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Friday, May 8, 2009

Killer Campaign: Author Quotes

Do author quotes work? It might, if the right author plugged your work.

I have to admit author quotes do nothing for me. But I am obscenely jaded. And I've heard too many stories of famous people giving glowing remarks even if they never laid eyes on the book in question.

But let's assume you have a respected and admired author willing to say nice things about you. How would you go about asking them for a quote? How do you choose which author to ask?

I've had the privilege of interviewing quite a few famous authors in the SFF community. In the early days, my inexperience at interviewing made me feel a little uncomfortable, but I have two advantages that have worked well for me.

#1 I've been in the corporate world a long time. I'm used to dealing with professionals at all levels of success. Also, I entered management at a fairly young age and had to deal with subordinates much older than myself. I'm comfortable in my skin.

#2 I'm old. Famous people don't make me nervous. And if they're my age, we actually become peers in the restricted club of old timers.

So my biggest tip to you is a simple one.

We're all people. And we are surprisingly more alike than different. No matter how famous someone is, chances are s/he knows what it's like to have a toddler get sick on his shoe. He knows about forgetting to set the clock, dreads edits and deadlines, and worries how well his next book will sell.

I'd like to think that most famous people also understand kindness and karma.

When you find an author whom you think would be perfect as a spokesman for your book, be polite and treat them the way you would like to be treated.

When contacting your prospective author for a quote:

• Respect their privacy. Use only legitimate, publicly known addresses or their PR person.

• Introduce yourself succinctly. They don't need to know that you have three kids and a box turtle.

• Don't fawn. You are peers, even if he is a superstar. Treat yourself with respect the same way you respect him.

• Be clear about what you want. If you want a quote, ask for one. Don't waffle.

• Keep your letter short.

• Enclose your book or chapters.

• Give them enough time to reply.

• Be sure to supply the timeline of when your book will be released and publisher name. (If you share the same publisher, it might give you an edge.)

• Thank him and close with a tight ending.

How to pick the right author to quote your book:
• Choose someone in your genre

• Be aware of their reputations. If they're known to be jerks to their public (yes, we can all name a few of those), stay away from them. We are judged by the company we keep.

• Look for authors who are approachable. The chances of getting JK Rowling to say nice things about you are slim, unless you went to school with her.

•This is going to sound terribly elitist, but if you are going to get a quote, vie for those with clout. The quote has to do a job. It won't work if you get someone who is still scratching his way to the top.

Use an author quote if it becomes available but don't rely on it. Treat it like a cherry on a sundae. It makes a nice presentation, but it's the ice cream that counts.

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Find it on Amazon.


darkened_jade said...

Great advice and very straight forward.

Jannette Johnson said...

I've heard about authors giving blurbs to biooks they've never read before, I've also heard a few times of well-known authors giving rave reviews to novels that aren't worth the paper their printed on.

I don't think it's the author's fault, from what I understand, they were told by agent/publisher to do this, or risk some kind of retrobution. I don't agree with the 'you wash my back, I'll wash your's', but then, I'm not published so I really can't say much about it.

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, darkened_jade.

Maria Zannini said...

Very true, Jannette. Sometimes the mandate does come from somewhere else, but then I still believe each of us is responsible for our own actions.

I don't know that I could endorse something I've never read.

J.K. Coi said...

This is a timely post! I've been thinking of asking a particular author for a quote, but I'm not sure what the protocol is for approaching someone with this kind of a request. What would you suggest?

Maria Zannini said...

Just be yourself. Tell the author why you think her opinion matters and if she'd be interested in reading your book.

Good luck, JK.

catie said...

Thank you for the sound advice Marie. Requesting quotes is supra-mega intimidating, but you've presented a straight forward, professional plan that makes the prospect of (possibly) doing this a lot less daunting.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Catie!
I'll bet you wouldn't have any trouble at all approaching a famous author. You have a very relaxed and accessible online aura.