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 Writers, Faith, 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.
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?