Wednesday, January 10, 2007

AG: This is an Endorsement Free Posting



Just this morning I sent off a set of endorsements for a fellow writer. Endorsements are part of the writing life. Once you’ve published a few books here and there, requests for endorsements begin to trickle in. Endorsements are those short blurbs that appear on the cover of books, in promo material and on web pages. And, of course, these are positive statements meant to encourage the potential book buyer. (Who would buy a book with the endorsement: “This book reads like a root canal.”)

Usually, I agree to “read for endorsement” with reluctance. I do so for several reasons. First, I’m a ponderously slow reader. Empires have risen and fallen in the time it takes me to read a handful of books. Two, many publishers and authors assume that agreeing to read for endorsement is the same thing as saying, “Yes, I will read it and praise it beyond all measure.”

More than once, a writer has asked me to endorse a book that orbits a star of a different genre. Some have even gone so far as to ask for an Alton Gansky endorsement on a romance novel. A ROMANCE novel! I try to explain that I have a dominant Y-chromosome that makes such a thing difficult if not impossible. If a book doesn’t have gunfire, a fistfight, or a detailed description of a television remote control, then I lose interest. Okay, I’m exaggerating (no, I’m not). I received one book with a note that read something like this: “This isn’t a romance novel. It has romance elements but in reality it’s a suspense novel. It’s a romantic suspense, just the thing for a suspense writer like you.”

It was a romance novel. Calling a Dachshund a Doberman doesn’t make it so.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the genre (or Dachshunds). Some of my best friends are romance novelists so there is no literary bigotry here. It’s just that I don’t read romance, don’t write romance, don’t understand romance (the genre I mean, not…never mind), and have no idea what makes for a good romance novel. You might as well ask me something about cooking. (I told my wife that for our next vacation I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been before. She suggested the kitchen.) Question: “Al, what makes for a good soufflé?” Answer: “Um, the bun?”

Consequently, I’ve set up rules for endorsing. One, the book has to be in or near to the genres I write. That means suspense, supernatural suspense, or suspense mystery. I can and will do Sci Fi, but not fantasy. I don’t understand fantasy. You have to be smart to understand fantasy. Crime fiction is close enough, straight mysteries are fun, and techno fiction is right up my alley.
The second rule is that I must have the right to decline endorsing. Sometimes the book just doesn’t cut it and to endorse would require lying. There have been a few I’ve had to walk away from. There have also been some I’ve been privileged to read and have taken great satisfaction that I’ve read the work before the rest of the world has.

There’s a flip side to this. As an author, I too need endorsements. Recently, I sent out copies of Crime Scene Jerusalem and was blessed to receive endorsements from Terri Blackstock, Randy Alcorn, and Jack Cavanaugh. Jerry Jenkins carried the manuscript all over the country but never managed enough free time to read it before the endorsement deadline. (I think I know Jerry well enough to know he wasn’t lying to spare my feelings. If he had read the book and didn’t like it, I’m certain he would have given it a Martha-outside-the-tomb-of-Lazarus review, “Lord, it stinketh.”) I sent the book to T. Davis Bunn who was in England at the time. It came back three times. Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security considered the book a bomb before it hit the shelves. Usually that doesn’t happen until Publisher’s Weekly has taken a couple of swipes at it.

I enjoy being asked to endorse books but can only do a certain number a year. Truth is, my endorsement won’t sell any books. I doubt that endorsements do much to move book from shelf to cash register, but they can’t hurt.

Al “I’ll take a good endorsement from anyone” Gansky blogs at http://altongansky.typepad.com/.

9 Comments:

At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Michael Ehret said...

Ah, my first smile for the day. Thanks!

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Carol Umberger said...

"Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security considered the book a bomb before it hit the shelves. Usually that doesn’t happen until Publisher’s Weekly has taken a couple of swipes at it."

I hope I can stop laughing long enough to figure out how to post this. :)

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Heather said...

funny post!

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Like Carol said, you cracked me up. Thanks for a good laugh.

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous John Robinson said...

Al, you had me laughing on that one! Since all three of my books are as dead as Julius Caesar, I haven't yet been asked to endorse anything. But it sounds like a treat.

 
At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al, you are a hoot! I'd endorse your writing anytime! Let me say though, as an avid reader of Charis authors, I do pay attention to the endorsements on a book's cover. If I see that one of my favorite authors liked the book, I figure I'll like it too. See, you guys have more influence than you think!

 
At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Alton Gansky said...

Oh, sure, sign your comment as "anonymous" then offer to endorse one of my books. Clever.

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about that, Al. I'm in the Endorsement Protection Program!:-) Trust me when I say my endorsement would NOT sell any books for anybody. But, hey, it's the thought that counts!

 
At 1:01 AM, Blogger Peg Phifer said...

I have tried and failed to post comments here. Who knows why? Now there's a mystery for you.

Al, this was a delightful post!

Peg Phifer

 

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