Today Alice Osborn is guest posting with valuable information on how to network to sell your (future) book! Thanks Alice!
In today’s competitive publication climate networking can make all of the difference between your books sitting a cold box in storage or in customers’ warm hands. And even before you publish, networking can help you connect you to editors, agents and to your readership.
Perhaps in the old days writers didn’t have to be so “out there,” as today, but now we don’t have any choice but to learn how to network effectively to build our platform and to catch the eye of a potential publisher.
Because you need a strong, dynamic network of over 260+ people to sell your future book, find venues for your book launch, discover readers, gain referrals to book clubs and to engage in writing opportunities. You’re now building your “sphere of influence.”
It’s a good idea for writers to network with both writers and non-writers. Networking is about connecting to people and letting them know how you can help them. Networking will build your reputation and grow your readership since most people want to do be associated with those they know, like and trust. But where do you start if you don’t have any sales or marketing training? The good news is that it doesn’t matter what kind of training or background you have, as long as you’re willing to learn and take a few stumbles along the way.
The most effective networkers succeed through practice, patience and skill since they know that effective networking involves asking smart questions, giving information and not pitching your goods and services to everyone you meet. Effective networkers also know that givers gain, and even if the person they are generous with their time and resources doesn’t reciprocate, they’ll gain in the future because of their efforts.
Get Started By
- Preparing a 30-sec commercial that tells those around you what makes you different and tells them what you’re passionate about. Why do you write what you write? Who or what are your influences?
- Perfecting the art of making introductions for others. For instance, when you meet someone who could help someone you know, like an editor or a graphic designer, offer to send an email, cc’ing your new networking friend in the email. And if you can, try setting up a meeting that will involve you and your two mutual contacts. Introduce them to each other and then back off a little so they can get to know each other. If a meeting is too hard to set up, invite your potential networking colleague to an event/program and talk with him/her at the venue.
- Be willing to volunteer your time if you see that the group you’re volunteering for can help you in the future. For example, if you don’t have a book out yet and you volunteer to give a talk to the local library, keep ties with that library so you can be invited back when you do have a book in hand.
- Showing up at open mics and other authors’ readings in your community. Join your local writing association and attend conferences. You never know when your teacher from three summers past will pass your name onto her agent or her friend who runs a small press.
- Scheduling a one-on-one (a meeting with one other person) and at the meeting take good notes. Always carry your business cards and your referral partners’ business cards as well so you can pass out a name if you need to. Use a binder/business card sheet system that is arranged up alphabetically by first name so you can quickly find your contacts. It’s also a good idea to carry multiples of your writing colleagues’ cards so you don’t run out.
In the one-on-one, ask your networking partner these smart questions so you can better know them and their business:
Who is your ideal reader?
Who are your best referral partners?
What are your professional writing goals over the next 90 days?
What challenges are you faced with right now?
What is your passion behind your writing? (WHY you do what you do?)
Also remember that a one-on-one is never a sales pitch.
Always follow up with potential referrals and give them the links and contact information they requested in your one-on-one meeting.
Use the people you know right now in your network even if you share different careers because you never know who can help you land your next assignment or big publishing break. And remember, strong networks don’t happen overnight, so start growing yours now!
Alice Osborn, M.A. is the author of two books of poetry, Unfinished Projects (Main Street Rag, 2010) and Right Lane Ends (Catawba, 2006); she is a manuscript editor, freelance writer and storyteller. A former Raleigh Charter High School English teacher, Alice has served as a Writer-in-Residence in the Artists in the Schools program since 2009. Her work appears in Raleigh’s News and Observer, The Pedestal Magazine, and in numerous journals and anthologies. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and two children. Website: www.aliceosborn.com.