5 Tips on How to Get Big Name Book Endorsements

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Endorsements give your book credibility and can boost sales. They provide third-party validation that your book is worthwhile, and as a result they are so much more powerful than any publicity that comes directly from you.

Yet many writers are bashful about asking for them, or they ask the wrong people. Here’s how to make the most of the opportunity:

1. Think about endorsements at the proposal stage.

As a coach, I like to get the process going at the book proposal stage, even though doing so sometimes strikes fear in the writer’s heart. “How can I ask someone famous to endorse my book when I haven’t even written it yet?” they counter.

No problem. Just ask if they will agree to review your book for a possible endorsement, when it’s ready. That makes it easier to say yes, because they’re not committing to writing a positive blurb from now. And it gives your proposal more weight to have these commitments up front.

While writing my proposal for Will Write for Food I emailed cookbook author Deborah Madison (met her at the Greenbrier), restaurant reviewer Michael Bauer (I had interviewed him for my sample chapter on restaurant reviewing), and literary agent Lisa Ekus (I knew her professionally). I explained that I was writing the book and would be honored to include their names in the proposal as potential endorsers. I explained why I thought they were a good match for the book. All agreed.

Another kind of endorsement is the foreword. This is a larger commitment, where someone writes an essay inside the book, instead of a sentence or paragraph. Often publishers pay the writer a fee. A respected name, mentioned in the proposal, can impress agents and editors.

2. Pick the right names for the job.

I find that people sometimes go down the wrong path. They think of whom they admire, instead of who the reader admires, or people in their town who are not known nationally. They name obscure professors or writers of books that influenced them but are not on target for their own book.

Think about it this way: Who is an admired authority on the broad subject of your book, in the mind of the target reader? Not in your mind. If you’re lucky and you’re a good networker, you might already know these people, or you have a connection. If not, it’s just a matter of asking them.

For example, Craig Priebe, the chef with whom I co-wrote Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas, decided that restaurateur Wolfgang Puck was the ultimate authority on gourmet pizzas and that our target readers revere him. So Craig bugged his assistant (politely) for weeks until he got the endorsement. You can read it in the photo above, on the back of our book.

3. Tracking people down is easier than ever.

These days everyone who’s known (and you want that kind of person) has a website, a Twitter feed, or a Facebook page. They want to be found. Or maybe they’re members of an organization you belong to, which will make them even easier to find. Sometimes you can go through their book publisher or agent. Read their book’s acknowledgements to get the right names.

When you find them,state your case politely. Explain what your book is about and give them a timeline, if possible, so they know what to expect.

4. Make it easy for the endorsers to give you that blurb.

Once you have a book deal, your publisher will ask you to list names of potential endorsers. Make a long, ordered list. Some people won’t have time, some might be away, and some might decline, so you want at least eight or nine names.

When your manuscript gets to the galley stage (that’s when the book is bound but not published yet), the publisher will send it out for review to potential endorsers. Sometimes they send a PDF by email.

Some publishers help you find the contact information, and some don’t. You might have to supply it, and even manage the process. You may have to let people know when the galley or PDF is coming, and follow up to see if they have sent their blurb to the publisher. Keep on top of the process to ensure that you get the blurbs you want — and deserve.

5. Believe you have something to offer.

Savvy big names like to endorse books, because their name appears prominently, often with a title of their book, restaurant or sometimes even a website URL, on the front or back cover. It’s free marketing to their intended audience, if you chose correctly.

So if you’re worried that you have nothing to offer these big names, think again. Your book can be a billboard for their own publicity.

I know, firsthand, that all you have to do is get up the nerve. I emailed Anthony Bourdain to ask him to endorse Will Write for Food, and he did! My editor and publicist said they did a little dance. Aim high. You have nothing to lose.

Got a tip or a story about how you got a terrific blurb? I’d love to know.


  1. says

    I love these posts, Dianne. Seriously so chock full of GREAT info and things that no one would ever know unless they had been down this road, or was being spoonfed the info..so thank you for spoon feeding all of us!

    “Your book can be a billboard for their own publicity.” — I never thought of it that way, but you’re so right. Now when I see BIG names endorse some less famous or new-ish authors or new writers and their books, it makes perfect sense. The big name person is plastered all over the front of the new author’s book in a very prominent way, usually.

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Averie. An agent just RT’d my post on Twitter as “simple wisdom.” Um, is that a compliment? It must be the same as “spoonfed.” I’ll take it. Hey, if you’ve never been down this path before, how would you know what to do?

      Bourdain got the front of my book for 5 years. In 2011, for the second edition, he moved to the back and Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman got the front spot. It was a way to appeal to women, I suppose, and particularly — food bloggers, most of whom are women.

  2. says

    A wonderful post, as always Dianne. Thanks so much for these pearls of wisdom. I am thrilled to say that I just published my very first cookbook (a mini, focused 10-recipe e-cookbook, but still) and while my publisher is taking care of a lot of the publicity I am also trying to do as much as possible. So this is super helpful for me right now. It’s already published and I’m not necessarily looking for book jacket endorsements, but it does give me some added confidence to aim high and approach all kinds of people with my book. Also, this is great to keep in mind for what will hopefully be future cookbooks :-)

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Katherine. Congratulations on your e-book! But there is no print edition? Interesting. Who is your publisher?

