So why did I put myself in this uncomfortable position? My publisher didn’t insist on it; in fact, they’d never done it before. When I raised the possibility, I was half hoping to be told, No, we don’t do that here. But no, Inspired Quill in the form of MD Sara Slack was keen to give it a go. Sara was so enthused by the prospect, she extended our petitions beyond published authors to “experts” and “celebrities” who might take a particular interest in the themes.
So, proof copies at the ready, begging letters crafted, we drew up a list. Even with email, it ate up an enormous amount of emotional energy and time. Receiving the first ‘no’ was like submitting to agents and publishers all over again. The ‘yes’ that came after elicited a different kind of anxiety: now my fellow-authors would know that my writing was crap. How would I ever raise my head on Twitter again?
After much holding of breath, the accolades arrived. Not that I’ve ever taken part in one, but I can’t help likening it to a military assault course. And we’ve come out the other end clutching a bunch of fine phrases in our scratched and grubby hands. They’ll appear in the final published versions of my novel, but you can have advanced sight on this page I’ve created on my website. Thanks to all those who took the time to read my novel and offer feedback, as well as those who give it serious consideration but had to decline.
Having been rewarded so well for our efforts, it might seem ungrateful to wonder whether such things matter. Many readers prefer to make up their own minds about a novel’s merit than to follow the herd. For me, an excess of hyperbole – with puffed-up phrases scattered across the cover – can have the opposite effect to that apparently intended.
So why do it? The simple answer is that that’s what the publishing industry does. A novel needs to have endorsements, regardless of their content, in the same way that it needs an ISBN number and an author bio at the back. But for me personally it’s about propping up my authorial authority. A publisher, a gorgeous cover and now the endorsement of others I respect provides a buffer between me and my readers, rendering me feeling less exposed than if it were solely a matter of me and my words. I think it also provides a form of protection for my readers, especially family and friends purchasing the novel because of their relationship with the author more than because they’re captivated by the story itself. In addition to my stalwart blog supporters, I want to be able to reassure those attending my launch parties it’s a proper book.
Meanwhile, I’m celebrating my first published review (from one of my endorsers, Victoria Best) and my first guest post (on writing about secrets, the false self and insecure identities) both out today on the esteemed book-recommendation site, Shiny New Books. With two weeks still to publication, and my novel available for preorder on Amazon (seems I got my head out of the sand just in time), it’s all very exciting.
How much notice do you take of endorsements as a reader? As a writer, have you ever been asked to provide one or sought them yourself? Should I be more confident in my own assessment of my novel without needing to hide behind others’ opinions? Do let me know!