Celebrity endorsements, also called blurbs, are those little quotes that appear on your book’s cover, or in the front matter of the pages. Example: “This was a riveting ride from start to finish”–Stephen King. You might get one or several.
Celebrity blurbs can be a real
minefield for the new-up-and-coming author who is about to release
his/her prized tome. Even some great mid-listers can get caught up in
this hunt for star approval. BTW, soliciting for a blurb should take
place about three months before release. There are many Big 5 houses
that start a marketing campaign six months in advance! Catalogs and
free e-copies start raining down on the reading public, with the
purpose to entice, tease, dare and suck anyone into anticipating the
new wunder child’s masterpiece. These promos can also be galleys or ARC
copies of the book. Just make sure you leave enough time to get the
blurb on the cover or in the front matter before it hits retail. The
earlier the better, because this little admiration/vindication blip
can be used to boost pre-order and future sales. Otherwise, if it’s
post-release time and you haven’t done anything, it could cost you or
your publisher a small fortune to send out trade or hardback copies in
order to catch up. This has happened to me. Then there is an additional
So who should be solicited for a gold star blurb?
Unless you know them, please refrain from contacting the current heavy
hitters–Charlaine Harris, Stephanie Meyer, Veronica Roth, Susanne
Collins–and certainly avoid King, Rice and Rowling. You aren’t dust
underneath their shoes (in a figurative sense–no one hates you).
But…they don’t know you; they likely haven’t got time for you and you
could be a bother in the middle of their busy lives.
Please don’t send
them copies cold. You can ask first if you are intent on it. That’s
the reality of it. While we’re at it, you might pass on the
self-published heavy weight stars because they are also in demand and
loaded down with time constraints. Believe me, I went that route and I
knew a few of them personally. At this very minute they might be using
my book pages to clean up pet spills. These are busy, busy people.
The self-published crowd definitely has to do the soliciting
themselves. They might even be better at it than any trade-published
author! In fact, I think they get real good at it and have more
success in their contacts within their own ranks. The indie community
is huge and tight-knit.
Now who should send out copies for
blurbs? Aside from some exceptions, not you right yet (indies
excluded). Successful mid-list and recent breakout novelists just
might give you the time. If you personally know a fairly successful
author, give it a shot. I can speak from experience and tell you that
I’ve lost a half dozen hardback books that cost $30.00 apiece,
countless trade paperbacks and a truckload of ARCs. I knew these
high-profile authors from some venue or another. They knew me.
Circumstances got in the way–it happens.
In 1990, Ralph Nader agreed to do the foreword in my auto repair
book. My editor told me the great news. I was delighted with the
prospect. Little did I know that my publisher paid $4,000 for a page of
comments (Foreword) and then they took that amount out of my
royalties. DO NOT PAY-FOR-PLAY BLURBS. Ever. That goes for pre-order
reviews, too. Read your publisher’s contract and make sure they don’t
have the right to pull royalties or advance money from you for a
celebrity endorsement, or any promotion or marketing efforts.
What can go wrong with hunting down blurbs? Those star authors don’t
have the time to read your book–they’re way too busy. Your
solicitation could be construed as a sign of desperation. They might
think your publisher is beneath them, or that your publisher trademark
is really a disguised self-published label. They read it and hated it
(or very unlikely that they read it). You’re a bothersome intrusion
into their privacy, even if you’re a fan. They can get free copies this
way without payment or risk. It happens. You’ve nudged them too often
and annoyed them.
Your publisher will solicit blurbs. Seen from
the eyes of the celebrity author (or whoever), it is more respectful.
The publisher is not as obviously biased or as desperate as an
inquiring author. There is more weight behind a publisher request–more
status–more importance and dignity. You might get the email or home
address of the author wrong. The publisher marketing team, not you,
will know who to send copies or books to in advance. This is their
expertise –they’ve done it They probably have a marketing and sales
department, and a publicity manager loaded for bear and ready to get
you a shot in the lime light. They also have a tried and true list of
contacts, and they certainly know how to target your book better than
If you are determined to be proactive, go ahead. Coordinate with
your publisher, though. You don’t want submission repeats to the same
source. If you have landed numerous celebrity blurbs by your own hand
without your publisher’s assistance, you’ve performed a small
miracle. If you have a repeat celebrity author giving you grand
endorsements, then you are locked in. I doff my worn fedora to you.
Just be careful. Target celeb authors who write in your genre. Don’t send a contemporary romance to Clive Barker or Dean Koontz.
Never mind if you’ve bought a truckload of books and tossed them
every which way in sundry. There’s no reason to go into dept before
your book is published. Sure, send some signed paperbacks out there,
but purchase single copies and not cases of your book.
A neat little plan that works is to join some fan clubs of your
favorite authors or even movie stars. Be sincere with yourself and
choose those persons that you truly admire. Be active with your comments
on their pages, and once in awhile you will actually get responses,
likes, semi-recommendations, re-Tweets or even followers. This kind of
association can take you off the dirt road and place you on the major
highway. It can be effective in building your name brand. This move
takes a while to cultivate. You can’t rush it. You can’t (or shouldn’t)
come right out and ask for favors in a comment section or PM. If you
appeal to the celeb in any fashion, trust me, they will contact you. I
can attest to this because I’ve done it.
Red-shifting out of here. Happy blurb trails!