By Rochelle Carter
In order to efficiently reach a large number of people, you need to develop and leverage a network of contacts who will help you identify, build, and connect with your platform.
These individuals include, but are not limited to:
- Publishing professionals (e.g., your editor, publicist, or agent)
- Booksellers in your genre
- Other writers
- Members of industry or trade organizations to which you belong
- Media personalities (e.g., reporters, radio hosts, or producers)
The Author Power Team
As an author, you are always on the lookout for new ways to improve your marketing strategy and grow your platform. One of the best ways to do this is by developing your power team.
What is a power team? A familiar term among business networking professionals, a power team is comprised of individuals and/or businesses with whom you share common goals or a common client base.
How can it help you as an author? The members of your power team can help you improve your strategy, connect with more readers, identify more opportunities, hone your message, and expand your reach.
Let us look at key members of an author power team and how they help you build your career.
- Publisher: Your publisher is an industry insider. If you have chosen wisely, your publisher should have a track record of producing successful books in your genre and should be able to provide you with tips and insights to help you get on bookshelves and in front of readers. Keep your contacts at the publisher in the loop so they are aware of all of your marketing and publicity efforts. This helps them keep your book stocked when and where it needs to be available. They can also give you feedback on publishing best practices.
- Publicist: A publicist helps you develop your marketing strategy and puts you in front of big media radio, television, print, and online. A publicist also helps you hone your message and clarify your brand so you can reach readers. They have spent years cultivating relationships with media and industry professionals and have access to contacts you may not be able to reach on your own.
- Other Authors in Your Genre: Wait they are your competition, right? Not necessarily. If you have differentiated yourself well, your work will stand out when compared to other authors work. Each author has something unique to give to the reader, but authors in the same genre share the same audience and are marketing to the same people. If you have been growing your platform and marketing your book, you should already have a following. Pull your efforts together with another author doing the same and you can double the strength of your platform and gain twice the reach.
- Bloggers: Bloggers who write about your topic or genre also share face time with your audience. They often have an open dialogue with a following that listens to their advice and trusts their recommendations. Develop relationships with bloggers in your category and offer to write guest posts, send them a free review copy of your book, share links, or come up with cross-promotional activities.
- Industry Gurus: No matter what topic or genre your book covers, there will be some movers and shakers already commanding a strong following in the same area. Cultivate a relationship with these people. They are connected and know what your readers are looking for. They can get you into events and speaking engagements that will put you directly in front of your target audience.
These are the primary members of your power team, but do not be afraid to think outside the box while choosing members. Each book and genre has special needs and interests that are served by many people. Aligning yourself with those people will help you engage your audience and, in turn, sell more books.
Remember, just as with your audience, be willing to provide value before you ask for anything from your power team in return. You are looking to cultivate relationships, not just take what you can get. Here are a few key things to remember as you build your team:
- Be sincerely interested in the other person.
- Find ways to help them meet their goals.
- Be willing and able to promote and/or endorse them.
- Relationships are a series of meaningful interactions. Make time to check in and see how they are doing, without looking for something in return.
Above all, treat them as you would want to be treated. If you are truly interested, considerate, and helpful, they will reciprocate.
Keeping Track of Opportunities
As an author, you are constantly chasing down opportunities to share your book, speak to a crowd, serve as a resource, and perform other platform-building activities. People will often say no to your first request but do not let that discourage you or stop you from pursuing a lead after the first contact!
It takes at least six points of contact for a message to sink in six yet more than 75 percent of the time, people stop pursuing leads after the first point of contact (Good Day 2009). Sometimes authors stop pursuing because they receive a no on the first try, other times because the number of leads to manage is overwhelming. Cultivating relationships is crucial to your career, but it does not need to take up all of your time.
The first thing you need to do is gather contact information. Every time you meet a lead or come across someone in a search, collect his or her contact information or business card right away. Enter them into a simple database such as Microsoft Outlook, PlanPlus, or Salesforce. Spreadsheets and Rolodexes can be hard to manage effectively, but databases like these allow you to classify your contacts, set up reminders, add notes, and keep track of all interactions. You can also consider adding new contacts on LinkedIn if you feel you know the person well enough to engage them online.
Next, you want to categorize your leads. Not all leads are created equal, and each group requires a different type of interaction. Here is a simple way to classify your leads:
- Hot or Cold Leads: These are people interested in having you speak or scheduling you for some other event. These contacts are ready to go and need to receive frequent, personal contact in order for the relationship to develop into an event or opportunity. These contacts go to the top of your list.
- Warm or Cold Leads: These are people who showed interest, but who have not yet decided whether they want to work with you. You will need to provide them with more information and work to cultivate the relationship.
- Cold or Cold Leads: Cold leads are people with whom you have no rapport, such as those you find on the Internet or find out about through third-party sources. These contacts are usually managed through what is called drip line marketing. Drip line marketing consists of things like newsletters or emails you send out to a distribution list on an infrequent basis. You may need to send an introductory email and then a reminder a few months later or add them to an informational newsletter until they opt out or say they are not interested. Setting up a drip line campaign is to help you cultivate those six points of contact and to educate potential clients who may turn into A or B leads.
Sorting your leads into these categories will help you better identify and manage opportunities as they come. Do not forget to provide value first, and remember that your leads are people. Treat them with respect and consideration, and always show your appreciation for their time.
Rochelle Carter is the President/CEO of Ellechor Publishing House. Ellechor is a publisher of Inspirational Christian books, including Adventure and Romantic fiction, and non-fiction/devotionals dealing with Relationships, Suicide Prevention and General Self-Help.