Book Proposal Basics – Endorsements: Who Do You Know?

The endorsement section can be intimidating for the author who’s unsure if her connections in the industry are strong enough to garner endorsements. While that may be a valid concern, don’t let this stop you from submitting your proposal to agents.

Often endorsements are received after the book is already contracted and moving toward publication. What we are talking about here is having an endorsement as part of your proposal.

Make sure you do not simply list all the famous people you’ve ever read about. We’ve seen proposals that read something like this: “I will attempt to secure an endorsement from Bill Clinton, former President of the United States.” Some proposals might list a roster of famous TV preachers. Please avoid these designations unless you really and truly know these people well enough to ask for their endorsement.

I Really Don’t Know Anyone

If you genuinely don’t know anyone well enough to make a list, send the proposal without this section. When your work piques the interest of an agent, talk to her about that section then.

How Many Endorsers Do I Need?

For the proposal, one major endorsement would be great. Place that famous-author endorsement at the beginning of the proposal.

However, most authors don’t come to us with a household-name endorsement. Then, simply list well-known professionals in publishing or in the field you’re writing about that you know well enough not to have your phone call ignored or your email deleted.

In the proposal, it’s fine to list three or four names, although we’ve all seen proposals listing many more.

Which Friends Do I List?

If you do not have an endorsement as part of the proposal, this section can list those whom you will ask when the time comes. These are authors you are friendly with and where including them will feel natural. But if you’re debating about whether or not to add someone, I’d stick with published authors you know well enough to interact with reasonably often. By this, I don’t mean you follow them on Twitter and “like” their Facebook posts but receive no response from the author. But you chat back and forth, at least enough that the author knows your name and has a sense of who you are when the publisher asks for an endorsement. Please don’t target authors for friendship based on this post. Organic acquaintances are best; and once your work is set for publication, there are lots of rabbits your team can pull out of their fashionable hats!

I Interact with Lots of Authors!

Great! From your crowd, choose:

  1. Major authors, or at least well-known authors
  2. Authors writing books similar to yours
  3. Authors writing for your dream publishing house(s)
  4. Authorities in the field you are writing about (nonfiction)

But Margie Major Is Busy!

That’s okay. List Margie Major anyway. Everyone understands that she may not be available to endorse at the right time.

Do I Ask for Endorsement Now or Later?

  1. Yes: The author is a critique partner or has otherwise coached you and read enough of your book to understand its essence and your writing. That author may be willing to endorse you now and write that endorsement to include in the proposal.
  2. Yes: The author knows your work and is willing to write an endorsement about your work, although not necessarily the book you are currently marketing.
  3. No: This is the answer the majority of the time. You are listing an author friend who doesn’t have enough knowledge of your work or current project to write an endorsement today. This author will need to read the book before endorsing and may not be available at the time.

Your endorsement list could be people the publisher might want to ask on your behalf to endorse your work. That’s all. Don’t despair if you feel you come up short in this section. Although endorsements are significant, in all my years as an agent, I have never sold a book based on an endorsement alone, no matter how heavy the hitter. Again, it’s great to have friends, but the project must deliver and be what the editor wants and needs at that time. Happy writing!

Your turn:

How did you make friends with writers who can endorse you?

Have you bought a book based on an endorsement? Why?


Steve Laube has a course on book proposals at The Christian Writers Institute that includes a one-hour lecture, a short ebook on the topic, and sample proposal templates. Click here for more information.



25 Responses to Book Proposal Basics – Endorsements: Who Do You Know?

  1. Avatar
    Brennan S. McPherson June 6, 2019 at 5:32 am #

    Some advice that’s been helpful for me (that I think an assortment of others taught me): When reaching out for endorsement, look for a personal connection with the author themselves. Tell who you are very briefly. Be sensitive to their time, and acknowledge that it’s a big commitment. Don’t ask them to read the whole book. Instead, ask if they would be willing to take a look at the first chapter only, to consider whether they would want to read for endorsement or not. Include your back cover copy (if it’s short), the genre, and the word count–and maybe the book cover if you have it. I use BookFunnel to deliver ARC’s, so I include a link to download the book immediately, if they’re interested. Let them know you’ll send one follow-up at a certain date, but that if they’re not interested, it’s fine for them to not respond at all to either query, because you know they’re busy.

    Be personable and kind. Make it as easy as smashing the “easy” button. People appreciate it. And DON’T respond in anger if they tell you they don’t like the book or don’t want to read for endorsement or don’t have time.

  2. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver June 6, 2019 at 5:46 am #

    Tamela, thank you for such a helpful post. I have bought books in the past, simply because of the endorsements. They really do help.

  3. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 6, 2019 at 6:55 am #

    For one endorsement that I seek,
    it’s really a no-brainer,
    for I email perhaps once a week
    with that author’s personal trainer.
    I’m sure I’ll get an introduction;
    I know well his Facebook page,
    but you’ll hear no sounds of suction;
    no sucking up, not at MY age!
    I’ll let my work stand on its merit,
    and my character, too.
    As for royalties, I will share it
    if he would PLEASE come through.
    Another rabbit in my hat:
    I share the name of his wife’s cat.

