To Endorse or Not to Endorse

Dear Rachelle,

Do you have any feelings either way about the value of endorsing someone’s book? Publisher X has sent me a request. It’s an average book but I could probably find something good to say. Thoughts?

Your Totally In-Demand Client


Dear Ms. In-Demand Author:

It’s flattering that someone believes your endorsement might help sell books, so enjoy it! While there are conflicting opinions on this, many people take endorsements seriously and will decide for or against a book based on the blurbs. (I once bought a book from an unknown, first time, never-heard-of-him author simply because there was a raving endorsement on the front cover from Stephen King. I ended up loving the book, my husband loved it, we passed it among our friends who all loved it – and we looked really smart! The book went on to become a successful movie.) Take your blurbing responsibilities seriously.

Mainly you want to try and avoid attaching your name to books you honestly don’t like. Other than that, it’s fine to endorse if you’re asked and if you have time, especially at the early stage of your career when it’s a good idea to get your name out there as much as possible.

Never commit to endorsing before you’ve read the manuscript. Instead say, “I’d be happy to read your manuscript and consider the possibility of endorsing.” Then read the MS asap so that if you are going to decide against it, you’ll have time to let the author know that it’s not going to work out this time (but maybe next time).

As time goes by and you receive more requests for endorsement, you may want to come up with a policy for yourself, such as “I only consider four books a year for possible endorsement.” That will help you be choosy and only endorse the ones you really want to.

The situation can sometimes feel awkward – after all, these authors are probably asking you because you’re a friend or acquaintance. Have a personal policy in place, and always give yourself a way to decline gracefully if necessary.

Your Agent Who Always Has An Opinion

Q4U: What importance do you place on cover blurbs (endorsements) when making a decision to buy a book?

(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Jessica Lynne Martin on March 2, 2015 at 11:57 AM

    Thanks for sharing.

    I have yet to publish my first indie novel, but was recently asked by someone I’d just recently connected with on Twitter to endorse her upcoming book.

    I just received the manuscript, and it’s very rough (and outside of the genre I normally read/write).

    I don’t know how to politely decline at this point, but your post has helped bolster my confidence in saying “No thank you.”

  2. Snappoint on December 11, 2011 at 1:53 AM


    Wonderful blog post, saw on…

  3. 6 Books Endorsing Sites | Hold Your Future on November 10, 2011 at 6:11 AM

    […] To Endorse or Not to Endorse | Rachelle GardnerAug 31, 2010 Do you have any feelings either way about the value of endorsing someone's book? Publisher X has […]

  4. Donnie on November 7, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Great articles & Nice a site….

  5. Horserider on September 3, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    >I place absolutely no value on blurbs. Even those from Stephen King.

    The only impact a blurb might have on me is if I see one from an author I DON'T like on the cover of a book. It probably won't make me not buy the book, but it might turn me off from picking it up if I already have a full stack.

  6. Dianne E. Butts on September 2, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    >I have to read blurbs–just can't skip them. But I used to give blurbs more credit than I do now because it often seems like it is just gushing, one friend for another, no matter how well the book is written. I've read a lot of great blurbs on some not so great books. If I'm ever asked to endorse a book, I hope to only write what I really mean–which might make it sticky when I don't think a friend's book is well-written or don't agree with its theology. Yikes.

  7. Anonymous on September 1, 2010 at 6:10 AM

    >I do read the endorsements, but give as much weight to a Amazon Top review as to a recognised name. Authors giving a glowing endorsement when it isn't justified do affect my perception of them and the likelyhood I will buy THEIR work again. I tend to review an author's comments as being a friendly review from someone from the same stable and not reliable. A particular bugbear of mine are books reviewed as 'made me laugh out loud' when the book isn't remotely comic or at most contains one mildly amusing incident. I've read this so often on the covers that I don't believe it anymore. Also why do a series of books have the same comments – not much use to me as a buyer. If it is general series catchall comment rather than related to the current book it should say so.

