If you’re anything like me a small part of you (or let’s be real, a large part) hates networking situations with a passion, especially forced networking situations. There is nothing I dread more than a “networking night” which results in two-hundred people standing around a room talking to the same two people for the duration. One of the reasons I love writing is because it’s solitary by nature; ultimately it’s just you and the keyboard and your ideas manifesting themselves on the page. But if you want to actually sell books and have people read them, you have to meet other people and tell them about it. Since my debut novel was released a month ago, I’ve discovered what the best networking strategies are for people who hate networking.
1. Let your family and friends know about your book, in whatever way you see fit. In my case, I sent all my friends and family members an email. I asked them to sign up for my email list if they were interested in getting further updates from me. One of my uncles, who is very cerebral and who I assumed would have zero interest in my YA novel, bought the book and read it. A few weeks later he cc’d me on an email that he sent to twenty-five of his closest friends. In the message he told everyone how much he enjoyed the book, wrote a thoughtful, multi-paragraph review, and encouraged them to buy it. It just goes to show you never know who is going to be your biggest advocate.
2. Tell your colleagues about the book, in a passive way. Don’t shout it out during a company-wide meeting. Tell your boss in your weekly one-on-one. Send the people you aren’t as well-acquainted with a polite email. Tell them you published a book and provide a link for them to read more about it. From my experience this leads to a spike in sales and unexpected connections. When I told one colleague about my book he connected me with one of his best friends—who happens to be the executive editor of a major review publication and a published author. Meeting up with my colleague’s friend didn’t get a me a review, but it did get me other leads to bookstores and professional organizations I can promote myself to. Plus, he’s become a mentor of sorts who is happy to answer my publishing-related questions and give me career advice.
3. Go to as many writing and/or literary events as possible without any expectations for what might happen. I went to an Indie Author Day event at my local library recently and didn’t find it particularly useful since I’d already published my book and had done research for a year leading up to publication. As I was leaving the event another attendee asked, “Did you get anything out of that?” I told him no, not really. His next comment was, “You know what is useful…” and proceeded to tell me about a local writing group I’d never heard of that hosts guest speakers and workshops on a regular basis.
4. If a reader takes the time to contact you, thank them and ask how they heard about the book. I have found this to be a good way of gauging the effectiveness of my marketing efforts. What’s working and what isn’t? Was this money and time well spent? Nothing is better than direct feedback from readers. And when your next book comes out, they’ll remember you as the author who took the time to email them back. Hopefully they’ll buy your new book without having to think about it.