I recently met a first-time author, who gave me a copy of his book. Shortly after, I got an email from the author’s publicist saying, “We’d appreciate it if you would post your five-star review of the book on Amazon.”
- I don’t mind being asked to post a review of a book (though this ask was poorly done).
- I don’t mind being asked by a publicist, as opposed to the author, if it’s done well (this was not).
- But what frosts me is being told by a publicist what rating to assign the book without even asking whether I’d read it or even intended to read it.
Let’s break it down: What are the rules governing recommendations, referrals and references? And how many did the publicist violate?
How to ask for a favor
Rule #1. Don’t ask for a favor; ask for the repayment of a favor already done. The ideal way to promote your book is to start six months in advance by deciding whose help you’re going to want and immediately start promoting them. Comment on their blog posts. Tweet their material. Introduce them to others.
That way, when it comes time for your ask, they are simply discharging an obligation of etiquette, a favor they are more than happy to grant. (And lest this sound coldly utilitarian, note this is a description of what friends do for friends).
What’s true for books is true for referrals. Haven’t done any favors for others lately? Then you’re going to come up short when you start trying to ask for favors. Life is like that. Favors earned are favors granted.
Think that’s not fair? Wrong. It is very, very fair. It’s the essence of the matter.