The Power of People

See full issue for 2017 12-04

A while ago, I was introduced to a new and wonderful way to promote my books: Group promotion. What the heck is that? Well, it’s when a group of authors get together to cross promote each other’s work. I tweet your books to my readers, you tweet my books to your readers, we get together and discount our books in an “event” with a catchy title that makes readers think, “Oh yeah, I want to buy all of those books.” – okay, that last one’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

These group promotions can be limited to a single sale, or it can be a long-term relationship, like the one I have with my group, Deviant Dolls. The main thing I love about group promotions is that (when everyone participates) sales and/or reviews almost always increase. Maybe it’s only a couple more copies sold. Or maybe it’s just one more review appearing on Amazon. It’s not a lot in the beginning, but every bit helps.

And you should never stop growing your network. I realized when I published my recent novella, CHURCH, with Unnerving Magazine, that I haven’t networked nearly enough. Reviews are hard to get, and I failed to cultivate enough of those kinds of people in my marketing efforts. I’m pretty awkward at queries, be it for book publication or review requests, so rather than work on that skill, I avoided it. Lesson learned. I am now trying to be less awkward and making a serious (if mostly unsuccessful at the moment) attempt to add trusted reviewers to my circle of people.

I can imagine some of you are rolling your eyes. This sounds like a lot of effort, and it is, and it sounds… manipulative. “Friending” strangers to help you sell more books is icky. Maybe you think your book is so awesome, it’ll sell itself. Maybe you think you’ll do just fine on your own, because it’s how you’ve always done things. Not gonna change now. Well, what started as a business arrangement for me (and yes, it felt icky to be so calculating when starting these friendships), has resulted in many genuine relationships with “strangers” who I am honored to now call friends.

Listen, writing is a lonely endeavor. Just you and that blank page until one of you blinks. I get it. However, selling books isn’t a one-man/woman job. You need people to help get your book in readers’ hands. What people? Your people.

“How do I know who my people are?” you might be asking.

Your people begin with friends and family. I know, we say don’t ask friends or family to be your book critics or editors, because they probably won’t be honest and readers won’t believe them if they praise your work. When marketing, though, particularly when you’re new to the publishing world, friends and family are your first resource in getting the word out about you and your book. Use them. Let them toot your horn or whatever.

You can gain more people by joining writing groups, reading groups, begging for reviews from strangers, paying for book blog tours, and just being an all around nice person to other authors online by reviewing their books, inviting them to guest post or be interviewed for your blog, and/or networking on social media.

Gross. I know. But let’s face it, you alone cannot spread the word far enough.

BUT (and this is important) you don’t have to play nice with people you don’t like. All of this networking and socializing is to help you find the right people for you. And you will find them. Don’t settle for people who have nothing in common with you or who cause you stress for whatever reason. Find people you WANT to work with.

When your network begins to grow, keep in mind that these relationships you’re building should be like any relationship; give and take on both sides. That means, this isn’t all about you, nor is it all about them. You must be willing to give them as much as they give you and vice versa. If it’s another author, make sure you recommend them to your readers. Support them, encourage them, and be there if they need a beta reader. Or just read and review their books. If you don’t like what they write, then reconsider whether they should be part of your group.

If it’s a reviewer, then support their blog/website/whatever. Spread the word about them and what they do, even if they don’t review everything you write. Book reviewers should be precious to an author. Treat them that way. I’m not saying you should kiss their asses, but if you find an honest reviewer, a little snuggle now and then goes a long way.

Finally, if you’ve found a group, don’t get lazy. I’ve had what I thought were solid, lasting relationships in the publishing industry completely dissolve because someone got lazy. Someone assumed I’d always be there to help them. “The group” would always promote their stuff, because that’s what the group is for. They give less and less, until one day, I sat back and realized this person isn’t offering me anything, while I’m doing whatever I can to support and promote them. I’ve also found people who think I should just be grateful for being included in their circle. Like they’re so damn awesome, I should be honored to be just another minion on their friends’ lists. Nope. I don’t need those people, and you don’t need them either. Be particular, but don’t be an arrogant, lazy asshole either.

Book promotion is constant. It never stops as long as you want to keep selling your product. If you’re tired, fine, take a bit of a break, but don’t ever let yourself believe anyone in your group owes you anything, just because you’re you or because of what you’ve done for them in the past. None of us is that special. Sorry, cupcake. If any of my “people” stop working as hard as I do to promote their work or mine, I begin the long process of cutting them. It’s a long process because I hate doing it, by the way, because the people I’ve chosen are people I genuinely like and care about, so cutting a single one is like breaking up, and comes with all the icky feelings associated with such things.

So, what are you waiting for? Go find your people. If you’ve got any advice/experience to add, please share.





Renee Miller

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