Guidelines for Requesting an Endorsement

If you are an author, editor or publisher seeking to have your book endorsed, please read this page before sending your request. You can make your request using the form below. Thank you.

One of the great joys of writing a book is the process of sharing the finished manuscript with other authors, and soliciting their “blurbs” or endorsements, to be printed on the back cover or inside front pages of the book. Over the years I have been privileged to receive endorsements from a number of authors I truly admire — authors whose work I read and cherish — which has given me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and gratitude.

None of these endorsers received a penny for their blurbs. They did it out of the goodness of their hearts and/or their belief in my work.

What readers don’t see: not every author we’ve asked to endorse one of my books has done so. Usually this is simply because they are too busy. But since endorsing a book is a courtesy one author does for another, it’s only natural that sometimes, an author can’t or won’t provide a blurb.

Shortly after my first book was published, I began to receive requests to endorse books by other authors. I’m always honored when I’m asked to read another writer’s work and offer my thoughts on it, that the publisher might choose to print on the book’s cover.

Over time, however, the requests keep coming, and I find that now I’m the one who often has to say “no,” usually because I don’t have time to read the manuscript.

I know at least one author (much more famous than I am) who has a blanket policy not to read books or endorse them. On the other hand, I also know at least two authors (again, more  famous) who are willing to blurb a book after merely scanning the manuscript. I don’t mean to criticize either of these approaches — to each their own. But I take a middle course.

I like to endorse books — but I only endorse books I actually read; and because of my schedule, I have limited time to read manuscripts. And I do not automatically endorse every manuscript I read. Therefore, I’ve set up a few personal policies about endorsing that I want you to know about.

  • I only endorse books that are scheduled to be published in the near future. Sometimes authors want my endorsement to go into their book proposal — but I think that’s too early for a book to get endorsed. You might make major changes to your manuscript before you publish it (or get it published), and that would make my endorsement obsolete. So my policy is only to read a manuscript after it has been fully edited — and I prefer a book that has already been typeset, so I can see what the final layout looks like.1It’s okay if it hasn’t been proofread yet — it’s customary for endorsements to be collected while the proofreading process is happening.
  • Endorsement Requests Should Come from Your Editor, Publicist, or the Book’s Production Manager. I know that some publishers expect their authors to do all the legwork gathering endorsements. Indeed, you should be engaged in this process but they should be the ones to make the actual request. They are in a better position to tell me what date they need the endorsement. If you are an author and you want to make an initial inquiry to see if I’m available, that’s fine — but then I want to hear from someone involved in the book’s production before I’ll agree to read the book.
  • If you are self-publishing, I still want to hear from your editor. I’ve read some wonderful self-published books over the years — but I’ve also read some truly awful ones. If your book has not been professionally edited, I’m sorry, but I cannot endorse it. Keep in mind: a badly written or unedited book reflects poorly on you, the author. I know it’s expensive to hire an editor, but you will be glad you did when you see how much your book improves. This applies even if you are already an accomplished writer. Be humble, and submit your work to someone who will make it shine — and after it is edited and the layout is complete, then seek your endorsements.
  • If my schedule permits and I agree to do so, I am willing to read your book for a possible endorsement — but I’m not your editor. Sometimes authors ask me for “feedback.” That sounds like they are looking for editorial guidance. I do a limited amount of work as an editor, so if you want an editor, we can talk, but that’s a paid professional service. It’s impolite to ask a doctor or a lawyer for free medical or legal advice; the same principle applies to writers/editors. Since I only endorse books that have already been edited, it’s irrelevant for me to offer you editorial feedback. I’m either going to endorse the book or say I’m sorry but I can’t/won’t. That’s all the feedback I can offer you.
  • Please keep in mind that there are many reasons why I (or any author) might not endorse your book. The most common reason, by far, is that I simply do not have time to read your manuscript. I only endorse books that I actually read, so if my schedule does not permit it, I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. On occasion, I have also chosen not to endorse a book because I disagree with some or all of its message, and/or I find it poorly written or edited. In writing, like in politics, sometimes good people disagree. I will not tell you why I decline to endorse your book — I don’t want to hurt your feelings or get into an argument about your content or style. That’s between you and your editor.
  • Getting aggressive, pushy, or angry with me does not help you get an endorsement. In fact, it usually has the opposite effect: it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Please be polite and respectful of my time, and I will be polite in return. We are both professionals here. Just remember: no means no. Thank you for understanding.

So, here’s the process:

  1. Make an initial contact with me using the form below. While I prefer hearing from someone at the publisher, it’s okay for the author to make this initial contact. Please describe the book briefly, tell me the publication date and publisher name, and the date you will need the endorsement. Since I read every book I might endorse, I will need at least four weeks (longer if your book is over 200 pages). I will reply as soon as I can and let you know whether or not I am willing to look at the manuscript.
  2. If I say I’m willing to look at it, the publisher, designer or editor should provide the edited and typeset manuscript in PDF format. Since I travel frequently, it’s easier for me to read an electronic version of the book. Like all publishing professionals, I will keep your manuscript confidential and secure.
  3. Please do not nag me, although it’s good to send me a reminder a week before deadline. Generally speaking, if I will endorse your book I’ll get it to you and your editor/publicist as soon as possible, but if my schedule gets crazy a gentle nudge is helpful.
  4. If I choose not to endorse your book, I will try to let you know, but don’t get your feelings hurt if there’s radio silenceEspecially if I’m traveling or facing my own deadline, sometimes things fall through the cracks. Please don’t take it personally.
  5. You are free to edit/shorten my endorsement, but I would appreciate you letting me know if you do. I’m not a diva, but I know that editing even a short blurb can sometimes change its meaning. It’s a courtesy to let me know what you plan to publish with my name attached; if I have any concerns I’ll let you know ASAP.
  6. If you use my endorsement, please send me a hard copy of the published book. Recently I was at a monastery leading a retreat, and in the library I happened across a book I had read — and endorsed — in manuscript form. Sure enough, my endorsement was prominently printed on the back — but the publisher had never bothered to send me a courtesy copy. No one expects to be paid for an endorsement, but  since I liked your book enough to give it a blurb, naturally I want to have it in my library.

Whether or not I ultimately endorse your book: good luck with it! And thank you for thinking of me — even if I decline your request, I still appreciate the consideration.


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