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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Begging Endorsements

I'm no stranger to begging endorsements. Years before I earned my first contract I garnered a pretty impressive list of endorsers. Did this help me get published? No. It might have gotten an agent or editor to look at my stuff, but that's about it. My work wasn't ready and even if John Irving or Stephen King said it was fantastic, it probably wouldn't do much to sway an editor who knew better.


So, now that I actually have a novel releasing, I once again was faced with the daunting and uncomfortable task of begging folks who can write really well to take precious days out of their life to read my work in hopes they liked it.

It's sort of interesting though, the folks who said they absolutely would read my book for endorsement ended up backing out due to their own deadlines, and the ones who said "No promises" came through in the end.

Long before it was time to ask, I had made a list of people who I thought would make good endorsers. Ideally they would:

* Have good name recognition.
*Be excellent writers

*Share my genre

*Be natural influencers

My biggest fear would be that NOBODY would endorse me. My second biggest fear was that they would but half-heartedly with blurbs that wouldn't do much to sway potential readers. Something like, "Gina Holmes' debut novel is a solid attempt." or one of those quotes that basically just tells a little about the story without commiting to whether or not the endorser thought it was any good. "Crossing Oceans is a tale of heartbreak and triumph."

I had really hoped for a quote worthy of the front of the book. I was beside myself with glee when the author of one of the best selling novels of the century agreed to read Crossing Oceans. She didn't ultimately come through due to a deadline of her own, which was very disappointing, but when one door closes, another opens and one of my favorite writers, NYT best-selling Tess Gerritsen did come through with a beautiful quote that you can now see on the front of my book.

Another highlight of this process was getting a phone call from my writing idol, Charles Martin. We talked craft and publicity awhile and he gave me another quote you'll find on my novel. There was no one's endorsement I coveted more than his. I just think he's such an amazing writer.


Since I've recently been through this endorsement-begging process, I thought I'd share a few tips with you. I'm sure others will chime in and add to this list as well. I hope they will at least.

A few pointers for begging endorsements pre and post contract:


1. Remember most authors have a policy against endorsing something before it's contracted, so don't take it personal if you get a lot of no's. Expect that.


2. I generally have the same policy but if a person has been particularly helpful to me, a friend, and their writing or message is exceptional, rules were meant to be broken.
3. Make friends, help others, and expect nothing in return. Good things come to those who do good things. People will be more apt to want to help you if they see you helping others.

4. Attend writers conferences, write thank you letters, comment on blogs. These friends may end up being your future endorsers.

5. Be honest with yourself. If your stuff really isn't publishing worthy just yet, don't try to get people to say it is. You're blowing your one chance by firing off the arrow too early. Wait until your writing is "ripe" for publication.

6. Cast a wide net. I wouldn't go overboard and ask a hundred people to endorse your book, but in my case at least, something like half of the folks who said they would didn't come through in the end.

7. Be gracious if people say no. It's most likely due to time constraints. These folks get hundreds of requests to endorse. They can't read everything. Sometimes your potential endorser might be saying no because they aren't crazy about your style, genre or message. In other words, they don't like your book and they don't want the hassle and ill-will of telling you so.

8. It's normal to feel icky asking people to endorse your work. Remember the people you're asking have most likely have had and will have to ask others for the same favor.

In case you're curious, here are the
endorsements I did get for Crossing Oceans:



“Beautiful and heartfelt.” Charles Martin, NYT bestselling author of Where the River Ends

“Poignant and unforgettable, CROSSING OCEANS will break your heart — and then put the pieces back together again. This is an uplifting and inspiring tale that reminds us to live every day as if it’s our last.” Tess Gerritsen, NYT Best-selling author.

“Moving, heart-rending and poignant, a stunning debut. Holmes returns us to what matters in a too-short life—what it really is to come home.” Tosca Lee, Author of Havah & Demon: A Memoir

“Gina Holmes explores the beauty, tenderness and tenacity of mother-love in Crossing Oceans with marvelous skill and insight. An outstanding debut from a gifted storyteller. Bravo!" Susan Meissner, Author of The Shape of Mercy

“Crossing Oceans is a confident debut, understated yet powerful.”Eric Wilson, NYT bestselling author of Fireproof & Field of Blood

“This story will wring you out and hang you up to dry. It’s beautifully written and deep as a river.” Lauraine Snelling, author of A Measure of Mercy

“A stunning debut novel about love, loss, and the circle of life. Gina Holmes knows how to find laughter in tragedy. . . . Her characters will grab you by the heart and have you laughing, crying, and holding your breath.” Marshall Karp, author of The Rabbit Factory

Crossing Oceans reminds me of A Walk to Remember and The Notebook both written by Nicholas Sparks. Gina has an amazing gift to masterfully blend together a memorable story filled with tenderness, hope, love, forgiveness, and a sense of well-timed humor. This story touched my heart deeply. Nora St. Laurent, president and founder of Finding Hope Through Fiction book club

“I finished Crossing Oceans just moments ago and the tears are still wet on my cheeks. What a touching, delightful story! Poignant and beautifully written, Crossing Oceans is a lyrical testament to the hope we have when we believe.” Deborah Raney,author ofAlmost Forever and the Clayburn Novels

Crossing Oceans now available for pre-order on Amazon & CBD.

9 comments:

Jennifer Lyn King said...

Gina,

Thank you for passing on what you've learned from the endorsement process, so that others not as far along can benefit from your experience. A gift.

Looking forward to reading your debut soon!

Jennifer King

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks for taking the time to say that Jennifer. I appreciate it!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I love number eight - about feeling icky inside. i think that actually applies to a lot of situations in life where we have to do something that makes us feel vulnerable or dependent on others. Thanks for the reminder that I am not the only one that feels that way!

Ashley Weis said...

That's so funny that you posted this! I just sent you an email about the Charles endorsement. That is 100% awesome!

I'm sure none of us enjoy asking people to read our books and endorse. It makes me feel whiny and desperate, and I haven't even done that yet! But asking for help in others ways has not been the most exciting thing.

Wouldn't it be nice if our favorite authors emailed us and said, "Hey! I'd LOVE an ARC copy of your book to read and endorse."

Maybe as established authors (which I am not yet) we should approach new authors who intrigue us and do just that. Might make the day brighter for some people!

Ashley Weis said...

BTW - Crossing Oceans is FABULOUS. Sometimes I think endorsements are just a bunch of friends praising an author they love, but these endorsements couldn't be any closer to the truth!

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks Rebeca. Yeah, ookie is a universal feeling I guess. Ashley, knowing my luck, if I approached a new author to endorse them, they'd turn me down and then it would be like being rejected on both sides of the fence. It might be seen as a little presumptous anyway. I'll offer Leif Enger and see what he says :) Ha, that actually would be fun. I think I will and post about it. Thanks for reading and liking Oceans. You're a tough one to please so I was nervous. I'm so glad you liked it! We have very similar reading tastes.

Ron Estrada said...

Now there's a worry I hadn't thought of! Mine would probably say "Ron has very nice hair" or "Hilarious!" for my suspense novel.

Nicole said...

Kind of from a different angle, I'd rather those asked say no if they have no serious intention of making time to read it with an open heart/mind.
And, yeah, if you're not really sure of the author's tastes or interest, ookie pretty much nails it.

Gina Holmes said...

I doubt it, Ron. You're a great writer. Nicole, I can't argue with that. Thanks guys.