More important than ivy-league academics or descriptions of your decades of experience, the endorsements you have received and testimonials you have earned convince and sell your readers that you are the top-of-the-line master. Face it, people want to base their decisions on the judgments of someone else they consider an expert. It is true whether they are voting for a candidate or buying a novel. Naturally, it is especially, critically true when they are selecting a how-to book or a text on a complex topic.
You must ASK for words of praise for your book. People who genuinely appreciate your work, colleagues (and sometimes even “competitors”) in your field, and others legitimately building reputations all may surprise you at how accommodating, even eager, they are about providing valuable testimonials, especially if you make it easy for them and show professional courtesies. Start early and follow these steps for sparkling, valuable results:
- Ask the best in your field. Do not hesitate to reach out to the stars and leaders who are most authoritative. Good candidates include heads of associations, celebrities involved in your issue, company presidents and founders, elders in the field, and perhaps several folks who represent the exact demographic of your audience.
- Ask media personalities with name recognition, which today may include leading bloggers, editors of ezines, and subject-specific Twitterati.
- Ask other authors. If it is nonfiction, you referred to other experts in your book—hopefully not all of them dead. Find the liveliest colleagues and send them your sample chapters well in advance of publication.
- Do not seek blurbs from endorsement whores, the already-famous people you see endorsing every book on the shelf. Your real audience knows better.
- Make it easy. High profile people are, by definition, busy people. Make providing you with an endorsement quick and easy for them. Write two or three endorsements for them. If possible, use their own words that you have pulled from their writing or presentations. Editing a pre-written endorsement is easier and faster for the celebrity or the personal assistant. You are more likely to get the quick response that says what you need it to say.
- Make the return effortless. If you are working in snail mail—which still commands more attention if prepared in a professional manner—include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE). Always also include your email address.
- Give them a deadline. Forty-five days or more works well; longer and your request will be set aside and forgotten, while shorter may send your letter straight to the circular file under the desk.
- Follow up. You can’t just send a request and pray. Your endorser may intend to come through for you but set the request aside; it’s hardly their top priority. You may move you to the top of their pile of endorsement requests when you follow up.
- Post credit where due. Use the credentials your endorser provides, including their self-promotion line, within reason, of course. This is the return favor. Also, just because you revere this person, it doesn’t mean your readers will know why this endorsement is so impressive unless you include full details and prove this is legitimate.
- Post it now. When you get these great endorsements, get them published to your site right away, whether the book is released yet or not. Use them prominently throughout your media kit. Your credibility and sales will increase.
When you, in turn, are asked for an endorsement, reply promptly and professionally. The only thing stronger than getting a good endorsement is to appear as the expert being asked for endorsements! Be sure to provide credential copy as you want it to appear—obviously including the link to your own current title.