One of the most uncomfortable realities of being a writer is asking for blurbs (a.k.a. endorsements). On the enjoyability meter, it ranks somewhere between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and having bamboo spikes driven under your toenails.
Before my last novel The Telling released, I determined to aim high for endorsers. Nothing but “big names.” I contacted a dozen high-profile authors, most of whom I’d had personal contact with, about blurbing the book. When the publication deadline was reached, I had approximately…
Needless to say, the process was quite a let-down.
For whatever reason, I am now in the weird position of having authors ask me for blurbs. Which kind of sucks. Don’t get me wrong, it is flattering that one’s name would be considered a positive commodity. Furthermore, it’s good form to throw writerly love around, whether it’s in asking for or giving endorsements. Bottom line: Being asked to endorse another writer’s book is an awesome problem to have.
The sucky part of this deal is being caught between wanting to be a “blurb whore,” endorsing everything, and only wanting to endorse books and authors I can genuinely get behind.
There’s a downside to both these extremes:
- The author who endorses everything loses credibility, especially when books they endorse turn out to be not-so-good.
- The author who only endorses books they genuinely like looks like a snobby elitist who lets taste interfere with friendship.
So I had to contact a couple of author friends recently and tell them I couldn’t endorse their books. I felt like a total schmuck. I couldn’t offer an endorsement not because I didn’t like their books, but because I didn’t read them. I was too swamped with my own projects. Perhaps I need to rethink my standards for endorsement. Do I really need to read a book in its entirety and enjoy it before I can attach my name to the title? Why not just endorse the book and stop being a jerk?
Anyway, I felt like a piece of garbage.
When it comes to blurbing etiquette, maybe that’s the first piece of advice I’d give:
When you ask an author for an endorsement, you are potentially putting them in a place to feel like a schmuck.
Respect that. They probably don’t like saying “no” to you. You’re not the only one whose career, reputation, and time is in the balance here.
When seeking endorsements to simply be polite. Use terms like, “Would you consider endorsing my latest novel…” or “If time allows…” Don’t act like a blurb is pending. Or even worse, like your author friend owes it to you. And by all means, do not keep score. By that I mean, “So-and-so never gave me an endorsement so I’m never buying another one of their books.” Dude, don’t take it personally.
When the potential endorser says they’re unable to endorse your book at this time, please — please — don’t pout. This is the time when bridges can be strengthened and industry relationships are built.
Perhaps your response to NOT getting an endorsement may pave the way for future endorsements.
When said author says they can’t blurb you, write them back and thank them for considering. Don’t go sulking into the shadows. Don’t hang up and leave static. Tell them you appreciate their time, you understand how busy everyone is, and wish them luck on their current projects. The worst thing you can do after an author informs you they can’t supply a blurb is to start sniping at them. “Why not? You recently blurbed so-and-so’s book and theirs isn’t half as good as mine.”
Fail. A thousand times over—fail.
Be gracious and thankful for the blurbs you receive, and if you haven’t received any yet, “Keep asking. Keep knocking. And keep seeking.” When an author approaches you for an endorsement, you’ll have a richer appreciation for this ugly affair.
All that to say, those authors who were unable to endorse my last book can be expecting another email for my next book. I am not too shy to keep asking. You shouldn’t be either.
As an author, do you have any experience with endorsements—either asking for them, or being asked? As a reader, how much do you pay attention to the blurbs on books?
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Mike Duran is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, and blogs regularly about faith and culture. Mike’s novels include The Telling, The Resurrection, an ebook novella, Winterland, and his newly released short story anthology Subterranea You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.
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