  4. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson June 6, 2019 at 6:56 am #

    Thank you for this piece of information. I used to think that if I didn’t have anyone listed for endorsements on the proposal that meant I’d failed to complete the proposal correctly. However, I’ve been around the writing scene long enough that now I do know some popular authors. I first met them at conferences where I was able to get to know them better. I’ve enjoyed one on one conversations, exchanged emails, received some critiques, joined them for lunch, and been to their homes. I’ve developed a friendship with each one. In the past, I have purchased books based on an endorsement from authors I know and trust.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 6, 2019 at 7:40 am #

      Exactly, Loretta. Organic endorsements coming from genuine friendships work best. And if you’re not friends with any authors writing in your genre, not to worry! Here’s where your agent can help.

  5. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver June 6, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Oh, Andrew, your poetry is a delight! Maybe you should publish a book of poetry someday.

    • Avatar
      Andrew Budek-Schmeisser June 6, 2019 at 7:44 am #

      Roberta, thank you so much!

      There probably will be a couple of published collections, one on keeping faith through terminal cancer, and one on writing; possibly they’ll be devotionals, with Scripture and a short prose ‘bridge’.

      There are around 800 sonnets from which to choose, written since the first of the year. I feel a bit odd, a bit mad, saying that; it’s kind of like admitting that I regularly talk with a seven-foot-tall invisible rabbit (whose name, by the way is NOT Harvey).

      Won’t be me, though, to collate the stuff. I can still write them, but the organizational energy is now out of reach.

  6. Avatar
    Barbara Harper June 6, 2019 at 8:05 am #

    Thanks so much. I had been wondering about some of this, particularly when to ask. Yes, I have bought many books because they were endorsed by an author I read.

  7. Avatar
    Martha Hutchens June 6, 2019 at 8:48 am #

    If a multi-published author has offered to read my manuscript for possible endorsement, (once I have an agent and a contract of course), should I mention that in a cover letter for a fiction novel? She writes in the same genre and time period as I do, and has read my first chapter.

    I met her by “accident.” I was at a conference talking to a lady I didn’t know who happened to be standing beside me. I mentioned that one person I really wanted to meet was this author because we wrote in the same time period. She said, “She’s my room mate. I’ll introduce you!” Turns out, we also have similar educational backgrounds, which meant I recognized the names of people she mentioned would be appearing in an upcoming book, and she recognized the somewhat obscure setting of my book, and was excited by it. The rest is history.

  8. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D June 6, 2019 at 11:22 am #

    Tamela, I have never bought a book simply because a heavy-hitter told em I should, but I have bought a book that a friend told be that she thought I would enjoy.

  9. Avatar
    Linda Riggs Mayfield June 6, 2019 at 11:32 am #

    One of my long-time friends totally outside of writing (our children went through school together) has more than 60 little anthology gift books in print by top-tier traditional publishers. Another friend (who who edited my last book) is the long-time editor for several multi-published Christian writers, but all of her own published writing consists of many years of daily devotionals for one traditional publisher. Would either or both of them be someone I would ask and list for an endorsement, or do endorsers need to be “famous” authors/people an agent or publisher would instantly recognize?

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 6, 2019 at 2:12 pm #

      Linda, you are welcome to list anyone you like as a potential endorser. Ultimately, your publisher will decide which potential endorsers will be chosen.

  10. Avatar
    claire o'sullivan June 6, 2019 at 12:02 pm #

    This might leave me out of the running. I have endorsements from top of the list genres of authors that are new (and have obtained badges of honor from readers), those that I have critiqued in the past, they critiqued mine. Also 2 SP authors, both with awards. I am not sure these will fit the bill. The authors have impeccable writing, editing and characters are full with plots that are twisty-turny and only one in my genre. The last author read my manuscript twice and gave me some wonderful tips. One was featured on the 700 club, and another has written 15 well-received books and great reviews (including mine).

    So, do I mention the first author, with his third or fourth book that I know, who published with an independent publishing house? Can I mention those other two, one known in her genre but SP, and the other a popluar but an SP author?

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray June 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

      I’ll repeat the answer I gave Linda. List anyone you like. Your publisher will ultimately decide.

  11. Avatar
    Joshua J. Masters June 7, 2019 at 5:14 am #

    Does an endorsement require a signed release or is an email exchange sufficient for publishers?

  12. Avatar
    Amy Wicks June 8, 2019 at 5:04 am #

    I didn’t go into podcasting with this intent, but after a few years and over 100 episodes, I’ve built some true friendships within the writing industry. Last year, as I was working on the endorsements section, I was blown away by the generosity and willingness of many of these well-known authors to endorse.
    I do like the idea of having an endorsement quote included in the proposal if you have that option. Great recommendation!

  13. Avatar
    Morgan Huneke June 25, 2019 at 9:27 pm #

    I have quite a few author friends I could get endorsements from, but they’re all indie. Would it be better to list them, or simply leave out the endorsement section?

  14. Avatar
    OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU June 28, 2020 at 2:12 pm #

    Hi Tamela,
    This has been very helpful. Thank you. I understand that I can list anyone not necessarily authors but people who know about my writing or have read my works. Hope my understanding is correct.
    Thanks and God bless you.

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