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 print cost.
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 you do.
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!