Monday, August 6, 2012

Author Endorsements, Continued ...

Back in January, I wrote here about the process of trying to find published authors to endorse my novel. It's a tricky thing, asking someone you don't know, whose reputation is on the line, to say publicly that they think your work is worth reading.

Authors, especially the popular ones, are inundated with these requests--from their agents, their publishers, and from first-time novelists like me--on top of being on deadline for their own novels, traveling for book promotions, and taking care of their families, teaching, or doing whatever it is most of them do for a "real" (read: wage-earning) living. And I am quickly learning what these successful writers already know: there are only so many hours in the day, and if you have a life, finding time to write anything ain't easy.

My process of asking for endorsements, as I mentioned in the January post, was pretty straight-forward--mostly because I'd never done it before, and knew no other way. (In a nutshell: my agent reached out to one of his authors, the historical novelist Beverly Swerling, who offered an incredible blurb.Other than that, I did it on my own. In the post I explain my methods.)

To my amazement, it worked!

In all, I reached out to 16 authors. These are authors who, A) write historical fiction similar to mine, B) are regional/Southern writers, like me, and C) who are essentially my favorite living writers. I went big with "C." I figured, why not give it a try? Of course, all of them also have a readership I'd hope to reach.

(Quick word of advice to those of you who are seeking your own blurbs: Do it as soon as possible, even before you receive the ARCs of your novel. Like one of my publishers told me, authors are notorious for taking quite a long time to provide a quote or blurb. Some may even forget they said "yes" to you when you touch base with them months later!)

Out of those 16 authors I queried, 15 said they'd love to read my novel. One very nicely declined.

Out of the 15 who said they'd read the novel:
- 3 said they ultimately could not provide a blurb (most referred to "lack of time," and some "health issues" as their reasoning--all were very kind and apologetic)
- 8 provided wonderful blurbs/ endorsements
- 4 are still reading (and I'm crossing my fingers they meet my publisher's deadline)

It's been incredible and humbling experience, having writers I admire so much say such nice things about my work. I'm not afraid to admit it: Sometimes I look at what they've said once a day ... just to be sure it's all real.

One, or two, of these endorsements will appear on the front and back covers of my novel when it comes out in September. (My publishers will choose which.) The rest will appear inside. And now, these wonderful words are mine: I can use them, refer to them, and hug 'em like a teddy bear until I'm old and gray.

The moral of the story is, GO BIG. Reach out. You never know what will happen.

Case in point: One of my literary idols, I writer I've adored since I was 10 years old, whose novels were so important to my family it's like the man was our literary patron saint, wrote an endorsement for my novel. And left a voicemail on my cell phone. In my wildest dreams, I never thought this would happen.

More to come on this, later this week.

For now, Happy Monday. Go big, my friends!