Always manage the message
When you ask people to endorse your book, they will likely invest time into reading the book and writing a response. Once they have done that, they will not want to write another endorsement if you think their comments are superficial, tangential to the point of your book, or are somehow useless. To avoid or reduce the chances of getting low-value endorsements, you need to manage the process.
The endorsement process begins with you, the publisher or author. It begins by first determining your mission statement as an author, the value proposition and unique selling point of your book, and finally the hoped-for reader experience. Put simply, ask yourself: What do you aim to achieve as an author? What is the value of your book to readers? What makes your book unique or better than other books on the subject? And finally, will readers find your book easy to use and desirable as a book (this is partly a content development and book design issue).
DO NOT ask the endorsers to figure out what value your book has or how it is unique. Point out these facts and ask them to comment on them. Make the process easy for them.
The answers to these questions can form the basis of your endorsement strategy. If the endorsements speak to these qualities, then you will have high-quality endorsements. Ask the people you select to give endorsements that mention these qualities. If they are agreeing to endorse your book, they already understand that the purpose is to help you promote the book. Most readers will not object to receiving guidance. It actually makes the process easier for them.
Start with a general checklist. The checklist is only for your own privately use when you are making endorsement requests. The checklist can include the following:
- The book’s main value proposition: How the book is useful, beneficial, or desirable to readers.
- The book’s unique selling point: How the book is different from other books—such as, more up to date, only illustrated book on the subject, more comprehensive, more concise, whatever.
- The book product qualities: Developmental and design qualities can include organization, readability, helpful illustrations and maps, useful tables and resource lists, etc. Also, print features and qualities if applicable, such as recycled paper, foldout maps, beautiful photographs, etc.
- The Book’s value to readers: Value for money is different than expense compared to other books. Your book may have a higher price than other competing books due to a shorter print run or better print quality. Even when this doesn’t happen, it is good to understand any qualities that make your book better value for the reader. Compete on value first.
- Literary quality: Ability to transport the reader, or be easily read and answer questions, change and inspire lives, etc. Comments about the literary quality will depend on the genre of the book and intended readership.
When you request an endorsement consider the endorser’s qualifications and then ask that person to speak about those aspects of the book that they are most qualified to consider. If several endorsers have praised how well you have written about the subjects, ask other endorsers to speak about other aspects of the book such as a particular sub-theme, the book’s personal impact on them, or utility for certain types of readers. If the book is creative, an illustrated guide or coffee-table book, ask them to speak about the design and print quality. By managing the process you will be able to collect a range of endorsements that will convince readers of your book’s value.
To learn more about endorsement strategies, read my post How to use endorsements.