Jun

21

2012

Will You Vouch for Me?

by Tamela Hancock Murray

As part of my continuing series on proposals, today I’ll talk about endorsements. This element can cause anxiety, so I hope this post will ease your mind.

When to Ask for Endorsement

Some writers tell me, “I’ll get back to you on that list as soon as I talk to the authors.” Or even, “I’ll let you know as soon as the authors read my manuscript and get back to me.” In reality, neither time is right to ask an established author to endorse your book. The time to ask is when you already have a contract and the publisher is almost ready to send advance copies to potential endorsers. Then the publisher can offer a deadline for the endorsement and the endorser can verify whether or not he has time to read and endorse the book.

No One Is Giving Blood

One big fear of listing friends for endorsement is that after you have promised they’ll come through, the pressure is on and you might lose friends. This is a very real fear. The last thing we want to do is ruin relationships. Know that the endorsement list is not a promise, but a list of possibilities. You are telling the publisher that you know certain key people well enough that you can contact them for endorsement. That’s all.

Publishers understand that popular authors are asked for many more endorsements than they can give, and that they are writing their own books and must schedule their time wisely. So no one should be embarrassed if a certain author can’t come through for you when your book needs to be read for endorsement. Take a deep breath and go ahead and list your friends.

Emphasis on Friends

Sometimes I see lists where I sense the writer has thrown in a couple of fantasy names — superstars writing in the genre. If you indeed know these superstars, it’s fine to note that. Otherwise, I don’t recommend writing a wish list of authors you hope will pay attention to you once you get a contract. Popular authors already have writer friends, and those relationships will take priority over a request from someone they don’t know. Since you have been writing long enough to submit proposals, then you have probably cultivated friendships with like-minded published authors you admire. Include them on your list instead.

Which Author Friends to Include 

The ideal list cites authors writing books similar to yours. You may be best friends with an author of women’s fiction, but if you are writing historical romance, choose those authors instead. This applies no matter how famous the author is. Stephen King is a famous author, but his endorsement wouldn’t be as powerful for historical romance as it would for horror.

I’m Friends with my Pastor

I often see lists in which the author assures me that her pastor loves her work, and this means a lot since she goes to a large church. Indeed, it’s great when your pastor supports your work. However, the circumstances in which your pastor can be a powerful endorser for your work are rare. So unless your pastor/professor/father-in-law is a nationally recognized expert on your topic with his own platform and you think he’s keen to endorse your work, I recommend staying with fellow authors on your formal endorsement list.

No Problem! Fifty Authors Will Endorse Me!

That’s also wonderful! However, contrary to some of the lists that cross my desk, I don’t need to know about all fifty authors. Cull the list. Then cull again. Cull until your list is comprised of three to five meaningful potential endorsers. That’s all we need. If we end up going through all five authors and they can’t come through at endorsement time, you then have the nice circumstance of knowing forty-five others who might be able to endorse you.

Wish I Had that Problem — I Don’t Know Anyone!

No worries. The best thing to do is join organizations such American Christian Fiction WritersFaith, Hope, and Love special interest chapter of Romance Writers of America, and/or other local and national writers groups. You’ll naturally gravitate toward and make friends with writers who share your interests and then you can build relationships. In the meantime, if you can’t provide a meaningful list of endorsers, go ahead and submit your proposal to agents. When your writing generates enough interest for an agent to follow up, the two of you can discuss endorsements at that time.

Again, no worries! Enjoy the process, and be grateful that we work in an industry where we truly can, and do, help one another.

Your turn:

What has been the best way you have found to make friends with other authors?
Can you recommend any organizations and/or internet loops for authors to interact?
How much do you think endorsements help?
Do you buy books based at least partially on endorsements?

 

25 Responses to “Will You Vouch for Me?”

  1. Debby Mayne June 21, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    Great post, Tamela! I’ve met most of my writer friends at conferences and writing organization meetings. In my opinion, ACFW is the best place for Christian fiction authors. If I see an endorsement by someone I respect, I’ll at least pick up the book and read the back cover blurb.

