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.
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?