How Authors Can Use Negative Reviews and Quirky Endorsements to Sell More Books

How Authors Can Use Negative Reviews and Quirky Endorsements to Sell More Books

February 1, 2024

It’s the dream isn’t it – to have a bestselling author or respected expert endorse your book. For many, that famous or revered name will carry more gravitas on your book than your own name! Why? It’s called ‘social proof’.

Book endorsements, whereby another author or expert pens a pithy sentence or two singing the praises of your book, are also sometimes called:

  • Blurbs (though blurb can also mean the back cover paragraphs devoted to pitching your book to readers).
  • Testimonials.
  • Endorsements.
  • Puff quotes.

Authors benefit from having a couple of these puff quotes on the front and back cover because it says to readers that your book is a worthwhile read. It’s also great to highlight them on your author website and in your book marketing.

Some people say puff quotes don’t sell books, but if I see the name of a favourite author, subject expert or community leader endorsing a debut author – it certainly makes me more inclined to give the book a try!

If you’re traditionally published, some of the authors in your publisher’s or literary agent’s stable will be asked to provide an endorsement, but you’ll also be expected to reach out to your own network too.

For indie authors taking the self-publishing route, you need to start from scratch and I write extensively about how to go about it in Look-It’s Your Book!.

But guess what? You’re a creative writer and thinker, yes? Well, there’s no reason not to get creative with your approach to book blurbs and endorsements. You can even use negative blurbs to your advantage.

I laughed out loud when reading the back page blurbs and the ‘What the Critics Say’ page in Naked City: True Stories of Crimes, Cock-ups, Crooks & Cops by author John Silvester.


John and his publishing team gained social proof and added to the character of the book by using negative quotes. The quotes had been uttered by criminals and colourful characters during John’s years as a crime reporter and built a great picture of the author as someone who was embedded in the world he was writing about – and not particularly liked.

They included a few positive ones from more reputable sources too for good measure.

These quotes likely did more to position the book than getting a quote from another journalist or crime writer. Here they are, what do you think?

So, how might you get creative with your book endorsements to make the most impact? Think wide, think fun, think about how it will engage your readers – and think about how it will be true to your style and your genre.

For e.g., you could be humble and tap into people who actually know you. e.g. an old neighbour

  • Romance genre: ‘I knew Jo Jo would write a great rom com, she’s had plenty of experience.’
  • Business: ‘He’s been selling me stuff since that first lemonade stand and I’m still buying.’

See how you go and if you need any help, ideas, a framework for how to approach authors and experts for blurbs or an injection of confidence so you can reach out for endorsements,  I’m here to help with one-on-one book and book marketing consults.

Happy writing! Anna 🙂