By Sandra Beckwith
In recent conversations with authors, I’ve noticed that several use the terms “book endorsement” and “book review” interchangeably.
That’s not a good idea.
In the book publishing business, they have different meanings and purposes. Using them incorrectly could confuse the people supporting you. In addition, you could end up with the opposite of what you want and need.
So, what are they, how are they different, and why does it matter? Here’s the short course.
Book endorsements defined
A book endorsement is advance praise for your book from someone who influences your book’s target audience. The publishing industry refers to this as a “blurb,” while marketers call it a “testimonial.”
You pursue and secure endorsements before you (or your publisher) release the book so you can include them on your:
- Front or back cover
- Book’s inside front pages
- “Editorial Reviews” section of the Amazon sales page
- Marketing materials
Many authors create “quote cards” as part of their marketing materials. These social media graphics overlay an endorsement excerpt onto a background that reflects the book’s branding.
They’re the perfect home for advance testimonials. Here’s an example of one for best-seller American Dirt: A Novel.
Endorsers influence your audience
You can pull a testimonial from a pre-publication trade/literary/media review (see below), but more often than not, they’re from influential people in your book’s niche or category.
These don’t come to you randomly, of course. You’ve carefully selected your “blurbers.” They’re the people your target readers like and respect, and you’ve planned ahead and contacted them weeks before the publication date. (For more on this, read 3 Ways to Get Your Dream Endorsement on this site.)
Unlike book reviews in general – whether they’re trade/literary/media reviews or reader reviews – the endorsements you use to promote your book are always positive. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be endorsements.
It’s possible you’ll get a less-than-positive statement from someone you asked to endorse your book. It happens sometimes, but of course you won’t use it. You might be able to learn from that feedback and even use it to improve the manuscript, but it has no role in your book marketing.
Book reviews come in two forms
With endorsements, you can ignore those you don’t like. Nobody will see them. It doesn’t work that way with reviews, though, because they serve a different purpose.
Blurbs/endorsements/testimonials exist to support your book marketing. Reviews, on the other hand, are designed to help readers decide which books to read. They are for readers, not authors.
Book reviews come in two forms:
- Media/trade/literary reviews
- Reader reviews
Media/trade/literary reviews are written by professional book reviewers. Their job is to provide objective commentary that will help people decide if they want to read the book. They can come from publishing industry publications such as Kirkus Reviews or Publisher’s Weekly plus trade magazines, newspapers, and certain blogs and websites.
You solicit this type of review before publication for two reasons. First, most media outlets want to publish the review around the publication date so they need the advance review copy (ARC) weeks in advance. Second, you can pull positive excerpts from them and use that language as blurbs in the same way you use endorsements from key influencers.
Note that while you can use them in your marketing materials, technically, they are not endorsements or testimonials. They’re honest reviews from the pros that happen to be so favorable that they might influence readers.
Most authors are more familiar with the other type, reader reviews (Amazon calls them “customer reviews”). They are exactly that — reviews from the people you wrote the book for.
You can pursue them before publication by giving away advance review copies. Unlike blurbs and literary reviews, however, they can’t be posted on your Amazon sales page until the book’s publication date.
You aren’t limited to seeking honest reader reviews only before or around your publication date, though. In fact, soliciting reviews should be ongoing and never-ending, so make it part of your regular promotional activity.
Why should you care?
Blurbs — endorsements and testimonials from influential people — give your book credibility while reassuring your target audience that the book will deliver on its promise.
Honest reviews, whether they’re from media outlets or readers, help readers decide if your book is what they’re looking for in fiction or nonfiction. They often contain more information than endorsements, so they can be more useful to readers.
Even negative reviews are important, since what one reader didn’t like about your book might be exactly what another reader is looking for.
Both are the “social proof” that you’re written a great book, so make sure you’ve got strategies for soliciting both endorsements and reviews in your book marketing plan. They’re essential to your book’s long-term and ongoing success.