ARTICLE by Michael Hanrahan –  Founder of Publish Central.

This is a question I am asked often: how do I get a foreword or testimonials for my book from people I respect or admire in my industry? It feels like an awkward thing to ask, and one where you’re almost begging them to help. But it’s not really like that. In fact most people are very happy to offer a testimonial and it’s a major compliment to be asked to write a foreword.

There are a number of different ways you can approach this. The first step is usually a polite email or phone call to the person you are asking. Explain what your book is about, and say that you’d be most appreciative if they could make a contribution.

If they agree to write a foreword or testimonial for you, the next question is, what do you send them, and when? There are basically two stages in the publishing process when it’s convenient to send your book out: after the edit is complete, and after the layout is complete. After the edit is complete, you can email the Word file. Or, after the layout is complete, you can email a PDF. I prefer to wait until the layout is complete, because then your book actually looks like a book!

Here are some tips:

  • If you’re on a tight deadline, it’s better to send the book after the edit is complete. This gives you more time to obtain the foreword/testimonials.
  • Always let people know that your book is still a work in progress, so that they’re not alarmed if they find typos.
  • There is usually no payment involved, but it is customary to send the person a copy of the book when it’s published (and maybe a bottle of wine if they’ve spent substantial time on a foreword).
  • Make sure you confirm all details with them, such as if you are planning to use their name or testimonial on the cover.
  • Tell them what your aims are for the book, how many copies you will be printing and where it will be available. Get their agreement to all of this in writing. You don’t want any surprises later.
  • If you want to make any changes at all to the foreword/testimonials, make sure you get the person’s agreement.
  • And last but not least, don’t be afraid of asking anyone for a testimonial or a foreword. The worst they can do is say no. But what if they say yes?

There’s no doubt that a credible testimonial or foreword can really be powerful to help build your credibility when it comes to writing a book, especially for new authors. Take the time, find the right people, ask them the right way and they are more than likely to say yes.

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