in an author’s book proposal.

One of my claims to fame is that I wrote a book cover blurb that appears next to one written by MLB Network sportscaster Bob Costas.

Costas is cool, ergo, I am cool. (Right?)

Exhibit A

Costas and I wrote blurbs for Kevin Quirk’s Not Now Honey, I’m Watching the Game: What to Do When Sports Come Between You and Your Mate. The Costas connection is obvious; I was asked because I’m the author of a humor book about male behavior. See Exhibit A below.

book blurbs
Exhibit A

This illustrates a key point about soliciting testimonials you’ll use on your cover, website, and retail site sales page: You want to ask people with a connection to your book’s topic or category, whether it’s nonfiction or fiction.

With nonfiction books, you want blurbs from people respected for their subject matter expertise or their accomplishments in your field. For novelists, testimonials from people with recognized names in your genre are golden.

9-step process for snagging book cover blurbs

Many authors are intimidated by the idea of soliciting testimonials. Some don’t like the idea of reaching out to strangers, others are uncomfortable asking people they know to do what seems like a favor. Many don’t mind asking, but don’t know how to do it.

Good book blurbs can influence buyers, though, so you want to push past anxiety or discomfort and work to get at least one or two you’d be proud to share on your cover.

Follow these nine steps and you’ll come through the process with an awesome blurb and a big smile.

1. Do your research. 

You want the right people providing cover blurbs for your book.

I often receive blurb requests from authors who subscribe to my newsletter. Most of the time, their books have no connection to me or my expertise.

I usually decline the invitation to “blurb the book,” but not because I’m not interested or too busy. It’s because I want them to give that valuable cover real estate to someone in their field or genre who has clout with their potential readers. When that’s not me, I encourage them to find someone more appropriate.

2. Build relationships with influencers long before you need them.

Lay the groundwork for your blurb requests by identifying the right people months — years, even — before you need or want an endorsement.

Speak to them at conferences. Share their content on social media. Comment on their blog posts.

In an ideal world, they will recognize your name when you contact them for a book testimonial.

3. Shoot for the top, then work your way down. 

If a celebrity has a connection to your topic and can help you sell books, then go ahead and ask. You can get the contact information you need from the “Contact Any Celebrity” database.

What’s the worst that can happen? You never hear back from them. Can you survive that? Of course you can. You just eat cookies and move on.

Celebrities, by the way, aren’t necessarily the people we see on TV and in movies. They can be the rock stars of your industry, too.

4. Decide how many testimonials you want.

Start with a longer list than you need because not everyone will be able to provide a testimonial. Some won’t respond; others will decline to participate.

5. Use e-mail to make your request. 

A traditional publisher will take care of much of this for you, often tapping into connections editors have with other authors in your genre.

If you’re a traditionally published author with a strong network, consider emailing your target influencers yourself. People are more likely to say, “I can’t do it” to a stranger than to a friend or colleague.

When you’re self-published, you’re responsible for this task. But you know that, and you’re up for it.

6. Don’t worry about getting “too many” endorsements. 

Keep in mind that this is a numbers game. If you want four testimonials and you heard back from eight people who agreed to provide one, you’ll probably get at least four blurbs.

But what if all eight deliver the goods?

No problem. You’ll pick the best for the front cover, the next best for the back cover (if you have one), and you’ll put the rest in the “Editorial Reviews” section of your Amazon sales page.

You can also add them to the front pages of your book and to other retail sales pages, create quote cards — image quotes — with them, and showcase them on your website.

7. Send the manuscript. 

Once people have committed to blurbing your book, email a PDF file of the edited manuscript.

Why do you want to send an edited, rather than unedited, manuscript? Because your endorsers need to see your book in as final form as is reasonable for your publication timeline. You can’t expect them to endorse a flawed product.

If the timing is such that the book hasn’t been proofread yet, be certain to tell them that so they are aware of the situation.

8. Send a reminder a few days before the deadline. 

Be friendly. Ask if they have questions. Offer more specifics about the book.

When Peter Bowerman followed up with me about a blurb for the second edition of his The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, he included information on what made his book different from others on the topic. That gave me context while helping me zero in on what readers needed to know about this edition.

9. Thank people when they send their blurbs.

You can never thank people who have helped you enough.

And guess what? Lots of people forget to take this step. Don’t be one of them.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Move past your fear of rejection when requesting blurbs by asking yourself this question: “What’s the worst that can happen?”

The worst is that you will get no blurbs, endorsements, or testimonials. I suspect you can live with that.

Clearly, the risk is worth the reward.

Need help finding your way through this process? Get more detailed instructions on how to identify the right people and solicit blurbs plus insider secrets on working with celebrities, samples of requests that have netted glowing testimonials, and tools you can use to track your requests in our popular training program, “Blurbs, Endorsements, and Testimonials: How to Get Experts, Authorities, Celebrities, and Others to Endorse Your Book.”

What’s your biggest challenge with getting testimonials for your book cover?