  8. Anna L. Walls on September 1, 2010 at 12:08 AM

    >I'd rather have a sample of the book inside the front cover, or read the first page or two to decide whether to buy a book or not. Endorsement blurbs are so much white noise to me.

  9. Botanist on August 31, 2010 at 9:37 PM

    >I don't pay any attention to blurbs, no matter who they're from. The thing that most often makes up my mind is reading the first page or so. Not necessarily looking for action, but looking for something that gives me the confidence that I won't waste my time if I read on. Next biggest factor is probably a personal recommendation from someone I trust.

  10. Anonymous on August 31, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    >Frankly, when I see debut or unknown authors "endorsing" other newbies, to me it often smacks of desperation–especially if there are too many blurbs. After checking out the cover, title and teaser, I just read the first few graphs and/or middle pages and form my own opinion.

  11. Erin MacPherson on August 31, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    >I definitely read the cover blurbs… it helps me to see what other people are saying about it. So, it's good to know that people aren't just endorsing on a whim, but are making decisions with some thought.

  12. Nicole MacDonald on August 31, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    >I get intensely annoyed when I read a book following a blurb recommendation and it sucks… I'd be very careful before recommending a book and putting my name to it.

  13. Tori [Book Faery] on August 31, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    >My favorite author wrote a blurb for a book I absolutely hated. The writing was good, but the heroine drove me absolutely nuts.

    After that… well, I don't take blurbs into consideration.

  14. Alexis Grant on August 31, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    >Hm. This is also interesting from the opposite perspective — what we should think about as authors when approaching other authors to write blurbs for our books.

    Thanks, Rachelle!

  15. Jessica on August 31, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    >Endorsements matter very little when I'm choosing a book. The description is the most important as well as great reviews from others, but not necessarily best-selling authors. I also hate to say it, but an appealing book cover encourages me to pick up a book and read the back cover.

  16. Rochelle Barlow on August 31, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    >I have actually found many great authors through endorsements. I definitely pay attention to them. If I am not completely sold on a book and then see that an author I like has endorsed it I will buy the book. So, make sure you only endorse books you actually like, or people may begin to question your judgement!

  17. Autore on August 31, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    >If a publisher is asking your opinion I'd give it. Truthfully, let them decide if they want to print it or not.

  18. AlexOngNYC on August 31, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    >I correlate an author's endorsement to when movies tout "produced-by" or "brought to you by the people who did…", and ignore it and form my own desire or opinion to pick it up or not.

  19. Ava Pennington on August 31, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    >Interesting and timely discussion for me…
    My first book (a one-year devotional) will release in October, and Kay Arthur's endorsement appears on the cover.
    I am curious to see what, if any, impact this endorsement will have, especially in light of all the comments on this blog noting that endorsements have no influence on purchasing choices!

  20. Katherine Hyde on August 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    >For fiction, a blurb might prompt me to pick up a book and open it. But whether I buy it/check it out of the library or not depends on my read of the first few paragraphs. If the writing doesn't hook me, no blurb will.

    For nonfiction (ordinary, not "creative"), I might take the blurbs more seriously, because there it's more about content than the quality of the writing.

  21. C Scott Morris on August 31, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    >Blubs don't draw my attention to a book, nor do they help me decide if I am going to purchase it.
    I do, however, pay attention to book reviews, especially if a book is mentioned on the blog of an author I who's work I enjoy.
    Book reviews take more effort, and seem to be more genuine, while blurbs, as I understand them, are often traded about by editors and authors alike.
    As a writer, though, I fully plan to take full advantage of blurbs, once my book gets picked up. Cross your fingers. And being asked by an agent or editor to give a blurb, well, that will be a highlight of being published. A sign that you have arrived.