      • says

        Thanks so much Dianne! There is no print edition – it’s purely an e-cookbook. The publisher is Hang Time Press, a recently launched new media publishing house. You can check them out here: http://hangtimepress.com/. I’m experimenting with various forms of media (I also have a “food tour” app being released in the spring) and we’ll see how they all go. I don’t think digital will ever fully replace print (which I’m happy about), but it’s definitely a growing market.

  3. says

    Dianne–Perfect timing as I’m working on a book proposal and was just thinking about this question! Thanks as always for being thoughtful and helpful.

  4. says

    Hi Dianne

    Perfectly timed. I turn in my cookbook copy next week and was just percolating this very issue. I never considered this from the perspective of the endorser who gets free publicity out of the deal. I also appreciate the nudge towards aiming high. Thank you.

  5. says

    So helpful. I’ve always wondered about this. Love this kind of “behind the scenes” information that you share. Thanks for taking the mystery out of it.

    • diannejacob says

      My pleasure, Rebecca. I’m working with two people right now who have to get blurbs, and they said the same thing — how would they ever know how to do it? It’s a mystery if you’ve never done it before.

  6. says

    Thank you Dianne! This is such a great resource and community.

    My food blog is 1 year old today (which is a nice feeling) and looking further down the track, I can see myself taking it further and writing a cookbook/memoir. The publishing world is totally foreign to me so will rely on your sound advice when I go through this process. I have a question – I am from Australia and looking to do an online writing course in food writing/magazine writing (with the goal of becoming a ‘food writer’ in my country.) There’s a limit to what’s available in Australia, would you recommend a great online food writing course that would be relevant to the Australian market? New York is my all time favourite city outside OZ so quite fancy the idea of something based there. I looked in your ‘Selected Websites’ section of you book but wanted to just check with you given the situation of my location.

    P.S. I am planning to undertake your blog advice as we discussed when I can. Will contact you.

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Johanna, congrats on getting to the 1-year mark. Gotham has a food writing class that looks intriguing, but to be honest I haven’t taken it so I can’t say for sure, and I don’t know how relevant it is to the Australian food writing market particularly.

  7. Kitty M says

    Dianne, are endorsements for an eBook becoming the norm?
    Do eBook blurbs carry the same weight as a print version? Do blurbs writers see the value in an eBook blurb, as they would in a hard copy version? I would love to know everyone’s take on this.

    • diannejacob says

      Very good question! Why not? I assume that if you advertise your e-book on your website, you’ll want endorsements for it. And I would say the endorsements carry the same weight as they do in print books — although since e-books are less expensive, they are not as necessary to lower the risk of purchasing an inferior product.

  8. says

    I love this, Dianne. I have reached high in the past for blurbs and have been heartened by the positive responses. Now you have inspired me to reach even higher on the next one. Thanks as always for your wisdom and encouragement!

    • diannejacob says

      Hey Jennie – you have done very well with your blurbs. Can’t wait to see whose name comes up on the next book.

  9. says

    Very timely — as a matter of fact Jennie told me to take a look when she saw my ecstatic FB post from Tokyo. I just asked Graham Kerr to write an endorsement thru someone and Graham said yes. You are so right, all you need is just get up and ask. I’ve been amazed how gracious people are with this. Do you have any tips for asking for a foreword? (I want Graham to write one for my new Kindle version). Thank you for your advice!

    • diannejacob says

      Congratulations, Mari! Wonderful news. Regarding a foreword, the same advice applies. Figure out who would be best and just ask.

  10. says

    This is very helpful indeed! This will really help people who want to endorse their new book, I have a friend who just finished her new book, your tips will be perfect for her!

  11. says

    Wow, this is wonderful advice. I’ve copied it and pasted it to my desktop for future reference.

    I happened on this page while looking for contact info for Anthony Bourdain. I am signed to write a book on urban foraging / cuisine and would love to contact him for a possible endorsement. If you’re comfortable, would you please share with me how you contacted him? Thanks so much. melanyrae62@yahoo.com

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Melany,

      Congrats on your book contract! A colleague who had asked him to write for her publication forwarded his email to me. I’m sorry to say that it has since bounced. I suggest you contact him through his publisher or on Twitter.

  12. says

    Hi Diane,
    I’m thrilled to report that I now have Graham Kerr’s endorsement in hand! So everyone, aim high! It’ possible.
    A question: do you have any advice on what credit or title I should use with his foreword? On what he gave me he wrote “A Grageful Kitchen Gardener” which means little to most people. For a new author like me, he adds a huge credibility to my book, so I want to do this right. I refer to your book, and some others, but couldn’t really figure it out. He has so much under his belt — “the Galloping Gourmet” of course (but younger ppl may not know the show), about 30 books under his belt, and awards after awards. What would you recommend? Thank you for your advice.

    • diannejacob says

      Congrats, Mari! I think most people will know him as the Galloping Gourmet and cookbook author, so I would go with that.

  13. Nick Abbate says

    Hey Diane,

    Awesome post on getting celebrity endorsements, I learned alot reading it. I have a diabetic cookbook completed an am trying to figure out who to ask to be a celebrity endoreser, I was thinking sending an email, which I already have. If I want to tweet to ask what should I put in that tweet or is it better to send an email? I was thinking about sending well known celebrities with diabetes, if I have to ask in a tweet, how should I do it? Thanks in advance.

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Nick. Thank you. If you have the person’s email, then you have more time to make a case for endorsing your book. If not, you can ask them on Twitter if they’re interested, and if so, then ask for their email. Good luck!

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