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I hear this question often–and it’s a good one. A foreword by a bestselling author can help catapult your book to success on Amazon because Amazon views that foreword writer as another author. When people search for the bestselling author who wrote your foreword, your book will come up in the search! Wow, right?
Recently, a writer in my Bring Your Book to Life® Program asked how she can approach the bestselling author of her choice to write her foreword.
Problem? She doesn’t know him. Isn’t part of his community. Yet.
You guessed it: Become part of his community first.
5. Is she doing a book signing or workshop? Go! If there’s a VIP version where you can join the author in a smaller group for lunch or mingling, splurge and go for the intimate event. Get in line for your signed copy of the book and, when it’s your turn, you can mention a way in which the author’s book made a difference for you. Follow that with the fact that you are writing a book of your own. Feel the author out, it may be appropriate to ask if the author would consider looking at a sample chapter or two and contributing a blurb. If you’ve done steps 1-3 you are much more likely to get a yes.
6. Reach out to your networks, friends and colleagues alike. Let everyone you know you are hoping for a blurb from this favorite author / celebrity / expert in your field. Ask who knows her. The more you spread the word, the more likely you are to find a connection who may be willing to introduce you.
7. Reach out by email. It’s fine to reach out by email, social media or a comment form on the author’s blog. However, do your legwork above first and you are far more likely to get a “yes.”
I first met Dr. Moyer years ago when she took a class of mine on jump starting your how-to book. Since then, we’ve stayed in touch. I’ve offered advice from time to time, shared her excellent environmental blog posts and enjoyed seeing her grow as a writer.
Now, Dr. Moyer is a published author and I am so enjoying her book Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to Thrive While Creating a Sustainable World which does an excellent job of making sustainability do-able and even enjoyable.
I was struck by what a great job she did in getting support as she launched the book. She has an excellent foreword by a bestselling author,7 blurbs by other bestselling authors and thought leaders in several fields from ecology to health to self-help. She also has over 30 reviews on Amazon (almost all 5 star) — a big plus in selling books and being shown to more people (because of Amazon’s algorithm).
I originally asked her for just a few points of advice for another article on book launch tips, but Ellen had so much excellent, detailed advice that I invited her to write a guest post for my readers on asking a bestselling author to write a foreword for your book, how to ask bestelling authors and celebrities for blurbs and how to get 5-star Amazon reviews.
Successfully launching my third book, Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to Thrive While Creating a Sustainable World, depended on enlisting about 45 people to read advance review copies and write about my book in time for launching the book on Amazon.
This resulted in 1 foreword, 7 endorsements, and about 20 Amazon customer reviews around launch time (with more trickling later). Owing to these contributions, Amazon quickly declared my book to be the #1 Hot New Release in three categories (Nature Conservation, Green Business, and Environmentalism), which helped build momentum.
I offer the following tips for obtaining forewords, including details I wish I had known ahead of time. (Some of these tips are also pertinent to obtaining endorsements from well-known people.) I encourage you to read Mark Hyman, M.D.’s foreword to my book on Amazon (click on the Kindle button at the top of the page and then click on “Look Inside” above the cover image.
Don’t misspell the word “foreword.”
You want to enlist luminaries in your field whose names your potential readers will know. It took many months and meeting the people face-to-face multiple times to build relationships to the point that they were willing to do this.
- These people are extremely busy and they get inundated with requests for help. I paid to attend their workshops and I talked with them at breaks. Be brief (no chit chat) and well-rehearsed with your succinct pitch. You may have two minutes to win them over.
- Show how your book is relevant to their work. I spent hours preparing a one-page table relating my book to Dr. Hyman’s work, which I showed and gave him.
Get help from their assistants. Their help is like gold. Luminaries get a flood of email, and your email is likely to go unnoticed. You may end up communicating directly with the assistant rather than the luminary. Or the assistant may advise you regarding the optimal time to email the foreword writer with your information and what you should put in the subject line to increase the chances of your email being noticed.
Ask two people to write forewords. If you get two, great. In my case, one of my foreword writers could not deliver in the timeframe I needed due to travel and other commitments at the time. So I was darned glad I had asked for two forewords.
If you approach multiple people, you could leave it a little open as to whether their contribution will be a preface or a foreword, saying this will be determined depending its length and content and the other front matter that comes together. It’s okay (though not common) to have two forewords. It’s more common to have a foreword and a preface, or one or the other. A preface is typically shorter than a foreword.
Ask them in advance how much time they’ll need and carefully work this into your book production schedule. Build in a week or two of slack time in case of lateness. Judiciously use gentle reminders, possibly working with their assistant. (Luckily for me, Dr. Hyman was ahead of schedule.)
Provide a well-polished first draft that the foreword writer can modify as they wish. That will save them time by giving them something to work with.
- Make it one that you’d like to include in the book as is, because while they will likely add their own remarks, it’s always possible the foreword writer will say it needs little or no changes and to run with it.
- This approach has several advantages: the foreword is more likely to be the way you want it, it is more likely to be done on time, and the luminary may appreciate your efforts.
As for content:
- Make it engaging and conversational so people will read it.
- Make it short, maybe 600 to 800 words, again so people will read it. A preface could be maybe half that.
- Start with a “hook,” such as a brief anecdote, that draws readers in. Possibly refer back to this hook at the end of the foreword.
- Consider indicating how you know each other.
- Early on, summarize the icon’s qualifications to wow potential readers who don’t already know the person.
- Have it say how great and well qualified you are, without going over the top.
- Have it say how the book benefitted the foreword writer.
Make sure to put “Foreword by _____” on the front cover.
Send (via Priority Mail or better) the foreword writer a signed copy of the final print book and thank you card. Say you hope to return the favor sometime and invite him/her to get in touch if there is anything you can do for him/her.
For the launch, invite the foreword writer to share about the book on social media or to their email list. Don’t word it such that you are asking them to do you yet another big favor after they just did you a big favor. Indicate that since you share common interests and goals, it occurred to you that their community may be interested to know about your book.
Provide draft tweets and brief shares they could use or modify, which include the image of your book cover and/or link to your book.
You might include brief quotes from their foreword. They are more likely to share on social media or via a brief blurb in a newsletter rather than send a stand-alone email their list, because they need to be judicious in sending promotional emails to their list.
You could include a draft stand-alone email if you think they might be inclined to send it to their list. One approach may be to let their assistant know a week in advance that you’ll be sending these drafts, and then send them the drafts a day or two before the launch date.
Be sure to let them know the ideal date for sharing. Ask them to share on that date or as soon as possible thereafter.
If the foreword writer says, “yes,” ask for the best way to follow up. Is it okay to contact her directly or is there contact info for her assistant?
You can read here about How to Write a Foreword.
And this post offers more about the benefits of a celebrity or bestselling author foreword, as well as how to decide whom to ask for your foreword.
Have questions about foreword, blurbs, endorsements, Amazon Reviews or book launches for Ellen or me? Ask away! And please share this post on social media. Thanks.