Why Entrepreneurs Need to Get the Right Blurbs for Their Books
Blurbs, also known as endorsements, are an important element of book publishing. But who should you ask, and how can you get them to say yes?
I've worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs on their books and the one aspect they tend to be most focused on — more than cover, title or even book content — is who's going to endorse their book.
And this makes sense. Entrepreneurs know that recommendations from luminaries in their field is the best “social proof” that exists. These recommendations from luminaries can be on the cover or in the book’s first few pages, as well as on social media and the book’s Amazon pages, which makes them important for how a book is perceived.
But how do you acquire them from the right people? Here are some tips to ensure you get the right blurbs:
1. Be realistic
As a publisher, I’ve witnessed more writers than I can count obsess over getting a household name that they have a distant connection to as a blurber. As a writer, I’ve done the same thing.
The problem is that household names have a plethora of authors they know well who are probably asking for blurbs. The friend of a friend, or person they met once, is going to be considered last, if ever considered at all.
Does this mean that if you aren’t close to a bold-faced name, you’re doomed? Absolutely not. Your blurber doesn't have to be famous.
A person who’s established in your field can mean just as much as a household name. After all, the blurb is there to give the author credibility and if readers are interested in a topic, they may be more impressed by an endorsement from a big fish in a little pond than from someone whose name is everywhere.
There are also signifiers of success that can impress potential readers who aren’t familiar with the blurber’s name. “New York Times bestselling author,” “TEDx speaker,” “professor” and the like all say a lot in just a few words.
2. Remember, you're asking a big favor
As an author, I can’t tell you the number of blurb requests I’ve received from people who clearly haven’t read any of my books. Those requests always read like the person believes it would be a great opportunity for me to recommend their book — but as an author, I also understand.
When we’re terribly excited about our books, it’s easy to convince ourselves that the rest of the world is as well. But they’re not. If they’re an author, they’re probably terribly excited about their own book.
It’s important to keep in mind that asking a busy person to read your entire book is a major request (and anyone being asked to write a blurb is busy). Because of that, you need to make sure you ask in an appropriate way.
3. Ask for a blurb in the right way
Aside from making it clear that you know you are asking for a serious favor, clarify exactly why you are asking this person. Flattery can be effective here (we all have egos), but flattery that is genuine is going to go a lot further. What is it that this person has done that makes them the ideal person to recommend your book? How has their work impacted you? The better you can break that down, the more likely they are to say yes.
Keep in mind that everyone’s attitude about giving a blurb is different. Some authors want to help as many people as possible, so they may suggest that you write something up for them to approve. Others wouldn’t dream of attaching their name to any book they don’t adore, so they won’t be able to say yes or no until they read the book. It wouldn’t hurt to subtly offer to write a potential blurb for them if they’re pressed for time.
So how do you start the process of requesting blurbs?
If you can’t think of anyone you’re remotely connected to that you can ask, there’s no point in wailing that you don’t have the right connections; in this day and age, you can get connected to anyone by sliding into their DMs. But messaging a stranger to ask them for a favor out of nowhere probably isn’t going to be effective.
This means that you should be targeting who you’d like to ask and nurturing those relationships for as long as you can before putting in the request. Follow these people on social media and respond to their posts. Subscribe to their newsletters and write back when you’re inspired. Listen to and review their podcasts.
You’d be amazed at how much of an impression you can make on someone just by being supportive. If you do this, by the time you reach out, you’re not just a stranger asking for a favor, but a fan who’s shown appreciation for their work.
I've witnessed incredible results from endorsements; my first client got a blurb from Magic Johnson and, within a week of the client's book's release, he had landed a six-figure spokesperson deal, gotten his first paid speaking gig ever (he's now paid $10,000 per keynote and speaks all the time) and signed several new deals.
The point: Find the people that your future clients know and the book, along with the endorsement, can transform your career.
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