What Are Your Thoughts About Book Endorsements?
Question from a reader:
Some of your books have endorsements, but many don’t. Why is that? Also, I’ve heard that some writers endorse books without reading them. Is this true? And are some endorsements by well-known people actually written by someone else?
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
Because people kindly endorsed my books when I was a young writer, I felt I should do the same for others, so I have done many endorsements over the years. But often it is very difficult to be reading other people’s books when you need to be writing your own! Of course, I read many books, sometimes hundreds of them, in researching the books I’m writing, but reading a book to do an endorsement rarely corresponds to my research.
With the golden rule in mind, I seldom request endorsements for my books any more, even when the publisher wants me to. I went about five years without requesting an endorsement. I made a major exception with the Eternity novel because the publisher isn’t well known yet, and many people aren’t used to the idea of a graphic novel, so I wanted it to have some credibility. Also, I knew it would take no one more than a couple of hours to read.
I have a moral responsibility to readers not to endorse a book when I haven't read it all. I still do some endorsements, but less than I used to, because of the time commitment to read the book first. Frequently the required endorsement turnaround time is less than a month, sometimes ten days. A few times I've had to skim the last few chapters of a book to turn around the endorsement for the next day, and it's a lousy feeling.
I'm often asked to endorse an entire book based on one chapter, and several times I’ve been sent an-already written endorsement and asked if I would agree to have my name attached to it! Personally, I don’t think this is ethical. I've also been told by several Christian leaders they would be glad to endorse my book, and they were having a staff person read it and give me the endorsement under the leader's name. I've had to explain I don't believe in ghost-written endorsements, so no need to send me one because I couldn't use it. That’s an awkward situation for everybody.
Along those same lines, years ago I wrote a critique of the practice of ghost writing in Christian publishing which put me in multiple difficult discussions with publishers and ghostwriters alike (addressed in the subsection called "The Ethics of Ghostwriting" of this article) . I also joined several dozen other Christian writers in signing a letter to our publishers expressing our ethical objections to ghostwriting.