The recommendation is ultimate currency. Sales at movie theaters, restaurants, hair salons and bookstores are all driven by one person telling another about something. The recommendation might be “Wow, doesn’t that look cool?” or “Oh my god, you have to try/see/read this?”
Book publishers can help people who want to recommend their books. The best thing a book publisher can be is clear—be as clear as possible about the topic of the book, what’s interesting about the book, and what the reader will get from reading the book. The combination of those answers should exist on the front cover and back cover, on the inside jacket copy and in the opening pages.
Before you publish your book, ask early readers what they would say if they recommended the book to someone else? Pay close attention to both the words they use and the order in which they share the details. Note how well it matches the marketing copy you have written. Change as needed.
Being remarkable just means making something people want to talk about.
Endorsements are a specific kind of recommendation that authors seek out to print on the book or in the book. Foremost, the reader needs to be able to recognize the person endorsing the book. The employer of the endorser can be a secondary point of connection. Second, a clever use of endorsers can further help the reader triangulate if the book is right for them. A group of CEO endorsers signals a book for business leaders. Innovators signal a book about change. Readers want to see endorsements from people they trust and identify with.
Don’t use a foreword in your book. I know they are popular, especially in non-fiction. What you are really getting is someone more well known to write a long endorsement and you are putting that endorsement in the front of your book. Is that the first thing you want readers to read? As a publisher, I feel strongly that the first words the reader sees should be from the author. Just ask for an endorsement and feature it prominently.
Most things have a common set of factors. For a book, it has a topic, title, trim size, timing, structure, word count, voice, design, author’s reputation, and marketplace competition. A good recipe for drawing attention is to make an interesting change to one factor and make that the focus of your campaign to generate conversation. You are automatically giving someone something to talk about.
Timing matters. A concentrated set of reviews in a small window is worth more than ten times that many over the long term. You need a burst of momentum to get above all of the conversational clutter of everyday life.
If people are having a hard time talking about your book, you probably have a bigger problem with the book that you need to solve. Circle back to clarity, unexpectedness, and utility to see what might be missing. People need good anchor points to make a good recommendation.
Find and send books to people who have already tried to solve the problem and still haven’t found a good solution. At the start, they will be the most receptive audience you can find and most likely to share it far and wide, when it works for them.
When you send people books, send two copies – one for them and another for a friend. If you made a great book and you sent it to the right person, they will know exactly who to give that second copy to.
When people talk about the things they love, they don’t talk about the thing; they talk about how much better their lives have become. How does your thing make their life better?