Every self-publisher or indie author dreams of getting an amazing review or blurb that will sell your book. Maybe it’s an endorsement from a famous author you admire or a positive review on a website or in a publication in your field. Something like that brings visibility to your book and can help it spread by word of mouth! But how do you get Stephen King, Stephen Colbert, or the Sci-fi Toronto Expert Virtual Electronic Network to write a blurb? First, you have to have a quality book, both in content and presentation. If you’re sure your book is worthy of a big endorsement, then the next step is to ask. In this post, I’ll discuss the basic principles for writing a succesful pitch letter to get reviews or blurbs and share a template of a sample letter for reviewsyou can use.
I have gotten endorsements from all sorts of influential people for my books and I have a simple method that has worked very well. First and foremost, you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you like to recieve a book in the mail by suprise and a demand to read and review it on a deadline? Me neither. Even if it’s an ebook, it still feels pushy to send it on without reaching out first. So the first rule of getting good blurbs and endorsements for your book is: Never send your book without writing first.
The second rule is to show why you are writing this person. What makes you think this person is interested in reading and endorsing your book? If you’re just writing to a bunch of famous people, then that’s not much motivation for them to take their valuable time to help you out and all they get back is a free book. And remember that celebrities and influencers recieve a ton of requests to endorse things. You have to make your request personal and targeted.
In the same vein, give the endorser an out. You are asking someone to take their time to read your book (or at least skim it) and write a short blurb for you. They have other things they could be doing. Or they may not like your book. They may not want to endorse it, for a variety of reasons. Some public figures have blanket policies that they never endorse anything. It never hurts to acknowledge that. Start by asking them to take a look at the book first and thinking about endorsing it. You can’t ask them to endorse it out of the gate. Thank them in advance for their time. No one likes having more demands on their time and energy, particularly when it comes from a stranger.
Finally, talk about your book and what is so good about it, but avoid the hype. You need to sell your book to the person you are writing. Talk about what’s special or interesting or unique about it. Talk about why you wrote this book and any expertise you might have. This is a marketing effort. But avoid hyperbole and overstatement. This is something that applies to any marketing effort—saying your book is the only one on the market, or better than anything ever written is going to come off as phony. Clearly and realistically explain why this person should read and endorse your book, and make sure it’s targeted to the interests of the person you are writing (See rule #2).
Sample Letter for Reviews
Here’s my sample letter that I use to write people to ask for reviews or blurbs. I’ve interspersed the letter with notes to help you understand the approach. Remember that for the first contact, do not send your book along. This is a cold call, so keep it as light and unimposing as possible!
Dear Professor Burns
I am a big fan of your blog on teaching academic writing with the genre-based method. Your post on analyzing source materials was very helpful and I frequently use it with my students.
I open the letter by making it clear that I am writing to them personally and I am familair with their work. I am also bringing up something that connects to my book, which I will mention in the next paragraph.
I’m writing because I am publishing an academic writing book this year that uses a simplified version of the genre-based method for high-school students and I hoped you might take a look with an eye to writing a short blurb or review. As you know, most of the books in the US are aimed at college or graduate students. High school students aren’t required to write at the same complexity and don’t have the same access to sample texts, so I’ve created a shorter more manageable process for writing in the genre method. I’ve been using this method for five years and it’s improved my students’ writing immeasurably. It’s very highly influenced by your work so I thought it might be someting you would be interested in seeing and potentially endorsing
I tell them exactly what I want, asking them to take a look first and maybe endorse it. I also make it clear why I think they might be interested in reading it. Note that experts in an aera are often interested in knowing what else is out there, so they are more likely to say they will take a look. Also note that even if they don’t endorse the book, getting it into their hands might lead to them showing it to someone else doing something similair. You never know where things may go.
I know that you are extremely busy and no doubt inundated by requests of this kind. However, I would be pleased if you did take a look and see if they were something you would be interested in endorsing. In fact, we’d be grateful for any feedback, good or bad, from you.
I acknowledge that they are busy and that they may not want to endorse the book.
I’m happy to send a electronic copy of the plays now or a proper printed paperback once the books are published. That way you can see if it’s a good fit or not.
I really prefer to send an ebook because it’s cheaper and faster. So I will tend to offer that first. But if they ask for a print copy, send it! And be sure to send them a print copy oince the book is published, with a nice thank you note! First, it’s a nice way to say thanks and second, there’s always a chance they will do something with it later on, or show it to someone and you might make other connections that way,