  22. Rosslyn Elliott on August 31, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    >Rachelle, I'm glad you posted on this topic. Some of the other comments today reflect what I was thinking yesterday after your post on reviews. If we are indiscriminate with words of praise, even when a book hasn't earned them, readers won't trust our endorsements. That's why I tend toward the 'particular' when it comes to giving out endorsements or reviews. Why do we know Stephen King will tell us the truth as he sees it about a book? Because he always does. 🙂 And he takes some heat as a consequence.

    Gabriela, I'm a client of Rachelle's. If you would like to know about how I handled my first experience of asking for author endorsements, click through my profile to my blog and go to my post of March 29th.

  23. Kathy on August 31, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    >I always look at the blurbs, just to see what people say about the book. Generally I like seeing that authors I've read have read and enjoyed the book I'm getting ready to read. But, generally, I don't let author blurbs sway me in my decision to read the book. They may like it, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to like it.

    Although, I have found that generally, if an author I like enjoyed the book, I usually do as well.

  24. Teenage Bride on August 31, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    >Haha I love your signature… you crack me up.

  25. grace on August 31, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    >I actually value blurbs very little. I mean, you can always find someone who likes a book, even someone famous/respected. There are probably the same number of famous/respected people who dislike it. A full-on review is of more value to me, even a negative one; if I know exactly and in-depthly what someone thinks of a book, I can judge more clearly if I agree with their opinion.

  26. Stephanie McGee on August 31, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    >Great advice. Blurbs are one of those many little details that I've been learning about since setting out to learn as much as possible about the road to publication.

    I have to say I read blurbs, but I don't give them any weight. I always used to think that the author who wrote it probably got paid oodles and oodles to read the book and write a little snippet for it.

    I know now that it's unlikely the blurbing author got paid, but I still give them very little consideration.

  27. Ishta Mercurio on August 31, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    >If the blurb is by an author or other person whom I respect, it matters; otherwise, it's a non-issue.

  28. Suzi McGowen on August 31, 2010 at 7:51 AM

    >I don't even notice blurbs. Unless it comes from one author that I'm boycotting, and then only because the name would hit my radar warning system.

  29. Susan Bourgeois on August 31, 2010 at 7:34 AM

    >I read blurbs and anything else that catches my eye before I make a purchase. I want to get as much information possible before I make the decision to buy the book.

  30. Timothy Fish on August 31, 2010 at 7:33 AM

    >I've said before that I'll have my characters write my book blurbs. The thing I've noticed about book blurbs is how often several well known authors will endorse a book with words that make me wonder if they read the same book I did. I realize it's good business to have your name on the cover of someone else's book, but it would be nice if these blurbs actually rang true with the book.

  31. Richard Mabry on August 31, 2010 at 7:30 AM

    >Great advice. Like many others who've commented, I pay attention to endorsements mainly if I know the person offering them (and whether they endorse lightly or are very particular).

    When it comes to asking for an endorsement for my own work, I was hesitant at first but soon discovered that the worst thing that could happen would be to get turned down, while the best outcome would be to get a killer endorsement. But it's definitely in order to make it "read with an eye to endorsement," so they can make their own decision.

    What about deciding not to ask because the author might be too busy? I sent a request to a very well-known medical suspense author in the general market whom I didn't know (although we have a mutual acquaintance) and got a "Sure, send it on" reply. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  32. lynnrush on August 31, 2010 at 7:20 AM

    >Great advice. For sure read the book before agreeing. Love how you phrased it in your post. That's perfect!!

    Blurbs are HUGE for me. Then the first page or two is second when it comes to buying the book. It's got to start with a ton of action for me to be interested.

    Thanks for this post. Great stuff here.

  33. Amy Sue Nathan on August 31, 2010 at 7:12 AM

    >Being part of a large (huge) online writer, author and publishing community means that I look at blurbs and sometimes *know* authors are friends or that they've blurbed each other's books. I give those blurbs no credence. Honestly, I don't give blurbs attention at all, and even before I knew it was sometimes true, I always assumed the people blurbing either had the same agent or publisher or did it as a favor. It does not impact my reading at all.

