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John Kremer’s Book Marketing Update

This month: How To Get More High Profile 'Blurbs' for Your Books
Celebrity praise helped one first-time author sell 30,000 books

From Book Marketing Update.

How would you like browsers to pick up a copy of your book in a bookstore and see recommendations from top names in show business, respected authorities and writers, trusted TV commentators or top sports figures? Think praise like that would sway an undecided browser, perhaps pushing them to buy your book? They will. Especially if you're not a household name, celebrity testimonials, or "blurbs," can be one the best tools to help you sell your books. Most authors don't go after more than one or two testimonials, if they go after any at all. But if the experience of other writers is any indication, if you've written a good book, endorsements can be had. All it takes is a little legwork and a lot of patience.

One author who proves it can be done is Jacqueline Marcell. A first-time author, Marcell worked for eight months lining up celebrity quotes for her book, Elder Rage. As a result, she secured more than 44 testimonials and credits those recommendations with helping her sell more than 30,000 copies of her book.

Here's how to get, and use, celebrity blurbs for your own books.

* Match your book with the proper celeb. You'll have much better luck if you can find celebrities who have a vested interest in what you're writing about. Many celebrities are active in social causes, and others have had personal experiences that may make them more open to the possibility of mentioning your book to others. A good start is to read "the trades" such as Daily Variety or watch shows such as Entertainment Tonight to keep up with what celebrities are doing, the causes they're supporting and the issues that matter to them.

* Research. There are simply no shortcuts here. To find contact information for big-name celebrities can, as you might imagine, be hard. Thankfully, there are a number of resources (see the list below) you can turn to that will make your search easier. In addition to those listed, research librarians can also be instrumental in helping you find publications that might prove useful.

* Be persistent and bypass gatekeepers (if you can). Once you have the contact information, your work has really just begun. Like Jacquelyn Marcell, Peggy Sansevieri has sometimes worked for eight months before securing an endorsement. Sansevieri not only finds endorsements for herself, she's also a consultant who helps other authors find blurbs as well. One difficulty she often encounters is that the initial contact <\!> perhaps an agent or manager -- never delivers your request to the celebrity. When she went after Jerry Lewis for an endorsement, she found herself sifting through layer upon layer of support people before finally finding the right contact. Be prepared to wait several months for the biggest names to get back to you -- even if it's just to say 'no.'

* Make it easy as possible for your targets. When you do finally break through and the celebrity asks to take a look at your work, be sure to send everything that might be helpful -- a copy of your book plus a complete press kit. Most importantly, include some sample quotes that they can simply choose from and fax back to you. "Do as much of the work for them as you can," says Sansevieri.

* Recommend blurbs that will have the greatest impact. Including samples that celebrities can choose from gives you another advantage -- it allows you to draft exactly those words that will work best. In his special report, Blurbs for Your Books, Dan Poynter gives some tips on what makes a good endorsement. Here are two of the most important things to keep in mind. The first is length -- your blurbs shouldn't be longer than three sentences since most people won't read more than that. Second, they need to be specific. Avoid general quotes like, "I loved this book." Instead, focus on results. For example, "This is the best book to read if you want to save money when buying a new car" is much better than a generic blurb like the one above.

Resources for finding your own celebrity blurbs

* Screen Actor's Guild (SAG): Probably the best place to start if you're in search of movie or TV stars. You can only ask for the names and addresses of three contacts in any single phone call. Penny Sansevieri reports that she was allowed to hang up and call right back, so it's not as time consuming as it may sound. Reach SAG at 213-954-1600, or via the Web at www.sag.org.

* Dan Poynter's special report, Blurbs for Your Books: Testimonials, Endorsements and Quotations: Dan's five-page report includes listings of several more publications that can help you locate hard-to-find celebrities, plus tips and tricks on making the process go smoothly. Visit www.parapub.com to order a downloadable PDF version of the report for $6.95. A hard-copy version is available for $4 more. From the site, find Document 609 and follow the ordering instructions.

* Celebrity Directory: Thousands of names and addresses that could save you the trouble of going through SAG. Axiom Information Resources, PO Box 8015, Ann Arbor, MI 48107; 734-761-4842; www.celebritylocator.com.

* Deluxe Celebrity Address List: Another directory with thousands of celebrities and their contact information. This company will even do some research for you if a name and address is missing from the directory. Check it out at www.celebrity-addresses.com, or contact them offline at Celebrity Addresses Online, 8721 Santa Monica Blvd., #431, Hollywood, CA 90069.

* Book Marketing Update, Issue # 154: In this issue from March 15, 2001, John Kremer discusses Jacquelyn Marcell's success and methods in more detail. He also includes an extensive list of the testimonials she received, and explains the good and bad points of each one. The story begins on page 6 of issue #154.

Thanks to Dan Poynter (www.parapub.com) and Jacqueline Marcell (www.elderrage.com) for helping out with this story. If you'd like more information about Penny Sansevieri and her services, visit www.booksbypen.com.


This article is from a recent issue of John Kremer's Book Marketing Update newsletter, a twice-monthly publication that reports on book publicity and sales opportunities, as well as case histories of successful book promotion campaigns. To get a trial subscription to the newsletter, along with a transcript of their recent telephone seminar, "What Bestselling Authors Do Differently," go to http://www.freepublicity.com.