While technological advances has made publishing a book easier, it also means that selling a book is harder. Increased competition means that it is more important than ever to make sure that your book stands out to both the bookstores who may consider stocking it on their shelves and consumers looking for their next read.
Blurbs, known more formally as “endorsements,” are one way you can make a book stand out to bookstores and consumers. These 1-3 sentence snippets from recognizable names typically feature on the cover of a book and sing the praises of its content. They’re one of the first things that readers and bookstore buyers will notice and helps to differentiate your book from similar titles.
Cream of the Crop
Although blurbs can help boost book sales, there are some stipulations. You want the blurbs you receive to be great, not just good, and this applies to two parts of a blurb.
• The text of the blurb. A positive endorsement is good, but a specific positive endorsement is great. When you can have someone rave about the unique value your book brings to readers (whether that’s the latest trend in change management for business-minded readers or a truly inventive new world for readers), your book becomes all the more attractive to consumers.
Here’s an example of a positive but generic blurb:
Alex the Author discusses the dangers of stress and presents easy solutions to combat it in our daily lives. Well worth the read.
Here’s an example of a positive and specific blurb:
Alex the Author has hit the nail on the head with his five steps to lowering your stress at work. Pick up this book, take a deep breath, and get ready to regain control of your life!
• The prestige of the blurber. Positive endorsements from big names or experts in the topic go much further than those from people who don’t have authority in that space. This doesn’t mean you need the Director of the FBI to provide a blurb for your political thriller; it just means that you need to be thoughtful when building a list.
Look for top selling authors in your genre, the movers and shakers in your niche, and organizations or academics who influence how your field develops. A carefully curated list of 15-20 potential targets is a strong starting point.
The Big Ask
Since we check our email inboxes more than our mailboxes, the best and quickest way to ask for an endorsement is via email. Here are some tips for making sure your email positions your book as strongly as possible:
• Make it clear what you’re asking for and why. Indicate that you’re looking for a blurb to feature on the book and make a strong connection between the content of your book and the person you’re asking. If you can’t clearly and concisely explain the connection between your message and their interests, it’s likely that a blurb from them won’t add much value to your book.
• Make it easy for them to say yes. When you make the initial ask, include some sample blurbs that they can choose from. Also make sure that they have plenty of time to read the book, write their blurb, and get it back to you. There’s no easier away to assure you won’t get a blurb from someone than asking them to put their own plans on hold to help you out immediately.
• Follow up respectfully. Give people a week or two in between follow-up emails. If you don’t hear back by the second nudge, move on. Your energy is best spent pursuing other endorsers.
• Offer up additional opportunities that could benefit them. If you’ve written a book on parenting and are asking for a popular mommy blogger to provide a blurb, offer to write a guest post. People love having free, quality content dropped in their lap! You could also offer signed copies of the book for an endorser to give away to their audience.
• Say thank you! It’s a nice touch to send a signed copy of the final book upon publication. Receiving a physical copy gives them something to share and talk about, both on- and offline.
Put Your Endorsements to Work
Blurbs should feature prominently on your book, any online retailer pages, and your website to keep content fresh. Blurbs can have more legs than that, though! You can use endorsements in marketing materials and publicity pitches, as well as in any presentations or interviews. Not only do positive endorsements help draw attention to your book, they also draw attention to the person who endorsed it. They’ll appreciate this, and may return the favor by endorsing you again.