    I do give a lot of weight to personal recommendations both from online and IRL friends.

  34. Gabriela Lessa on August 31, 2010 at 6:48 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle. What about on the other end of things? How do you go about choosing and approaching someone to ask for endorsement?

  35. Wendy Paine Miller on August 31, 2010 at 6:29 AM

    >Of the last five books I’ve bought, three of them had strong endorsements that made me go from wavering to buying. Endorsements were from Jodi Picoult, Frank McCourt and Stephen King.

    Wise advice for authors about setting boundaries and creating policies. I imagine this gets tricky.
    ~ Wendy

  36. Laura Pauling on August 31, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    >I don't pay attention blurbs but they sure look good to get a big name on a debut book!

  37. Sara on August 31, 2010 at 6:13 AM

    >I have heard some authors say only certain sentences of their review were used and, out of context, they gave a very different meaning than what was actually written. So even if I respect the author I am cautious of taking blurbs at face value. I do consider them though.


  38. Laura Jane Thompson on August 31, 2010 at 6:07 AM

    >I usually don't even look at the blurb until I've got the book at home, in my lap. It doesn't influence my buying the book, but it will cast a shadow on the book before I begin reading, altering my expectations (either positively or negatively).

    Sometimes, after reading a novel, I'll wonder if the famous author blurbed on the front cover actually read the book before endorsing it.

  39. Katie Ganshert on August 31, 2010 at 5:16 AM

    >I'm not sure how much attention the general public pays, but as a writer, I always look at the endorsements (and the acknowledgement page – that's one of my favorites!). I'm always curious to see which authors have read it and what they think.

    If I ever got to the point in my writing career where people actually wanted me to endorse their book, I think saying no might be one of the most awkward things I'd ever have to do. Because if I asked an author to endorse my book, their rejection would hurt (and throw me into a world of doubt, I'm sure). I'd hate to do that to a friend or acquaintance, but I also wouldn't want to endorse a book I wasn't in love with. Yikes! It would definitely be a sticky situation that would need to be handled with lots of sensitivity.

  40. Tessa Quin on August 31, 2010 at 4:54 AM

    >Not much. I'll be shot for saying this, but I place more importance on the cover. Also the title. And then, of course, the teaser on the back.

    I did read the Mortal Instrument series because Stephenie Meyer wrote about how much she loved them on her homepage. But that's about it.

  41. Marja on August 31, 2010 at 3:00 AM

    >None at all! Really, I do not place any importance on cover hubs, since they're always raving and positive and I always find them on books that don't need it. Be honest: does John Grisham really needs 85 different reviews and endorsements? I skip over 'm… as far as new authors are concerned… that is word of mouth, most of the time.

  42. Adam Heine on August 31, 2010 at 2:58 AM

    >Blurbs are last on the list of things that determine if I'll buy a book. Even if it's from an author I admire, who's to say they have the same taste in books as I do?

  43. Aimee L Salter on August 31, 2010 at 1:37 AM

    >They only matter when the name is an author I really like / admire.

  44. Meagan Spooner on August 31, 2010 at 1:21 AM

    >I don't normally pay attention to blurbs, except in the case of a very few authors who I hold in extremely high esteem. That said, they can be useful in terms of classifying a book at a glance. If Stephen King has blurbed it, you can get a pretty good idea of what the experience of reading the book will be like.

    That said, I recently saw a different cover for a book I'd already read, blurbed by an author I really dislike. I'm so glad that I read it before seeing the blurbed edition, because though I might wish it were different, seeing that author's name attached to the book might have been enough to put me off buying the book. Which would have been a shame, because I absolutely loved it.

  45. Ted Cross on August 31, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    >I attach little importance to blurbs unless they come from someone whose opinion I truly value, such as Stephen King.