Friday, June 15, 2007

KB: Endorsing Manuscripts?

There’s an interesting trend on the rise lately, and I’m not quite sure where it started or why it’s gaining such momentum. Published authors are being inundated with requests from unpublished authors to read their manuscripts and possibly offer a review or endorsement that they can send to publishers with their proposal.

I’m curious. Who thought this was a good idea?

As an acquisitions editor, I can tell you that the only review or endorsement that would have an impact on me would be one from a published author who actually knew the author. Or from an author I know and trust. But bottom line, that’s not something I look for in a proposal. Doesn’t really matter to me if such things are included or not. What does matters is the writing, not what someone else says about a manuscript.

Now don’t get me wrong. Published authors in the CBA want to help unpublished authors. Which is why so many of us take part in writers’ conferences, giving our time to teach, critique, and mentor. But there’s no way we can take the time to read all the unpublished manuscripts we’re being asked to read. Many authors (including yours truly) have made it a policy to turn down these kinds of requests simply because we know it doesn't really help. Which means it's not a good use of your time or ours.

So what can you do to ensure your manuscript has the best chance of being acquired? Have it professionally critiqued or edited. Go to a writer's conference and take one of the mentoring classes to refine your craftsmanship. Take the time to revise, revise, revise. (Say it with me: “Send no proposal out before its time…”) Once you've done these things--once you're certain the writing is as strong as you can make it--then send it off to publishers. And don’t worry about endorsements or reviews from published authors. Because there's just no substitute for a powerfully written story that grabs the reader from the very first page, holds interest throughout, and delivers on the promise of a great story that enlightens and entertains.

That’s what will bring you a contract, friends.

God bless.

Karen Ball


At 8:09 AM, Blogger Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Thanks for the excellent advice, doubly valuable since it comes from someone familiar with the issue from both sides of the fence.

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you read my manuscript and give me an endorsement? Just kidding.
Great blog. Insightful and motivating. Thank you.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Cindy Swanson said...

I'm not a published writer, but I regularly do author interviews and book reviews, both on the radio and in my blog.

I've also noticed the trend of books being endorsed by published writers. I've offered my services to endorse books, and my endorsements have appeared on a few.

I feel it's good to occasinally include the opinion of someone other than an author. You know, someone who is just a passionate reader! :)

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have bought books because of endorsements on the cover by an author whose work I know and trust ...

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Dayle James Arceneaux said...

I wish I could cite the specific editor's/agent's/speaker's for you, but more than one source at the CWG conference encouraged the practice.

I had no intention of doing it - I Didn't want to put anyone on the spot. But, without my asking, one author (after a partial read) actually offered to consider an endorsement upon full manuscript read, so I put it in the proposal. I figured it couldn't hurt.

At 8:48 PM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

Thanks for this post, Karen. I was thinking about this subject today.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger T. Forkner said...

Thanks Karen. It's worrisome enough when the time comes for authors to find endorsers for a book already contracted.

To be required to find an endorser for a work that is not even contracted seems like too much pressure for an aspiring author and also for those being asked to endorse the work.

If it happened accidentally, like in dayle's comment, that's one thing, but I would encourage writers to bypass the practice on the most part. Karen's advice is certainly expert in this area, folks. Just think, one more stressful thing you could cross off your list!!!

Happy Writing!!!!

At 5:55 PM, Blogger Karen B. said...

Hey, all.

Rita, you crack me up! Accidental Poet, absolutely, endorsements help PUBLISHED titles. But that's not what we're talking about here. What I'm referring to is the growing practice of unpublished authors trying to find published novelists who will read and endorse their proposals, before any contract has been issued. And that's what I think is both premature and counter-productive.

Cindy, I do think getting endorsements for a published book from readers is a great idea. A number of the publishers I've worked for have agreed to include pages such as "What readers are saying" for that very thing.

And Dayle, you're right, if someone offers an endorsement, go for it. As you said, it can't hurt.

Thanks for the dialog!


At 3:18 AM, Blogger Christina Tarabochia said...

Karen, what do you think about endorsements of the author? If I have published authors who are willing to say great things about me or my writing style/voice, would an editor want to see those kind of comments in a proposal?

At 11:08 PM, Blogger ElizabethMThompson said...


Thanks for the insights. I prepared my proposal with a list of potential endorsers for the book and wondered if it would really make any difference. I am not a personal friend of anyone with major name recognition, though I have several well-known acquaintences that I would break out in hives if I had to ask them for an endorsement. (I am willing to risk the hives if need be :)


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