  2. Timothy Fish June 21, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    I’m sure endorsements help to some degree, but mostly I see one author I don’t know endorsing another author I don’t know. I remember some people thinking one novel must be okay because it was endorsed by this guy who had written a certain paraphrase of the Bible. After reading both books, I learned more about the doctrinal errors both men share than what one endorsing the other taught me about either book.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 21, 2012 at 8:22 am #

      Timothy, that makes sense. Readers who enjoyed the paraphrase gravitated toward that novel. So in that sense, the endorsement worked. As you continue reading CBA novels, you’ll no doubt become a fan of many authors and endorsements will become more meaningful to you.

      • Timothy Fish June 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

        With me, I find that it is more likely to go the other way. If I see a book is endorsed by someone who rubs me the wrong way for some reason, I tend to pass on the book.

  3. Jennifer Dyer June 21, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    Thanks for easing my mind. I always wondered how endorsements worked.
    As for making writing connections, I have enjoyed meeting people through writers groups like ACFW and the North Texas Christian Writers. I have made other friendships through online groups or by blog contacts. Not only have I made some great friends, I have discovered lots of great books I might not have gravitated toward in the past. :-)
    Blessings.

  4. Nancy B. Kennedy June 21, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    My life verse is “Ye have not because ye ask not.” It’s scary to contact a potential endorser, but I suck it up and hit send. The reality is that most people are very nice. They will either agree to endorse or they will give you a good reason why they cannot, such as an impending deadline. I have also found that authors who write in your genre and have recently had a book published are more apt to blurb, especially if you share the same publisher, as they could use the publicity as well. Everybody wins.

  5. Laurie Alice Eakes June 21, 2012 at 5:27 am #

    One thing I have found is to join special interest chapters/listserves for your genre. ACFW has it’s genre specific lists, and RWA has numerous special interest chapters wher eyou can get to know authors who like your genre and time period. This is probably where I have found the best endorsers for my work.

    And sometimes you just have to screw your courage to the sticking place and ask an author with clout if you have had some interaction with her and she knows who you are. I did this recently, assuring her I’d still love her if she said no. But I asked because she had already made positive comments about my work, so I knew she’d read it.

    This is after a dozen books. Before that, I just had to cull my writer friends.

  6. Diana Harkness June 21, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    I know only two authors and one of those two is self-published. Both have written non-fiction; I have written fiction. Being an introvert, I have very few friends, none of them writers. I attend writing conferences, but non of them last long enough to make friends. I don’t write romance. I lead a writer’s group but no one who has come is a published author or likely to be one soon. If I send advance copies to authors I like, would they be likely to provide an endorsement?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 21, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      Diana, by the time you are ready to send ARCs to authors, you will be with a literary agent and an editor. Both will be publishing professionals who will care about you and your work. I anticipate that you will let them know which authors you like and they will offer guidance on how to approach them. So no worries. :)

  7. sally apokedak June 21, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    Thanks for this! It’s nice to know we don’t have to hound all our friends, begging for endorsements.

    I have met and become friends with writers by hanging out at their blogs mostly. Or I’ll review a book a I love and then the author and I exchange a few emails and a friendship grows.

  8. Michelle Lim June 21, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    Thanks for the helpful post, Tamela! You’ve tackled a lot of things that aren’t covered very often and it is really helpful.

    I have found lots of writing friends through ACFW at http://www.acfw.com/ and My Book Therapy at http://www.mybooktherapy.com/ .

    Often local ACFW chapters meet frequently in smaller groups and it is a great way to network.

    As for endorsements, they only matter if my eye has already been caught by the cover and story premise. Then I look at who the name is and if I like their books.

  9. Rick Barry June 21, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Tamela, I especially enjoyed this post because I was recently contacting folks to be possible endorsers for my suspense novel. But I note that you emphasize recruiting fellow authors for endorsements. What about endorsements from individuals who are less known but whose opinion carries clout? For instance, the owner of an award-winning Christian bookstore or high-ranking military officers who can attest to the veracity of details? Or is it a given that endorsements must come only from authors nowadays?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Rick, that’s a great question! It is not a given that endorsements can only come from other authors. When it makes sense to seek another type of endorsement, you can certainly list those endorsers. Ultimately, your publisher will decide which endorsers to use.

