“A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.” – Fred Allen
One complimentary nod from a famous face can launch even the most obscure product. Most advertising agencies pay a high price to have a celebrity take a swig of their soft drink or wear a pair of their running shoes. The good news is that if you can get an endorsement for your book, it probably won’t cost you a thing, except time, patience, persistence, and oh, did I mention patience? It’s a long road that you should start down as soon as you have a reasonably final manuscript. Yet, however long it is, it can prove very profitable.
The first thing you have to remember when you’re trying to get a celebrity to endorse your book is that they’d be doing you a huge favor. Contact them in the way they wish to be contacted (mail, e-mail, or fax); follow their guidelines (or their agents’ guidelines) to the letter.
The Wish List
Who your chosen celebrities will be depends on your book. First of all, you’re going to want to contact those celebs who have a vested interest in your topic. That will greatly increase your chances of getting a response. They needn’t be the hottest big names. You might target a rad>Helersonality, a local standout, or an author.
When you’re putting together your list of desired endorsements, make it long to begin with–20 or so names. One by one, some of these celebs might fall off. “No interest” or “on location” are the two biggest reasons I encounter.
If your target is an actor, you’ll want to start by contacting The Screen Actors Guild to get current agent/publicist information. Call (323) 549-6737 if the celeb you’re looking for is LA-based. If not, head on over to www.sag.org for current contact information for the Guild’s New York office. A third option is logging on to www.whoRepresents.com, a site that will give you contact information for pretty much any celebrity in the United States.
If you’re trying to reach an author, your best bet will be to search for the author’s own Web site, determine who the publisher and/or agent is, and call them. Or try sending your request to The Author’s Guild (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Once you’ve gotten contact information for everyone on your list, get your package ready to send before you start calling. Some people will want to see a synopsis, outline, or press release. Whatever they ask for, make sure it’s ready to send off to them right away. The last thing you need is a delay in getting information out.
Your next step will be to call the contacts you have and pitch them. Be ready to “sell” your book and request for endorsement to anyone who answers the phone. That’s because there’s a good chance you’ll have to go through several gatekeepers. It’s a good idea to write down what you want to say but don’t read from the paper; it will sound too scripted if you do. Instead, list a few points you want to make. If you get someone interested, offer to send them an outline of the book, or the entire package if they’re willing to look at it.
Some contacts will tell you “no” right on the spot, but before you hang up make sure and qualify the “no.” Do they mean “not right now” or “never ever in this lifetime”?
If you’re asked to forward a synopsis of the book first, give them a few days to look at this information and then contact them again. At that time, you’ll either be asked to send a packet or told there is no further interest. If you are asked to send your packet, make sure it has a professional and appreciative cover letter on top. Remember, they don’t have to do this. The letter should note that you will forward a copy of the final book once it’s printed.
The other contents of your endorsement package should be nearly the same as the contents of a review kit–press release, book information, synopsis, and a copy of your book in its current form–but you’ll also want to include a list of “sample endorsements.” Your sample endorsements sheet should consist of three or four “glowing statements” the celeb can select from as well as a few blank lines in case they want to write an endorsement in their own words. You’ll also want to leave some space for them to sign and date this form (very important!). To make it as easy as possible for potential endorsers, I offer several options for returning this sheet to me. First, I include a self-addressed stamped envelope with the package. I also make sure my fax number is clearly marked on the endorsement sheet so they can sign it and fax it back. When I’m in a rush to get an endorsement, I’ll often include a prepaid FedEx envelope.
Once that package is sent, then it’s time to wait and wait and wait and then sometimes to resend them a package if someone can’t seem to locate it when you follow up. Also, be prepared to take an endorsement over the phone if necessary. Sometimes you get lucky and are able to reach your celeb live. When they tell you they loved the book, your next question to them should be “May I quote you?” and if they agree, type up their quote and send it to them for approval. Never, ever use anything without someone approving and signing it; you could get yourself into a lot of trouble.
Regardless of the effort or the length of time it takes to obtain this endorsement, remember that getting even one famous face to acknowledge your work is often enough to prompt an apprehensive buyer to give your book a second look–and that can make all the difference.
Penny C. Sansevieri is the author of “The Cliffhanger,” published in 2000. After a strategic marketing campaign, it quickly climbed the ranks at Amazon.com to the #1 best-selling book in San Diego. Her second book– “Get Published Today!”–was released in July 2002. Penny works with authors to help them market and promote their books. To learn more, visit www.booksbypen.com.