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The difference between book reviews and endorsements

What’s the difference between book reviews and book endorsements? (And why should you care?) Authors sometimes use the terms interchangeably, but there are distinct and important differences between the two.

A book review is a literary criticism that expresses the reader’s opinion about the book’s content. It might be flattering; it might be unflattering.

An endorsement, also known as a book blurb or testimonial, is short, advance praise for your book from someone who influences your book’s target audience. They key word here is “praise.”

Two forms of book reviews

While endorsements are (nearly) always solicited, reviews aren’t always. They can happen organically when any random reader decides to critique your book.

Before Amazon, book reviews were written by professional reviewers — people whose job it is to read and critique books. Since Amazon initiated “customer reviews,” book reviews now come in two forms:

  1. Professional media/editorial/literary/trade reviews (they go by many names)
  2. Reader reviews

Professional reviews (media/editorial/literary/trade) are written by professional book reviewers. Their goal is to provide objective commentary that will help people decide if they want to read the book.

They can come from reviewers who work for publishing industry publications (such as Kirkus Reviews or Publisher’s Weekly), trade magazines, newspapers, or certain blogs or websites.

Publishers and authors solicit them in advance of publication for two reasons. First, so that they can pull excerpts to use as blurbs. And second, so that the reviews will be published around the time the book is released.

You solicit them from monthly, printed publications three to four months in advance of publication date. Newspapers, bloggers, online publications, and websites have shorter lead times, so you can contact them closer to your release date.

customer reviewsReader reviews are exactly that — reviews from your book’s target audience. They’re reviews from the people you wrote the book for.

You can secure them before publication by giving away pre-publication review copies. Unlike literary reviews and blurbs, however, they can’t be posted on your Amazon sales page until the book’s publication date.

Still, if you’ve got a well-organized review campaign in place, it’s possible to get honest reviews posted and shared on or near your publication date so that people see honest reader feedback as soon as they visit the book’s sales page.

Book endorsements

Endorsements/blurbs/testimonials are secured pre-publication so that they can be featured:

  • On the book’s front or back cover
  • Inside the front pages
  • On the book’s Amazon and other retail sales pages in the “Editorial Reviews” sections
  • In your book’s Amazon A+ Content on your detail page
  • In your marketing materials
  • On your website

They might be from media/editorial/literary/trade reviewers, but more often than not, they’re from influential people in your book’s niche or category. The people you ask for a blurb are those your target readers like, trust, and respect.

You control endorsement visibility

You (or your publisher) control whether endorsements are or aren’t used and seen.

The expectation is that any influencer who takes the time to endorse your book will truly endorse it by saying something positive. If you get negative feedback from an endorser, you might be able to learn from the comments, but you won’t use any of them publicly.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”If you get negative feedback from an endorser, you might be able to learn from the comments, but you won’t use any of them publicly.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

That said, a professional reviewer — as opposed to an influencer — can write and publish a less-than-flattering review. If that happens, you simply won’t pull an excerpt from that for your book marketing.

Endorsements in action

How will you use endorsements or excerpts from early reviews? Here are three ways a publisher of a thriller I just read (and loved), 56 Days, is using early endorsements from both professional reviewers and influencers.

Back cover

book reviews and endorsements 2

Editorial Reviews (click on the image to enlarge it)

book reviews and endorsements 3

Amazon A+ Content

book reviews and endorsements 4

Why should you care?


Blurbs/endorsements/testimonials from influential people give your book credibility while reassuring your target audience that the book will deliver on its promise.

Honest reviews, whether they’re from media outlets or readers, help readers decide if your book is what they’re looking for in fiction or nonfiction. Even negative reviews are important, since what one reader didn’t like about your book might be exactly what another reader is looking for.

Make sure you’ve got strategies for soliciting both reviews and endorsements in your book marketing plan. They’re essential to your book’s long-term and ongoing success.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”Make sure you’ve got strategies for soliciting both reviews and endorsements in your book marketing plan.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

Resources that will help

book reviews and endorsements 5Need help? I have two resources for you. The Build Book Buzz multi-media training program, Blurbs, Endorsements, and Testimonials: How to Get Experts, Authorities, Celebrities, and Others to Endorse Your Book,” provides everything you need to secure pre-publication blurbs from influential individuals.

And, my Reader Book Review Forms — one each for fiction and nonfiction — help you get more reader reviews by taking the mystery out of the review-writing process for your fans.

It’s important to note that you can always solicit both endorsements and reviews. Work with your publisher (or do it yourself if you’re self-published) to update your Editorial Reviews section and cover as you acquire more endorsements.

You can never have too many reader reviews, too, so continue to pursue them as much as you can.

What’s keeping you from going after an endorsement from your dream book blurber? Tell us why you haven’t done it yet, and maybe we can get you past the obstacles. 

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in May 2015. It has been updated and expanded.)

Subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter and get the free special report, “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources,” immediately!

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  1. I jumped into the fray with a self published book and no marketing plan! The book came out in October. I did some local marketing but would like to widen the reach. Is it too late to follow your advice and get reviews? Do you think it’s worth it to pay the several hundred dollar fees?

    1. Dana, it’s never too late to get book reviews. I’ve got someone on my team working with an author right now to generate reviews on a book that came out two years ago — and they’re coming in! What, specifically, are you referring to with the several hundred dollar fees, though?


  2. My book was published in November,2014 and nothing much was done pre or post publication until recently. A friend has created a Facebook page for the book and is pushing the publisher to expedite the e book format. I have signed with a company that is promoting my book and me to over 150 radio shows that is expected to result in bookings. I have already done two radio shows through my friend, have one host waiting for me to say when but something is missing.

    Although there are eight reader reviews posted and more in the offing, I am disappointed in not getting any local print media coverage and have been discouraged from having book signings. There is a PR person with whom I worked in the past when I was the writer and he was the PR newbie who has agreed to write a comment, but it’s been a few months now and he hasn’t done so. I am giving up on continuing to make the request. While my book is light reading and entertaining, it does not have a hook to make it stand out as most books do today,ie: how to, heart warming memoir,intriguing mystery or the like, it is a book anyone with an interest in the men of the silver screen from 1930 through 2010 will find very intriguing. Kirkus charges a good deal for professional reviews and my budget is already strained.

    1. Sylvia, book promotion definitely takes constant effort. I’m sorry it’s been a frustrating experience for you.


  3. Hi, Sandra. Thanks for this post. I’ve tried to get reviewers to review my books, but I’ve yet to find one that is currently accepting review applications. Either that, or they are far too expensive for my almost non-existant budget.
    Many of my reviews come from authors with my publisher.
    I would also like to get some reviews and endorsements from other, better known authors, but have no idea where to find them, or how to approach them.
    Still, I’ll keep on trying!

    1. V.M., I’ve linked to an article above that offers advice for finding fiction endorsers, but here’s the link so you don’t have to look for it: https://buildbookbuzz.com/who-should-you-ask-to-endorse-your-book/

      Also, my training program mentioned at the end of the article above explains how to find them and what to say when you do. Here’s the link for that, too: https://build-book-buzz.teachable.com/p/blurbs-endorsements-and-testimonials

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