Thursday 27 October 2016

How to build the right author connections to sell more books.

With the growth of indie publishing has come a dearth of organisations providing author services and alliances that bring them together, but when you really think about it the words of Ernest Hemingway are as true today as they were when he spoke them.

Hundreds of new authors appear on the scene daily and often see themselves as a part of a global tribe of authors, all pulling for each other, but to succeed as an author, especially as a self-published author, often requires a reality check. Unless you’re publishing for vanity, you have probably set your sights on building a growing following, readers who will rush out to buy your next book, but when it comes to promoting your book the ‘global author tribe” will only take you a short skip and a hop along what is often a long and arduous journey. 

As authors we gather together in increasingly virtual spaces, we invariably applaud the new releases of those we know and sing each other’s praises, but unless you are already at the top of your game the reciprocal impact on book sells is more often next to nothing unless you are lucky enough to attract the attention of a heavyweight influencer. So how far do we go when building connections that have a significant impact on book sells and more importantly how much time should we dedicate to it.

As - Edgar Rice Burroughs said, “If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favour.” Publishing has become one of the most competitive industries in the world. Few authors make it with their first book and if they are unable to satisfy the wants of their readers they will lose them. It’s as simple as that. With the advent of self-publishing readers now have an enormous choice of fiction and authors have to write and release at a fervent pace or risk anonymity. That’s why we believe eighty percent of an author's time should be given to their writing and twenty percent to what is broadly termed marketing.

The ‘Global Author Tribe’ is made up of a myriad of sub-tribes catering to all genres and of course there are the reader tribes to which so many authors are forever indebted. The trick is to pick the right tribes in which to invest your time. You can’t engage with every tribe, even with social media scheduling tools to take the lion's share of the burden and keeping your interaction authentic is critical.

You have probably heard that email lists are a great way to build connections. Don’t believe it. Ten years ago they certainly delivered big returns for canny marketers who made the investment of time and money but with personal email addresses constantly filled with spam, an overwhelming majority of people simply hit the junk mail option. Email lists are invariably built on the basis of giving something free in return for an email address but there‘s an enormous heavy hitting Gorilla called Amazon that provides all the free books a reader could ever want. Email lists do not work for the majority of authors so don’t waste your time. If you don’t believe us look out for our author survey with the statistics to prove our point.

No. When it comes to making the connections that work always make word of mouth your focus and contrary to much-touted marketing lore don’t invest the bulk of your time in online social mediums. Not everyone is on Twitter or Facebook. In fact at the time of writing this blog Twitter and Facebook are woefully silent on the number of dormant and fake accounts that litter their sites. Do something that has consistently delivered results for authors and start small but with big ideas. Remember that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing in the world and it begins with one person turning to another and telling them to read your book. 

Yes, it can happen online but a tweet and post are gone in the blink of an eye and word of mouth recommendations that simply flare and wither on the vine are not worth a major investment of your time. Think of the connections you make and your word of mouth strategy as your big guns and like all big guns they are at their most devastating when concentrated in one area for a period of time. So start with forums and communities that are local to you or niche genre communities online.  These are the areas in which you will build real and meaningful connections and ultimately where you will find the advocates who will help promote your books. The most important thing to remember is that whether face to face or online, the connections you build need to be authentic to prosper and your fellow authors are often the most avid readers. Build these connections, reciprocate, and in the medium, to long term, you will reap the rewards with a growing following and increased book sells.

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