How to get awesome book cover blurbs

Bob CostasOne of my claims to fame is that I wrote a book cover blurb that appears next to one written by NBC sportscaster Bob Costas. Costas is cool, ergo, I am cool. (Right?)

Bob and I wrote testimonials 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.

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 blurbs

Many authors are intimidated by the idea of soliciting testimonials. Some don’t like the idea of reaching out to strangers, many are uncomfortable asking people they know to do what seems like a favor, and others 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 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. Sometimes I receive blurb requests from people who subscribe to my newsletter and who have written books that have no connection to me or my expertise. I decline because I want them to give that valuable back cover real estate to someone in their field or genre who has clout with their potential readers. If it’s not me, I encourage them to find someone more appropriate.

2. 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. What’s the worse that can  happen? You never hear back from them. Can you survive that? Of course you can. You just eat cookies and move on. Use the “Contact Any Celebrity” database to get contact information. 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.

3. 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.

4. Go bold or go home.

Add a few rock stars to your list. What’s the worst that can happen? They say “no.” Big deal. In addition to the big name influential people, include people who are influential but not stars and others you feel certain will provide a testimonial.

fingers typing5. 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. In situations where you’re traditionally published but want to contact people you know personally, and when you’re self-published, the request should come from you, not your publisher. People are more likely to say, “I can’t do it” to a stranger than to a friend or colleague.

6. Decide if you want to follow-up with those who didn’t respond.

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. That means there’s no need to follow up with non-responders. But if it’s important to you to get a blurb from someone on your “A list” and none of them responded to your first request, then follow-up.

7. Send the manuscript.

Ask the publisher to do this if you have one, but instruct people on your list to e-mail the testimonial to you, not the publisher. That allows you to monitor progress, send reminders, and thank people as they submit their testimonials.

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

Be friendly. Ask if they have questions. When Peter Bowerman followed up with me about a blurb for the 2014 second edition of his The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, he included a list of what made his book different from others on the topic.

9. Thank people when they send their blurbs.

You can never thank people who have helped you enough.

For more information on how to do this, insider secrets on working with celebrities, and samples of  requests that have netted glowing testimonials, check out the resources in my 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?


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14 Responses to How to get awesome book cover blurbs
  1. Elke Feuer
    October 22, 2013 | 7:29 pm

    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!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 22, 2013 | 7:42 pm

      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!

      Sandy

  2. Flora Morris Brown
    October 23, 2013 | 12:49 pm

    Hi Sandra,

    This is showing up in my life right on time. Thanks for the vital tips, encouragement, and valuable resource.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 23, 2013 | 1:36 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that, Flora! I hope you get the outcome you want and need.

      : )

      Sandy

  3. Jane
    October 24, 2013 | 1:42 pm

    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.
    Jane

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 24, 2013 | 1:50 pm

      Congratulations, Jane! You’ll get lots of free info in my newsletter twice a month, on this blog, and on the tips page here (http://buildbookbuzz.com/tips), but you might find this blog post, “How to sell children’s books,” especially helpful: http://bit.ly/VnsfcA .

      Sandy

  4. Susan Terkel
    October 29, 2013 | 1:53 pm

    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.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 29, 2013 | 2:16 pm

      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!

      Sandy

  5. Kathy
    October 30, 2013 | 2:47 am

    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.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 30, 2013 | 2:18 pm

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

      Sandy

  6. KathyMcIntosh
    October 31, 2013 | 4:10 am

    Perfect timing, excellent ideas. You are proving to be a wonderful source of information. Thank you!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 31, 2013 | 2:44 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that, Kathy! Thanks for stopping by.

      Sandy

  7. Jeff Guenther
    June 8, 2016 | 7:39 pm

    A very kind and thoughtful post. Many thanks.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 8, 2016 | 7:43 pm

      You are so welcome, Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Sandy

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