Endorsements Start Before the Contract

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

You finalized a contract for a new book and your publisher comes to you to ask you for a list of endorsers to send books to. Who are you going to have them approach about endorsing your book?

If you’ve been thinking about endorsements all along, this will be much easier for you. Here are some tips to help you find endorsers for your future projects.

*Attend writers’ conferences and when you form relationships with published authors at conferences, stay in touch with that person in a professional way. Keep it genuine–this isn’t about using someone–it’s about making connections and keeping up on contacts. Sometimes teachers and critiquers will even offer to be included in your potential endorsers list if they love your work. This happened to one of my clients. She was in a morning track with a big name author and that author offered to be included as an endorser in her proposal. This wouldn’t have happened had she not been at the conference.

*Pay attention to those who are experts in your field. Perhaps interview them for your blog or tweet about them or their work. Find a way to help them to take notice of you without it being invasive or “stalker-esque.” If you know that they will recognize your name (in a positive light) when the publishing house sends an email asking if they’d be interested in reading your book for possible endorsement you are good to go.

*Don’t forget that an unpublished writer could someday be a bestselling writer. Treat everyone with the same respect you’d like to be treated with and that future bestselling author could someday agree to endorse your book. Don’t burn bridges by acting like you are better than someone else (I know you all have this one in the bag. You are the best blog group out there!)

*Tell your friends that you are happy to connect with anyone they know who might be a writer in the same genre or subject area that you are. Networking is huge and a friend of a friend is more likely to endorse your book than someone who is not connected to you at all.

*Ask your agent for suggestions. Many times other authors in your agency are happy to help out and your agent would know whom you should ask.

How did you find your endorsements?

Would you be willing to endorse books someday? Which areas/genres are you (will you be) qualified to endorse?

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Start thinking about endorsements now. Via lit. agent @RachelLKent. Click to tweet.

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27 Comments

  • Christine Dorman says:

    Thank you, Rachel,

    I didn’t know that the publisher would ask for a list of endorsers. It’s a good thing to know about ahead of time so the newly contracted author isn’t suddenly scrambling to put together a list.

    “Don’t forget that an unpublished writer could someday be a bestselling writer. Treat everyone with the same respect you’d like to be treated with….” — not just because you never know who’ll be the next J.K. Rowling, but because each human being deserves to be valued because he / she is a child of God.

    I have recommended books on Goodreads and other places for writers that I know and would be happy to read and endorse books for a fellow author. Currently, the only qualification I have (other than being someone who loves books) is that I’m a college English professor. Hopefully in the future, I will be a published YA fantasy author and will be able to endorse books in that area.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Christine Dorman says:

    Sorry for the second comment, but after I commented above, I remembered a story I love that illustrates the importance of friends in the fate of a book and an author. While this isn’t about endorsements, it is about how friends can help you sell a book.

    James Herriot (ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL plus a series of other animal books) wrote his first book when he was in his fifties. It was published and initially went where most books go: to a crowded shelf in bookstores. According to his son, the international best selling author would never have become known if his friends hadn’t stepped in. They went around to bookshops (this is back in the seventies) and moved his book from the regular shelves to the Best Sellers shelf. In addition to buying a number of copies, they went into bookshop after bookshop and asked,”Do you have any copies left of that incredible IF ONLY THEY COULD TALK (original title) book? I’ve been in three bookstores now and it’s sold out in all of them.” They, of course, talked the book up to everyone they met, and soon, the book began selling. Of course, Herriot became the international phenomenon that he did because of his delightful voice and sense of humor, and his brilliance at telling a story, but those talents wouldn’t have been made known if his friends hadn’t worked so hard to promote his first book. And all this before Twitter, Facebook, or even the internet. Never underestimate the power of regular people, especially friends.

    • I love James Harriot’s books! That is so amazing about his friends. Good people who stood behind someone they loved. I hope that as I navigate this whole writing thing that I am the same.

      • Christine Dorman says:

        Kristen, my wish for you is that you will find friends who will support and root for you throughout your writing career.

        James Herriot is my all-time favorite author. I would love to be able to give people joy the way he did.

        A side note: since you are a Herriot fan, Kristen, I thought you might enjoy knowing that one of the friends who started the switching the book to the Best Sellers’ shelf was the real-life person on whom Tristan Farnon was based(his real name was Brian Sinclair). Sounds just like a Tristan-type scheme, doesn’t it?

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Yes, thanks for the reminder that it is all about treating others the way God would want us to treat them. It’s all about being genuine.

      • Thanks Christine and Rachel,
        I have met some wonderful people as I write along. At writer’s conferences and as I’ve discovered old friends who are also writing. endorsements and promotion is confusing and scary for me. (not a problem yet though) but I think if I concentrate on being a good friend and doing my best, I’ll probably be able to navigate these things if the opportunity ever arises. thank you for the encouragement…hmmm I should go read some James Harriot!

  • An analogy…

    There’s something similar in the academic world – when you’ve gone through the probationary period of teaching at a university, you go up for tenure – the brass ring, a permanent position.

    Part of this is the use of external references – finding people from other schools who are willing to read your tenure package (a lot of bumpf about your teaching and research…very, very dull) and comment on your suitability for admittance into the upper reaches of academia.

    The candidate’s asked to supply a list of names for potential references. Scary!

    Who do you ask? How can you approach a stranger in your field, someone who’s well-known, and ask them to go to bat for you.

    Easy. Pick up the phone. Dial. Say, “Hi!” and go from there.

