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:
- Major authors, or at least well-known authors
- Authors writing books similar to yours
- Authors writing for your dream publishing house(s)
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.