Christina on Endorsements

The following is a guest post by Executive Editor Christina Parisi on a subject editors are frequently asked about–endorsements.

Many publishers and marketers encourage authors to get endorsements to help market their book. I beg to differ.

As book buying behavior moves more and more online (both physical and ebooks), authors should consider how this changes purchasing behavior and whether getting endorsements is the best use of their time and resources.

Endorsements usually appear on the back jacket of a book, and online purchasers have a lot of information to weed through before they see endorsements. Plus, endorsements are not considered by algorithms used by online booksellers, so having killer endorsements won’t improve a book’s ranking and get it discovered. There is also a growing cynicism about endorsements in general. Many people know that to get them authors often have to have a personal connection.

My biggest argument against endorsements is opportunity cost. If an author asks his or her contacts to give endorsements, it becomes awkward to later ask them to support a book in other ways that carry more weight in terms of driving sales.

Consider this:

  • According to Pew Research 28% of ebook readers said they get recommendations from online bookstores or other websites. It’s a no-brainer that good reviews on online bookselling sites can improve your sales. Even though the reviews on some sites have been viewed with skepticism by the public, by and large consumers still like and trust peer reviews. Authors just have to make sure they are doing it ethically and not encouraging people to post reviews if they haven’t read the book. Instead of asking for a quote for the book jacket, authors can ask their contacts to post an honest review on an online bookseller. The more reviews for a book the better it will do in search, and ultimately that will affect sales more than endorsements.
  • More compelling is another fact by Pew Research: 64% of those 16 and older said they get book recommendations from family members, friends, or co-workers. This is a hard statistic to ignore. As more people get into social media, these recommendations are being made more and more via networks like Goodreads, Facebook, Linkedin and so on. If a book is a mid-list book, an author should know that Goodreads is designed to improve discoverability of midlist books. Shouldn’t an author’s contacts review the book there or on other social media where it could catch the attention of others instead of on a stagnant book jacket where it might not even be seen until after the book is purchased?

Don’t get me wrong. If authors can get a guru related to their field to say their book is the best book on the subject they have ever read, that is worth getting and possibly worth putting on the cover. If endorsements are from mere mortals they will have less impact on the general buyer. I suppose an author can ask people to provide an endorsement and write a review, but how likely are they to support a book multiple times unless you are talking about someone’s mother, and most people would not consider someone’s mother a credible endorser anyway. So, my advice to authors is to always make sure if you ask your contacts to do one thing to help you, make sure it’s the one thing that will most help your book sell.

Christina Parisi is an Executive Editor at AMACOM Books and the Director of AMA Self-Studies. She has been with AMACOM for 13 years and acquires books in management, leadership, training, HR, and general business. For book submission guidelines, see our website.

Earlier posts by Christina:

Four Critical Tips for Killer Book Titles


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