How I’m Going to Book my Blog—Getting Testimonials

by Joel Friedlander on February 23, 2011 · 16 comments

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Well, if you put one foot in front of the other and just keep going, eventually you get to your destination.

I set out to create a book quickly. I wanted it to be a book that would be readable, useful, interesting and maybe a bit of fun. It seemed like a far-away goal a few weeks ago when I decided to dive into my blog archives to find a manuscript. That was on January 11.

Two weeks later the book was mostly done. That was January 27.

Of course, anyone who has put a book together themselves knows full well what “mostly done” really means. The last ten percent, the details, where you cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s. Yeah, the hard part.

Finally the 232-page proof along with the cover, went out to a small list of people I hope will enjoy the book and offer a promotional quote for me to use in my book marketing efforts. That was February 15. I asked people to respond by the end of the month if possible.

I hoped that others would see the book as answering the need of authors new to self-publishing for an orientation to what’s going on in the indie publishing world. The big view, so to speak.

There are numerous books that will tell you where to get an ISBN, how to assemble a review package, and the address of the Library of Congress. Did we really need another one? There are many articles on my blog on these subjects, and I’m making them available as I roll out the Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guides series, which is designed to present specific answers, links and resources on different areas that you might need to know about when you publish a book.

This book appeared be on a different mission:

  • To provide an overview of the word of modern self-publishing.
  • Make an argument in favor of indie publishing, of taking control of your publishing life.
  • Offer tips on how self-publishers can use the assets that have become available to make better books faster and more efficiently than ever before.
  • Provide encouragement for writers making the move to self-publishing.

I think it fulfills this mission pretty well. But the people who will decide whether that’s true are the people the book is intended for. To accomplish this, I had to get testimonials from other people. It isn’t enough that I think it’s a great book for self-publishers to have. It will be far more believable if somebody else—especially someone with authority in the field—says it too.

Testimonials Help Sell Books, and More

This strategy of sending out advance copies and asking for testimonials or “blurbs” is an old one. The hope is that the person giving the blurb influences potential book buyers who now have an authority’s word that the book is worthwhile.

When I had a publishing company we quickly learned which authors in our field were ready to contribute a blurb to almost any project. I think some authors see it as a form of marketing, and spread their name as widely as possible.

In any event, this is a sensitive time for any writer. Will people like it? Will people even “get” it? After all, this is not a typical self-publishing book. Responses are just starting to come in.

If I’m lucky enough to get some good responses, they will appear on the back of the book and in any promotional material I develop for marketing use. These might include:

  • press releases
  • sales page copy
  • editorial reviews that you can post on Amazon and other retail sites, and
  • articles written around the launch of the book.

There’s a reason sales pages usually have many testimonials. As social animals, we are influenced by other people, and especially by people who we hold in high regard, or people who seem a lot like us.

These blurbs perform another function, too. Each writer condenses their experience with the book, or what they found most useful, into just a few sentences. This act of compression brings out essential qualities of the book from a different perspective than the author’s.

Sometimes You Have to Ask

I put a lot of thought into the email I sent to this select group of authors, bloggers, publishing pros and thought leaders. I have a lot of respect for each of them, and I wanted to present the book in just the right way, without taking any more time than necessary.

Speaking as someone who is processing a couple of hundred emails a day, nothing is more disheartening than opening an email that someone has sent about a book project and finding a 2,000 word description that, frankly, I just don’t have time to read.

Here’s what I came up with. It fit into 285 words:

I’ve been blogging on self-publishing and related topics since the end of 2009. Now I’ve created a book from some of those hundreds of blog posts: A Self-Publisher’s Companion.

This isn’t another “how-to” book that tells you where to get your ISBNs or how to write a press release. We have some wonderful and encyclopedic books already that do a fine job at that.

No, this is more of a “why-to” book about independent publishing. I’ve tried to make it readable, useful and inspiring for newcomers to this exciting and dynamic field.

You can be the judge of whether I’ve succeeded.

I’m writing to you because I know you share my excitement with indie publishing and my aim to help educate authors thinking about self-publishing. I’ll be launching this book in late March and I’d like to offer you a copy to review now.

If you find the book helpful, I would love to receive an endorsement I can use in promoting the book. Endorsements will be most helpful if I can receive them before the end of February, although they are appreciated anytime.

Below is a temporary download link for the book. The link will expire shortly, and I would appreciate you keeping both the advance copy and the link private. This invitation is for a small group of people only. If you do choose to endorse the book, please don’t forget to let me know exactly how you would like to be credited.

I know you’re at least as busy as I am, so I’ve tried to take up the minimum amount of your time. I hope you enjoy the book, and thanks in advance for any help you might be inclined to offer.

When I was writing this email I felt it was as important as anything I had written in the book. I went through about four drafts before I felt it was just right. It really pays to put your best effort into these important communications, because they can have such a far-reaching effect.

One of the most exciting parts of self-publishing is getting to launch a book and seeing how the concept fares when it meets the market. I can’t wait to find out.

Photo by The Creative Penn

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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    Marianne Spitzer October 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Joel,
    I love your posts.
    They are always useful.
    Being a newbie at self-publishing, I find your posts help me to feel more empowered and less frightened by the world of self-publishing.
    Keep the posts coming.
    Best of everything.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Marianne, glad to help and thanks for reading.

    Reply

    Elisa Michelle March 2, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Good luck, Joel. Your email is definitely professional, and I love the bit about a why-to instead of a how-to. A nice catch, for sure.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 2, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Thanks, Elisa. I’ve received some very generous responses.

    Reply

    Marla Markman February 24, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Joel,
    As usual, a very instructional post. I do think that getting testimonials is sometimes a mysterious and intimidating process for authors. I love how you have shared with your readers the actual text and thought processes you have gone through on this journey. Great series!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks, Marla. I’m fascinated when people tell actual detail, aren’t you? That’s why I wanted to include as much of this as possible. I’ll have pricing info in another installment too, with real costs etc.

    Reply

    Christopher Wills February 23, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Hi Joel I look forward to your book being published. It sounds just like the kind of information I look for when I cruise the blogs. Or is the word ‘surf’ or is there another word? I like ‘bimble the blogs;’ it’s got alliteration, although it has two syllables so it will probably never catch on.
    I am hoping to publish my first novel by the end of March and I never thought about getting Testimonials before, but what a great idea. I learn something valuable from every one of your posts.
    Now all I have to do is find someone who might like a book about a girl who runs away from home and lots of bad things happen to her. But the ending is positive without being too happy.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 23, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Christopher,

    I think you can cruise or surf, but bimble, that’s something special. I bet you won’t have to look very far to find people interested in your book, good luck!

    Reply

    Tom Evans February 23, 2011 at 3:21 am

    I’m one of the lucky early reviewers and half way through the book.

    Here’s an early testimonial.

    “Written by someone who has been there, got the T-shirt and walks his talk. If you are thinking of self-publishing, this book is a definitive guide on how to do it … and how not to do it. If you are a traditional publisher, this book is a guide to how you may have to adjust your business model to continue to add value to your clients.”

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 23, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Tom, thanks. I really appreciate it.

    Reply

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