How to Get Testimonials for Your Self-Published Book

Think about the last time you were in a bookstore. A title grabbed you; you took the book from the shelf and looked at the cover. It invited you to peruse the book a little deeper. As you flipped though it you concluded that this book was interesting and you wanted it. But should you spend the money on it? Then you see it–that testimonial from a person you respect, and it reinforces your decision to buy the book. The testimonial closed the sale.

What is a Testimonial?

Testimonials, also known as “blurbs,” are one of the most powerful book marketing tools available to self-published authors. Testimonials are used on book covers, in the front matter and in advertising. Testimonials from the right people up in the influence more than book buyers–they also influence book reviewers, bookstore owners, distributors and agents.

Getting great testimonials should be as much a part of your book marketing strategy as any other part of your plan. You want to get testimonials from people who have credibility. I was working with an author who came up with a list of people that would not help sell the books at all–they were obscure people from unknown websites, and that kind of marketing will not help you. It is more important that you have two or three well-known people than dozens of unknowns commenting about the value of your book.

One of the best blurbs I ever saw was one my friend Dan Wooding got from his friend Dallas Kinney, a Pulitzer Prize winner. You can read the testimonial here. The blurb comes from a reliable source and it encapsulates the soul of the book. That is the sort of thing you’re seeking.

The Purpose of Testimonials

It’s your goal to get testimonials that motivate people to buy your book. A testimonial should include a benefit of reading your book, or emotional appeal or some call to action.

How do you go about getting these testimonials? You must not be afraid to ask strangers to help you. You need to have enough confidence in your book to be willing to send it to people who have the credibility you need, and whom you may admire. So, the first thing you need to do is create a list of people who you feel will be appropriate considering the content of your book. If your Christian book is about the power of the Holy Spirit, then you want notable pastors and theologians to write blurbs. If your book is business-oriented, you want to find Christian business leaders to offer testimonials.

The Way to Get Testimonials

What is the best approach to get them? Send a galley of your book to each person on your list. The package should contain a cover letter with a polite request for the testimonial and a form. The magic of getting a testimonial is in the form that you include.

The form has two written testimonials and a blank space for the person to write their own. The heading on the form says, “Select one of these, adapt them or create something entirely new.” That enables a busy person to either go with one of the testimonials you have prewritten or write one themselves. The two written testimonials should be different for each person you send the form to.

Is it presumptuous to write those two testimonials for your own book, one that a person would be willing to attach their name? Not at all. Focus on one particular aspect of your book for each testimonial writer and this methodology enables you to get that focus. Most testimonial writers are happy to use what you have written or rewrite it in a way that pleases them. Either way you come out a winner.

There are two caveats for getting great testimonials. First, you must send out a dozen or more in order to get five or six testimonials you can use. Also, you must send them out early — many will want time to read your book and they won’t reply at all if you are expecting to hear from them in a week. Set a deadline for returning the testimonial in your cover letter, a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks after the person receives the galley.

3 Responses

  1. Ola says:

    Thank you.

  2. Ola says:

    Donald, I find this to be very useful especially as I’m writing my first Christian book. I have a question on how to go about this. Do I excerpt few chapters and send to the people I’m seeking testimonials from or I have to send the entire book?

    Thanks

    Ola

    • Donald L. Hughes says:

      It is best to send the entire manuscript. I suggest that you send in by email in PDF format. Don’t send a Word file. Mark the PDF in a dozen places, including the front cover, with the words “Unedited Proof for Review Only.”

      If your book is in galley (proof) form, photocopy that if you can and send it by regular mail. Many reviewers prefer to get a book in hard copy form.

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