Reviewers and Endorsers and Influencers, Oh My!

You didn’t really think those book reviews in the New York Times or the major newspaper in your home town just appeared on their own, did you? Publishers provide advance review copies (ARCs) of  books to the reviewers at these papers. Multiply that by hundreds of publications, from large ones such as Library Journal to smaller or specialized ones such as The Suspense Zone and you see the magnitude of the process. There’s a good bit of decision-making in sending out ARCs to reviewers. But one good review at a major site can result in the sales of hundreds of books. Each publisher has a long list of potential reviewers. It’s the job of the marketing department to match each book with appropriate sites to receive ARCs.

As for endorsers, these are the people who write one- and two-line squibs that appear on the cover or just inside book. For example, the hope is that you’re more likely to buy my novel if you look at the back cover and see that a respected author said, “Lethal Remedy is the perfect cure for boredom: a first-rate medical thriller with humor, engaging characters, and realism that only a seasoned doctor could bring to the story.”

Who lines up endorsers? It varies. Authors, agent, publishers all participate in the process, and it varies with each of them. In my case, I personally contact all my possible endorsers. I make the following stipulations: if they agree, they’ll be sent an ARC with a view to endorsement if they have the time, can read the book, and truly endorse it. So far, the only negative responders have been those with time crunches due to their own writing deadlines.
Then what is an influencer? These are people whom you hope will read the book, like it, and tell others. They’re people with large blog followings. They’re church and public librarians. They’re the heads of book clubs. The list can be huge, but again economics rears its ugly head, so distribution of ARCs to influencers must be limited. I sweat bullets over the list I turn in with each book, knowing that I’ve probably forgotten some important people.

Writing the novel is just the first step. Then you hope to get an agent and eventually a contract. After that comes the editing process. Is that all? No, now you have to think about ARCs and endorsers. The fun never stops, does it?

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Richard L. Mabry, MD, is the author of the Prescription For Trouble series of medical thrillers. His latest novel is Lethal Remedy. He also serves the ACFW as Vice-President. You can learn more about him at his website and follow him on his blog.

5 thoughts on “Reviewers and Endorsers and Influencers, Oh My!

  1. What a great explanation, Doc! I think before I had written my book, I really DID think reviews and endorsements just wrote themselves. Now I know better. This also has made me realize how important it is for us as authors to not only read eachother’s work, but also to work hard to influence for one another. I love to read– so the reading part is easy for me– but since I became an author, I’ve worked really hard to always take it one step further and write Amazon reviews, send book recommendations to friends, post reviews on my blog, etc. because I know how important influential readers are to authors. Great post.

  2. As a publisher of trade magazines, I often have people email or call me about reviewing their books. I decline, knowing that I will never have time to read them. They are sometimes disappointed and occasionally offended, but I’m really just trying to help them save money and minimize my guilt over another unread book.

    Sometimes the books show up anyway. They usually get thrown away and only one was read — and then reviewed.

  3. Thanks for your comments. I’ll admit that I never thought about endorsements and influencers when I was networking and making friends among fellow authors, but it’s amazing how many times those early relationships allowed me to feel comfortable asking for their help–and vice-versa. The writing community is truly just that–a community.

  4. Great post Richard! There’s also those trade journals that require pre-publication books weeks in advance of the pub date before they’ll even consider a review at all. I was fortunate though with my first thriller, Wired to snag a great review with Library Journal that resulted in a lot of library sales. It’s true that the journey is never finished.

  5. I used to wonder if those “endorsements” on the back cover really helped. After all, only the best rave reviews would be put on the cover. Then one day I caught myself looking at some endorsements for a newly published book. . . and I saw one of my favorite authors’ names. I was immediately more interested in the book. 😀

    Just a quick observation I thought interesting: all three of those ways of promoting rely on the promoter’s relationship with people. I have to like the author of the blog that I see a review on in order to be interested in the book. I have to like or trust the person whose endorsement I hear. I have to have some sort of personal connection with the influencer.

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