A friend of mine is writing a book, more on that in the coming months, and she asked for my thoughts on endorsements. The publisher had asked for between 10-20 endorsements and she had to chose the people and ask them for the endorsement. My friend asked for my advice and it got me thinking, so here we are. Endorsements are either completely overlooked and ignored or they’re overrated and treated like a must in every book. I don’t think that either is particularly helpful.
First of all, everything that follows is my opinion as a reader. I don’t work for a publisher, I have no skin in the game on this one. However, having read loads of books over the years I’ve seen quite a few endorsements and written a couple myself.
Endorsements, let me give you a positive and a negative.
Positive – endorsements can help the reader get a feel who where the author will go and what ‘tribe’ they fit into theologically.
Negative – most of the time endorsements are written by very specific people to show a certain level or status. But how often is it really necessary for a seminary professor to endorse a children’s book? or how appropriate is it for a book written for women to be mostly endorsed by men?
Now that that’s out the way, here are some of the things that I would look out for in endorsements.
What theological spectrum is present?
I get that many Christians want to read materials written by people within their own theological camp. But to exclude other ideas or frameworks all together is simply ignoring people and assuming that you are 100% correct in everything. If you ever think you’ve arrived, you’ve got more learning to do that you think! A like a book to show a spectrum of people, some more reformed folks, some more charismatic, some more practical people and some theological brains too. Having a spectrum will also mean that more people will pick it up. I wouldn’t however go way left field with that. In the past I have contacted a publisher because they published an endorsement from someone who had disqualified themselves from ministry and yet here they were writing an endorsement for a well-known publisher.
Having a theological spectrum in endorsements can be helpful, but be wise.
Are the endorsements written by the relevant people?
There is no point having a seminary professor endorse a children’s book or a having endorsements mostly by men in a book written for women. That sounds obvious but you’ve be surprised!
One of the key things I would ask for anyone looking for endorsements is, who are the target audience? If the books has mostly been written for mums, get endorsements from mums. For theologians, then use seminary professors. For pastors, then use pastor’s endorsements.
An endorsement needs to be written by someone who is the target audience or who has an interest and works with the target audience. If there’s a book on discipleship, I don’t want to read the endorsement of a person who doesn’t disciple people, instead I want endorsements from those discipling on the front line day to day.
Why are their so many?!?!
Since Adam Thomas has started the endorsements awards ceremony over on Twitter (if you don’t know what I mean you’re missing out!) I can’t help but count the number of endorsements in every books I read. Sometimes it’s unreal! If a book is about 100 pages, it doesn’t need more than 10 endorsements (I’d say that’s probably too many anyway!). Just because more people endorse it doesn’t make the content any better. In fact, if I see a book that has copious amounts of endorsements then I’m actually less likely to read it because it feels a bit like an ‘Oh, come look at all my mates’ kind of attitude.
The majority of books could do with cutting out some endorsements, I don’t see why most books would need more than two pages of endorsements.
So there you go, you didn’t ask for it but you got it anyway, there are a few thoughts on endorsements. Either an overlooked or overrated few sentences that normally form the first pages of your books.