Are they of any value or should they go?
Not too long ago, the Wall Street Journal did a piece on pre-publication blurbs. In it, they asked: Are they of any value or mere relics that deserve to go? It’s an interesting debate, one worth considering for every author, but for today’s post, we’re going to be pro-blurbs.
You’ve seen them on the covers of books, declaring a book “Brilliant,” “Classic,” and the frequent, “A must-read.” They are almost as common as the other elements on the cover – title, author’s name…and blurb. What was once considered a highly valued marketing tactic, a blurb can still be a very effective tool for garnering a reader’s attention, in our opinion.
On a recent call with a client, they asked, who should I ask for an endorsement? In publishing, the words “blurb” and “endorsement” are used synonymously. An endorsement can be about the person or the book’s content, encouraging readers to read that book. If another author can’t write an endorsement for the book, they might give one about the person. Most endorsements are about the book and its content. The best endorsements often end up as blurb-worthy.
If you know Stephen King or have a connection to Malcolm Gladwell, count yourself lucky – they might endorse your book. For the rest of us, it’s a little harder. Often authors reach for the stars, literally. They want the celebrity endorsement. As Wayne Gretzky has taught us: “We miss 100% of the shots we don’t take.” It’s worth the shot, even if it’s ever so unlikely. That brings us to, What’s the best ask?
The best people to ask for an endorsement are often influencers and other authors in your community. When making a list of people to ask for endorsements, it’s great to have a few “big” names, but focus on where the relationships are. Those closest to you will often give the best, most personal endorsement. The reason why endorsements are important is because they offer proof of content, encouraging the reader to pick up the book. So, when the client asked who they should ask, the first thought that came to mind was: the authors closest to this client.
If you want to learn more about how to ask for endorsements, check out the post we did about making that ask here.
Another tactic that we’ve used is consumer testimonials. On a client's New York Times Bestselling book, we asked her community to provide endorsements for the book. The reason why this can be a very effective use of endorsements is because it brings in a community element to the book. Seth Godin has also used this guerilla tactic. Now there’s a level of participation from an author’s community, creating further ownership – the book becomes a shared thing amongst them.
What elevates an endorsement to the front cover, instead of the back cover or the first few pages of the book? A celebrity name is one answer; another is a trusted voice in the genre that creates intrigue. Covers have limited real estate. It’s important to choose wisely if a blurb should appear there. Not all covers need one. Sometimes it can even hinder the design. Don’t feel like this is something your book has to have.
So, does your book need endorsements? Yes, we believe they make a difference for the end consumer, even if the Wall Street Journal says otherwise. A great blurb can leave an impression on the reader, boosting your book’s credibility in their eyes. Understand that it can take a dozen or more impressions like that, whether through advertising, word of mouth, or book buzz, to get a reader to make a purchase. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to make one of those important impressions.
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