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in October 2013. It has been updated and expanded.)

Tip of the Month

headline analyzerI like to share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.

This month it’s CoSchedule’s fascinating headline analyzer. Use it to improve sales page and blog post headlines, but give it a try for a nonfiction book title or subtitle, too.

CoSchedule offers software tools that help streamline and automate social media marketing. This free tool is the “lead magnet” the company uses to capture your contact information and add you to a mailing list.

In exchange for that, your free analysis takes into account your word choices and headline length before suggesting improvements such as “use more words with emotion.” It’s more than a fair trade.

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


  1. Great tips, as usual, Sandra!

    I was fortunate enough to get book blurbs from a former teacher who writes the same genre as I do, and a couple of writer friends just starting out themselves.

    I really want to step it up for my four book series and these tips will help!

    1. I’m so glad you had a good experience, Elke. Think ahead for that series — start making the connections you need now.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Hello Sandra,
    Thank for the buildbook buzz. I’ve got 4 children’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and I’m finding ways to market them. Should you have some good free suggestions. Please let me know, I’ll appreciate them.
    I thank you in advance, and I wish you a wonderful day.
    All the best.

  3. Everything was excellent — I’ve been gathering blurbs for nearly 40 years now! The only suggestion I might take issue with is the one to send your first request as an email. Now I realize that this is the least costly way — and that you can attach a free ebook with the email, perhaps. But I’m old-fashioned — still — and believe that typed letters on professional stationary, signed by you, and mailed through the U.S. Postal System are far more effective — a bit more costly but a worthy investment. And remember to get your blurbs well before publication date and to use them not only on the book but on the website. You can even ask if you can use any of them as reviews to post on online booksites. Good luck and thanks for such great information.

    1. Thanks, Susan. While I agree that a mailed letter gets noticed, you have to be thoughtful about who you send that letter to. If you’re soliciting a Millennial, for example, the recipient might think that a typed letter is too “old school” and assume the book’s content isn’t current or relevant. That said…no matter how young or old you are, you will notice a hand-written, USPS-mailed thank you note for that blurb you provided!


  4. I agree Susan. It’s worth shooting for a high profile. I felt I had nothing to lose when I asked the agent for Ron Hall (author of Same Kind of Different as Me) if he might write a Forward for my first book and he ended up not only writing one, but contacting me personally just to say how much he enjoyed the book.
    Same with getting blurbs…reach out and expect the best.Often even celebrities will endorse a well written piece if it resonates with them.

    1. I’m glad you like my 2nd point, Kathy: “Shoot for the top.” It sounds like you got the foreword you wanted. Congratulations!


  5. Thanks for the encouraging tips!

    My greatest difficulty in getting blurbs is the lack of connections–but that will change for the next book. I am working on it daily!

    The only expert I knew when I published my first book did not respond to my emails. Do I get to eat the cookies 2 years later?

    I have, however, received positive feedback from therapists who have read my book and a professor of domestic violence counseling. Are these appropriate, even though these people aren’t famous? Is it too late to add them to my (back) cover? Thanks!

    1. First, Sonia, don’t limit your requests to people you know. I’ve gotten blurbs from total strangers who had the right connection to my topic so they were happy to oblige. Many are flattered to be asked.

      And no, it’s not too late to use those endorsements. You want to get their permission first, though, and share with them exactly the feedback text or excerpt from their message that you’d like to use and the name and title you’ll use for attribution.


      Thanks for asking!


  6. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked to provide a blurb on the basis of a couple of sample chapters. I will never endorse a book without seeing the whole thing (and I don’t believe anyone else should, either). Why? Because the endorser’s credibility is on the line. Suppose there’s something awful in chapters 7 and 8 when the author has given you only chapters 1-3 to look at? Your name and reputation remain on the book cover.

    1. I absolutely agree, Marcia. Someone asked me to blurb a book and sent the first chapter. No thanks. In theory, you’re being asked to endorse the book because of your reputation, so why risk it?


  7. Hi Sandy: thanks so much for this roadmap and encouraging push. It’s so hard to ask for things….
    My question is one I can’t seem to find an answer to, and I’ve been searching for a while. I was lucky enough to obtain some pretty high-profile interviews for my book. One is a global expert who’s been in the field for fifty years, and the other is the director of a major research institute. Their insight is included in my book, and because I’m such a fangirl of both, I praise them briefly, but pretty profusely, when I introduce them in the text. Is it inappropriate for me to ask them for a blurb when they’re in the book?

    1. What a great question, Karen! To answer you, I put myself in the shoes of someone who might be interviewed for and quoted in a book, and how I might respond to a subsequent request for a blurb. If the author followed up and asked for a blurb, too, I’d decline, saying it feels like an either/or situation — either I’m quoted, or I provide a blurb. Otherwise, it feels like double-dipping. That’s just me — other people see these things differently — but I would err on the side of caution and not ask them rather than risk looking like you’re asking for too much. I hope that helps — and I wonder how others would handle this situation.


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