    The process isn’t as bad as it sounds, because the people you ask have had to walk this road before you. They understand, and are usually only too happy to help.

    Professors have big egos, but they also have warm hearts, and good memories of what it was like for them, in the beginning.

    Just like writers.

  • I’m working with beta readers right now, and I found them just by connecting either online or at writing events. None of it was planned or strategic :); it just happened. And all of a sudden a couple of them are published or turn out to be connectors, and I might have potential endorsers. To me, it’s God behind that. I just wanted to get to know other writers better and build those friendships.

  • Thanks for the reminder on endorsements. This is where I feel reviewing books comes in handy. I read in the markets in which I write, so I had a list of people to contact prior to my first picture book coming out (not everyone will say yes). I received two lovely endorsements–one from another children’s picture book author and one from an international best-selling author of Christian fiction.

    At this point, I’ve provided endorsements for half a dozen books. Christian fiction, mystery, picture book and middle grade are the genres I feel most comfortable endorsing because they are what I read on a regular basis, and have read for decades.

    Hope you have a great weekend, Rachel.

  • I am only just getting over the nerves of that “hey baybee, wanna endorse me?” nightclub-y feeling…only because it seems everyone actually understands it’s not about schmoozing and acting like all that and a bag of chips, but a professional relationship.

  • Wendy Jones says:

    Thanks for this. This has been really helpful. I was unaware that this may be asked for as part of a contract or that it should be part of a proposal. I will bear it in mind in the future

  • I was blessed by having 2 key authors in my field endorse me before I even thought of a book. One I already knew and asked him about the topic just as a 45 minute conference workshop. The second I met the weekend after just the second time and he pointed his finger at me (literally, and I mean literally, not the figurative literally) and said “You have to write this book.”

    After the shock wore off and about another 4 hour discussion driving him back to the airport I started the journey.

    Another advantage of having endorsements early? When discouraged, reading the positive words of those who came before you is a HUGE encouragement. Hearing them say they can’t wait for your book, so they can use your terminology? WOW.

  • I find this post helpful as well as a lot of your comments. Over the past year, I’ve learned the value of networking with people. Attending writers conferences, doing book reviews, following blogs, and praying have all led to cool opportunities.

  • Great info, Rachel! :)

    It’s such a blessing to write within the Christian vein. Every writer I’ve talked to in person or via blog/email has been so encouraging to me and has freely given much-appreciated advice! And I hope to do the same for someone else someday!

  • Rachel, This is a great and helpful post. I love what you said about those people asking you may end up being best selling authors later. You never know and should treat all people with respect. I was offered endorsements from author friends and also have asked people. I like what you said about not using people. I don’t think you should ask anyone you don’t have a genuine relationship with–that being said, though, I’ve seen people do it. I’ve met my endorsers through blogs and through groups. Small groups are the best way to get to know people. Also, I’ve found the people whose books I love are the ones I want to endorse me! Blessings!

  • Leon says:

    What type of endorsements is the publisher asking for?

    Is it endorsements from friends, followers, and genuine acquaintances who can praise your book?

    Or is it endorsements from people and associations, with some form of prominence, like congresspersons, association or company presidents, celebrities, and prominent authors?

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      People with a following of some kind or with some form of prominence. The “bigger” a name the better.

      The less prominent people are good to include in your contacts as well though because they could be a part of your influencer list. Usually the publishing house will send out 25ish books to influencers who will talk about your book after reading it– either on a blog or through an online review.

  • Rachel, I’d love to know how much publishing houses help along those lines? I’ve noticed many books are endorsed by authors within the same pub house. But I know many are not.

    Also, what’s your thoughts on having endorsers who only write in your genre? I’ve seen it go both ways on this front, as well.

    I just have to say that the Christian author community has been a wonderful source of encouragement for me as an indie author, and I’ve been blessed with endorsements from authors I wouldn’t have DREAMED of asking until I decided to self-pub. Then, you just have to take courage in both hands and ask even some of the most intimidating authors to read your humble offering! The Christian community is a great place to be and I’m so thankful for these friendships. Authors are always willing to help, even if they don’t have time to read your books/endorse. Often it’s just an encouraging “I’ve been there” that helps you realize you’re not alone in this journey.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      The publishing house will usually approach your list of endorsers for you, but not always. And they might have a couple of people to add to your list, but in my experience most of the endorsers are brought by the author to the publishing house.

      The endorsers don’t have to be from the same publishing house, but I do think the same genre is nice. Not a requirement, but I think it makes the endorsement stronger. A giant name goes a long way, but having Karen Kingsbury endorsing a horror book wouldn’t ring true to me for many reasons. :)

  • Peter DeHaan says:

    I’ve had the privilege of endorsing a few books, but finding endorsements for mine is more challenging!

  • During the time I began to write my book – I began to shuffle through the persons in my contacts and friends who would like this book, if they were to pick it up. I ended up asking pastors, and a child psychologist, educators and began to pitch my manuscript and resume to them. It was really an awesome experience getting the feedback over the months. Selecting was another very hard thing to do; narrow down the list to four.
    Endorsing books is always something that is such double blessing; a gracious invitation to myself as well as hopefully being a conduit of focus and exposure for the author. I would always be open to endorsing books that I feel I am qualified are faith-based books, children’s books, and nature genres.

  • Carmen Peone says:

    I was afraid at first to ask people for endorsements, why I will never know. But Most authors, librarian, reporters, etc. love to help. I know as an author, I do!

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