  10. Richard Mabry June 21, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Tamela, Great advice.
    How did I go about making friends in the writing community? I joined organizations of like-minded writers (in my case, the American Christian Fiction Writers and the International Thriller Writers), and made an effort to meet lots of people in them. I nurtured the friendships in which I was most comfortable, and when it came time to ask for endorsements (and your timetable is spot on), some of them were well-known enough and met the other criteria for endorsers, so I approached them.
    Does endorsement influence me? If a writer whose work I like gives a glowing endorsement that seems genuine (and if you read or write enough of these, you’ll know), I often buy the book.

  11. Lindsay Harrel June 21, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Great tips, Tamela. I’ve made a lot of friendships online through reading people’s blogs, etc. It’s been fun! I definitely recommend ACFW and My Book Therapy for Christian novelists. Both are wonderful organizations with great retreats or conferences where you can get to know fellow authors.

  12. Carol Moncado June 21, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    Like others – this is a huge relief – to know you only want a list of possibilities!

    ACFW conferences are a great place, the ACFW loops are another. Start connecting with those folks on places like Facebook and blogs. Seekerville is a great multi-author blog with lots of authors who hang out in the comments – it’s a great time [plus there's calorie-free cyber food most days]. I literally don’t know how many authors I’ve met because of hanging out there most days. Many wouldn’t be appropriate to ask [due to genre etc] but others would. And there’s lots of others too.

    And now I can put together a proposal more effectively because I do know enough people I would be willing to ask and theoretically at least would be willing to read for endoresement but I don’t need commitments! Whew!

  13. Jeanne June 21, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Tamela, your post takes the pressure off of trying to find endorsers, when the time comes. Thanks! I’ve met a few authors through writer’s retreats. I haven’t been to many conferences yet, but I’m seeing the value of networking and getting to know peopler, not just for selfish reasons, either. :)

    I’m sure endorsements help. I usually select a book because I know the author or I’ve heard about it from a friend. Once the book is selected, if I see the name of an author I respect endorsing the book, that confirms my choice.

    I’m learning so much from these posts. Thank you!

  14. Georgiana Daniels June 21, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    The great thing about being published after all my friends is that I’ll never be short of endorses ;)

    All of my precious writer friends came from ACFW, and those relationships developed over time. Now I can say that my long-distance friendships are some of the closest I have!

  15. Jeanne June 21, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    I thought I posted here earlier, but I don’t see it now. Sigh. :) Tamela, your post takes some of the pressure off for writing this part of a proposal. Thanks for making it sound do-able. I’m not “there” yet, but hopefully by the time I’m ready for endorsements, I’ll have plenty of possiblities.

    I’ve met a few authors through writing retreats. Though I haven’t been to many conferences yet, I definitely see the value of networking and reaching out to others, not just for selfish reasons. :) When I attend ACFW in the fall, I am eager to meet authors I’ve interacted with on blogs.

    I usually read books that are recommended to me by friends, or by authors I’ve read before. I do read the endorsements, but they often confirm my choice of a book purchase rather than make the decision for me.

    Thanks again, for a great post!

  16. Jeanne June 21, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    So sorry! I checked back here before re-commenting. And I’m here, twice. I apologize.

  17. Peter DeHaan June 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I just finished reading Karen Santorum’s book “Letters to Gabriel” and was blown away by her endorsers. Mother Teresa wrote the foreword, Dr. Laura Schlessinger wrote the introduction, and the back cover endorsers were Mother Teresa, Charlton Heston, Gary Bauer, Cal Thomas, and George Will.

    • Steve Laube June 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      A few things about that book by Karen Santorum. 1) it was first published in 1998 and just re-released because of her husband’s presidential aspirations. 2) Her husband was a U.S. Senator. The publisher Ignatius is a major Catholic publisher and would have had connections with Mother Teresa. Many of the others would have been know by him as part of his advocacy against partial-birth abortion 3) It is a poignant piece of writing.

      The combination shows the power of connections especially as it relates to endorsements. Good example Peter!

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