Here I am, back in real time!
I'm so glad to be here: it was fun to tell the story of my writing journey, but I would also like to tell you what's happening right now.
This past week, I had to start asking for author endorsements.
Endorsements are the blurbs you see on back covers, telling you that this book is the best thing since Harry Potter.
Why ask for endorsements so soon, a year before the book's release?
It all has to do with printing dates. Publishing houses have deadlines that may seem odd to those who don't know how a book is made, but those deadlines make more sense after you know about galleys, proofs, sales, and marketing. Fortunately, I don't have to finalize my list for a while. This is just my preliminary endorsement list.
Endorsements don't do much good if they come from random readers. Everybody suspects that if I get an endorsement from Jane Q. Public who happens to be my best friend, she will say that the novel is life-changing and jaw-droppingly good. (I'd like to see how a reader looks while reading a jaw-droppingly good novel.)
I should note that my few best friends are very honest, and none of them would say something she did not believe, not even to help me sell my book. That integrity is why they're my best friends. But I'm sure you get my general point. A contemporary audience weary of hyperbole doesn't take much notice of endorsements unless they come from sources with high credibility.
In my genre, sources with high credibility include well-known writers of inspirational historicals, and leaders at very large churches. (No, I'm afraid I do not know Rick Warren. Or the pope.)
I have friends--or friends of friends--who hold leadership positions at two large churches. Both of these people have kindly agreed to go on my endorsement list.
The trickier part, as a debut author, is finding established writers who are willing to endorse your work.
Here's why. All professional writers know that one of the greatest challenges in the writing life is protecting your writing time.
It's all too easy to be pulled away by a need that seems urgent, or a child's activity, or even just a friend who needs help with HER activity for the day.
But you can only do so many services for others before you start to lose your writing time altogether.
Well-known authors are besieged by endorsement requests. To give an endorsement, one must at least speed-read the novel, and most prefer to really read it. Imagine that. :-)
If these well-known authors agreed to every endorsement request they received, they would have no time to write or to read anything else.
So it's a little awkward for me to ask for endorsements, knowing the pressures these authors face.
I am very grateful that two established, talented authors have agreed to endorse my novel. Three have said no. But I absolutely understand.
This is a business, for all of us. One can't take it personally if a well-known author can't endorse your work, for sheer lack of time. I am very pleased that all three of these authors sent me gracious notes explaining that they just don't have the time at the moment. (One even said she wanted me to contact her for the next novel, which was uber-gracious.)
In business, one must sometimes ask for things that may seem embarrassing, especially to those of us who are not accustomed to asking casual acquaintances for favors. I grew up in a family that believed "pressuring" people to do you a favor was bad manners. But asking is not pressuring.
My husband, an excellent salesman, has shown me by example how to have more confidence. He has led me to understand that asking is not wrong. Similarly, saying no to a professional request is not wrong.
Some of you may be more comfortable with these things than I am. If so, more power to you! But for me and others like me, I think there's a larger lesson in this endorsement dilemma.
It's not easy to occupy the "weak" or vulnerable position in any relationship. But if or when we really grow up, past adolescence, we understand that only the strongest people are able to choose to be vulnerable.
Asking for help is a test of emotional strength, because it requires humility, trust, and acceptance.
Are you willing to ask for help? Or is it too scary?