This is the seventh post in a series dedicated to the anniversary of the publishing of my first book, Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite. The purpose of this series is to share what I’ve learned to help inspire you to do the same if there’s a book in your heart waiting to get out.
In this post I want to peel the curtain back and discuss the topic of book endorsements. You know, those blurbs at the beginning of books (and sometimes on the front or back cover) that say how great it is? They normally feature famous people and other authors.
I have to confess that I rarely read them. But I do notice them, and I scan through to see the names I recognize. It can be impressive, and while I don’t know if that’s convinced me to purchase a book outright, it does add legitimacy and credibility to the product.
Before I go too far here and start sounding cynical, I want to stress how honoring it was for me to have 17 endorsements on my book for the initial printing. I look at my endorsements less cynically than I do for most other books. Read this to understand why:
1) Did They Read the Book?
I’m the kind of person that won’t even write an Amazon review for something if I haven’t used the product. That goes for books as well. I need to read it in order to write a review. But not everyone is so steadfast to that rule.
A lot of authors, famous and not-so-famous, love to see their name in print. They love to have top billing in the endorsements, and maybe even get on the front cover along with the author.
If you have a big name and a huge audience, you have influence. That influence can help sell books, because while a potential reader may not know the author, if they know the reviewer and trust what they say, they are more likely to notice the new guy and his book. Attention and audience sells a lot more books than great content.
And then a lot of these big names are busy. They get asked to endorse a ton of books every year and can’t possibly read them all. Some do it to be nice, and some do it to support the author or a cause. I can understand that a bit more, but I still think if they do it too often or endorse a lot of junk, the value of their recommendation will diminish.
2) Do They Know the Author?
Some endorsements are not about the book at all, but are testimonials for the author. If you serve people well, you will have fans. And sometimes those fans will say great things about you. Those things can lend credibility to the things you create, including books.
So maybe they didn’t get a chance to read it, or maybe no one was allowed to read it in advance. A sincere recommendation for an author from a friend or client is perfectly valid…most of the time. The bigger risk here is for the author. I wouldn’t want to burn my connections by putting stellar endorsements in my book, only to have it bomb and make them look bad or have regrets for having done so.
3) Did They Even Write It?
And this is the biggest surprise of the entire process: most endorsements are not written by the person who “said” it in the book. They are initially written by the author or a publicist, then given the green light by the big name endorser. Sometimes a few words will be changed, but that’s it.
Now there are some endorsements that are 100% written by the endorser. But can you tell which ones are which? And does it matter if the words are true and accurate to the endorser’s beliefs about the book?
This process is used to make it easy for the endorser. Can I really expect someone who is famous and/or successful to take the time to read my book and come up with a one paragraph book review? Some will, but most won’t. Make it easy and you have a better chance.
4) How Did I Do It?
As I am not famous, did not have a large audience, and the book was being self-published, I simply started by making a list of all of the people I knew who might endorse my book. I included the relatively well known authors and business connections I have, as well as colleagues and former clients. The list grew to nearly 100 people.
I separated out the bigger names, all of whom I had some connection with (no need to waste my time approaching Oprah…but I’d answer if she called! Seriously, call me…please!). With this handful of folks I crafted a sample endorsement or two, based on what I thought they might say. I wrote very nice emails and provided advanced copies of the book for them to review. Then I simply asked for their endorsement and said they could use/adjust what I had written or send whatever they wanted. Most made a few edits, congratulated me, and wished me well.
For my colleagues, I used a similar process. Using a private forum we were all a part of, I listed a collection of possible endorsements and allowed them to claim the one they liked best (or write their own). Again, it made it easy. Some picked one, some tweaked one, and some wrote a new one from scratch.
For my clients, I simply asked for an endorsement of me or the book. These meant so much to me because they reflected at a deep, personal level the impact I had made on their lives. It reinforced the reason why I’d spent three years crafting the book, and why it needed to finally go to the printer to be shared with others.
That’s pretty much it. I do want to reiterate that I have personal connections with everyone who endorsed my book, though some are deeper than others. I take great pride in what they said, even when I wrote the bulk of what they agreed to. But some of them wrote every word of their endorsement.
So who wrote which endorsements in Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite? I’l never tell!
Stay tuned as I write about the writing process, the finishing process, formatting, creating the trifecta (book, e-book, and audiobook), crowdsourcing, my support team, and so much more. I don’t know how long the series will last and I haven’t written the next post yet, but I’m going to share all of the ups and downs I can remember!
If you have specific topics you want me to cover, leave a comment or send me a note!