Part of your book proposal should include endorsements or potential endorsements. These are the people who you ask to either write a forward to your book and/or write a blurb for the back cover.
Hopefully, these people are more famous than you are. Just having their name on your cover should make people pick up your book and skim it. After that, your writing must sell the book.
For non-fiction books, your endorsement could either come from an expert in your field, a famous client you helped, or someone with credentials (like a Ph.D.) who will attest that you ARE the expert in your field. If you are the expert, or you have helped lots of people, then you should know someone who fits these categories. If you don’t think you know someone who qualifies, start going to conferences to meet these experts–or better yet, give a presentation at a conference. Thanks to social networking sites such as Linked-in, it is easier than ever before to meet a person with credentials. You may be surprised at who your friends from High School know.
If you are NOT an expert in your field, then maybe you should not be writing the book–yet. Build up your credentials, then try to get the book published.
For a fiction book, your endorsements should come from teachers, editors, or published writers who will attest that your writing is great. As you write your book, you have hopefully been seeking constructive criticism through classes or writing circles. That is where you will find the connections to teachers and published writers. If you don’t know where to find a writing circle, try your library or click on the link to Jane’s Stories Press Foundation in my sidebar. The other place to meet these people is at writing conferences. I myself will be at the “Other Words” writing conference in St. Augustine, FL this November.
Once you know who to contact and ask, it is time to decide how to ask. This is the BIG SCARY PART. As for me, I would rather clean toilets than pick up the phone, so I always start with an email or a snail mail letter (hey, I’m a writer, not a talker). My friend Mishelle gave me the best words to use: “I would be so honored if you could…” write a blurb for my book jacket, write a forward, etc. Then tell them why you think they are qualified to do so. They should feel sincerely flattered that you thought of them. Finally, always offer to write a draft blurb or forward for them.
Don’t assume that your letter or email made it to them. Give them a week or so, then make the polite phone call or follow-up email just to see if they received your request. Be VERY nice to whoever answers the phone and acknowledge that they and their boss are doing you a favor just by taking the time to read your request.
So how is my search for endorsements going? I am very lucky that from the time I went to High School, graduated from the US Air Force Academy, and served in the Air Force I have been surrounded by accomplished people. The first person I asked for an endorsement is a U.S. government Cabinet Secretary. The scary part is that I hadn’t talked with this person for 30 years. Nonetheless, I mailed a letter and waited. I waited until 3 weeks after my delivery confirmation said that the cabinet received the letter. Then I called the Department’s general phone number, listed on their .gov webpage. When the general switchboard operator answered, I just told him that I knew the Secretary in High School, that I had sent the Secretary a personal letter, and could he please connect me with someone who could tell me if the Secretary had received it. I was put on hold, and sometime later I was connected directly with the executive secretary for the Secretary. I was very upfront about what I wanted, that I realized how busy they were, and if they could just check for me if the office had received the letter yet. They dealt with me openly, kindly, told me when to check back, and were very helpful. In the end, their Public Affairs office let me know that although the Secretary remembered me and wanted to do it, the Cabinet’s Ethics Department recommended against it until the Secretary is no longer in public office. That made good sense to me. I was gracious in return.
I am lucky enough that I actually worked with another Department Secretary, now retired. This person is next on my list and I plan to follow the same routine.
After that, many of my classmates are Generals, so watch out ladies, I’ll be hitting you up next!