“One Reader at a Time”
Guest Post by Tim Smith
Early in my working career I spent several years as a restaurant manager. One of the companies I worked for was a small regional chain that grew quickly due to the owner’s philosophy – “You make your customer base one person at a time. If they like us, they’ll tell a friend; if they don’t, they’ll tell ten friends.”
In the ultra-competitive world of publishing, this is a philosophy authors should embrace, especially if you’re new. Sometimes the one-on-one approach is better than the shotgun method of blasting your book to every online outlet. There are several ways to accomplish this.
Chat Boards – Sign up for as many of these as your schedule allows. Yahoo Groups has something for every interest. I receive several of these in daily digest form so I’m not bombarded with hundreds of e-mails. Look over the topics and if there’s one that interests you, post a response (don’t forget to include your website). If someone says they’re blogging somewhere, follow the link, read their post and leave a comment. Don’t be shy about posting your own excerpt or topic, either.
Blogs – Does anyone not have a blog these days? Do a search for something in your field of interest or genre, read the articles and leave a comment, even if it’s nothing more than “Great post!” There’s often a wealth of useful information and tips on a person’s blog site. Usually you’ll find links to other sites and services, too.
Guest Blogging – Many sites want guest bloggers for variety and will often post a plea on chat boards for someone to help carry the load. You can usually include a blurb or short excerpt, along with links. I’ve done a lot of these and some of the responders have written to me off-site to continue the discussion. I’ve made a point to maintain contact with the site hosts and have built up a nice network as a result. Remember to check the site throughout the day you’re being featured and respond to posts left by readers. If you can run a contest, like answering a trivia question in exchange for a free copy of your book, so much the better.
Social Media – Facebook has become the online bistro where everyone hangs out. I have a page there to promote my writing and photography. When I do a blog, interview, or have a new release, I utilize the Facebook share link to let my community of friends know about it. Many sites also have similar links for Twitter and Google.
Don’t forget the personal touch – Take time to drop an occasional e-mail to contacts you’ve made, whether online or in person. I also do this with some reviewers, no matter what they thought of my book. If you’ve received a bad review, you can spin this into a positive experience. Take the high road and let the reviewer know that you weren’t annoyed by their total lack of interest in your blood, sweat and tears. A word of caution, though – never write to a reviewer and question their parentage because they didn’t give you raves. It’s a small community and things like that tend to get around.
Speaking of the personal touch… I’ve done my share of book signings and festivals and I work hard to establish a rapport with anyone that stops by my table. Make a nice comment about their attire or the team logo ball cap they’re wearing to start a conversation before pitching your product. Even if they don’t buy one of your books, make sure they leave with something, such as a pen, bookmark or your business card. Sadly, I’ve seen authors who attended these events, got into a conversation with the person at the next table and ignored their guests. Afterward they complained “I was here all day and didn’t sell very many books!” Gee, I wonder why?
Quid pro quo – Offer to share website links with other writers by posting their link on your site if they’ll do the same for you. I’ve done this and have been pleasantly surprised by the increase in traffic. I didn’t limit it to writers, either. A good friend of mine is a professional DJ and event planner. I featured his site and he reciprocated in kind. You never know when someone may visit someone else’s domain, see your logo (especially if it’s eye-worthy) and decide to check you out.
The bottom line – it’s all about getting readers one at a time.
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from mystery/thrillers to contemporary romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com. His latest romantic thriller, “Never Look Back,” can be found at www.extasybooks.com.