Getting celebrity testimonials or endorsements is an effective way to boost sales, add publicity and credibility to your book, and attract attention from booksellers and libraries. As a small press author, I don’t think I would have any trouble getting reviews from Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal if printed on the front cover of my vampire novel were a testimonial by Anne Rice. Yeah, I know… dare to dream. Well, I actually checked on her website for her contact info, and although there’s a way to get in touch with her (that’s not to say she’ll answer my message), she makes it plainly clear that she won’t read other author’s manuscripts. With famous authors, this seems to be the rule.
Mid-level authors with big publishers have more luck because the publishers themselves (or at least their publicists) take care of this job. But how can small press authors get testimonials from celebrities when it’s so difficult to make contact, and when celebrities are too busy to read other’s works?
One way is through conferences and associations. By attending conferences in your book’s genre, you’re able to make connections and meet other authors, including famous ones. Even if you don’t meet famous ones, you might meet people who actually know them and could put a word for you. If you’re shy to socialize, just pretend you’re not yourself for the duration of the conference. This might sound silly, but the other day I read an interview where they asked the successful CEO of a famous company what her secret was, and she said, “I just pretend I’m Jennifer Lopez.”
Another way to get testimonials is by doing a search on the internet. Just type: “celebrity contacts.” Remember many celebrities have websites with their contact info.
You may also check http://www.ContactAnyCelebrity.com. This is a database with over 54,000 celebrities. Remember to choose people who are recognizable in your field.
Another resource is http://www.ParaPublishing.com (Doc. 609).
I’d recommend first querying before actually sending an ARC or draft of your book. Making contact by snail mail is more effective because of the problems with spam, though follow-up emails are fine.
When querying, remember the following:
* Make it easy for the celebrity to answer you. Always include a S.A.SE.
* Send a personal letter explaining what the book is about. Include all relevant information about the book—publisher, ISBN, publication date, etc.
* If you already have reviews or other endorsements (even by unknown authors), include them. Also mention any awards won.
* The more personal, the better. A handwritten post-it or note will get attention.
* Tell the celebrity how much you admire their work, and how honoured you’d feel if he or she gave you a testimonial. Many celebrities will feel flattered.
* Remind the celebrity how giving you a testimonial would actually give him or her free publicity.
If you haven’t heard from the person in two weeks, send a follow up letter. If he declines to read your book, thank him anyway. He might not read your book now, but he might do it next time. Once he agrees to look at your book, send him an ARC or draft. Some writers include an easy-to-fill out form to make it easy for the celebrity. Of course, never forget the S.A.S.E. If you don’t hear from him in three weeks, send a follow-up letter. The secret is to be persistent, but always polite.
And remember, you’ll never know the possibilities until you try!
Mayra Calvani is an author and book reviewer. Her stories, articles and reviews have appeared on many online and print publications in the States, England and Puerto Rico. Check out her latest release, Embraced by the Shadows, at: http://www.bookswelove.net/calvani.html
Copyright ©2006 by Mayra Calvani / All Rights Reserved. This column may not be copied nor printed in any form without permission from the author.