Networking tips every writer should know

You don't just write a book, you network it

It's possible for authors to be reclusive and still be bestsellers. Think Jane Austen and J.D. Salinger. Even J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin didn't have to go out much.

Nowadays, though, social media has made that option pretty much untenable. No author who is now establishing themselves can afford to be reclusive - in fact, even if you want to be, your agent or publisher will pressure you to "get out there".

 If you're self-published, even worse - you'll have to get out there on Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, maybe even TikTok. 

You'll certainly have to do emails to everyone you know and even more people that you don't.

Why? Because it's the best way to sell lots and lots of books,

Your friendly neighborhood writer

Let's start with the most basic networking tool: a website. There are lots of free tools online for you to create your own website nowadays but, if you're a total techno-peasant, you can pay for one. Rates aren't too ridiculous. You want to make sure your website looks good and, most importantly, is easy to navigate. 

Most importantly, make sure your website has stuff for readers to navigate to!

Good content makes your readers content

What do you start with? Obviously, your book or books. Make sure all your titles are prominently displayed with cover art thumbnail photos, blurbs, excerpts, and links to your social media, like your professional Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, etc.

You should also provide links to other sites where your books can be purchased, like your Amazon page, and to interviews you've done or to book reviews.

Include a personal statement on your website's landing page (that's the first page visitors see when they link to your website.

Show off you

You'll also want to include a press kit. That's a downloadable package that includes all the information fans and, more importantly, journalists will want about you.

Prepare your press kit (or pay for it to get done) keeping in mind what a journalist would need if they're doing an in-depth profile or a long interview with you. 

For instance, you should have your bio in three different lengths: 75 words, 150, and 300. That makes life easy for the journalist since they can just choose the one they want to drop into their article.

A nice touch is to include some sort of special piece that will interest readers. This can be a really gripping article, an excerpt from your book, or even a useful link. It has to evergreen, though - something that can be read or used and certainly shared years later without being dated.

Email is the most effective kind of writing you'll ever do

Then there's that old but still reliable social media workhorse: email. There's really no better avenue for marketing your book and yourself. If you don't have one already, build up a contact list, starting with family and friends and expanding to people who might be interested in your book. You can also buy a relevant list from sites like Bookbub.

But don't email about your book, at least not immediately. Your email thread should focus on writing. Send regular emails to the group, perhaps about once a week, about the life of a writer.

 What's a typical day like? What are the challenges for a writer who also has a regular job (as most do)? How do you name characters? What are your favorite words? The list of things readers like to know about writers is almost endless.

Who loves ya, writer?

Once you have created your own social media sites, you have to start connecting with others. This is where more direct networking starts.

Find groups that are interested in books - more specifically, your type of book. But don't join these groups and immediately start touting yourself as an author and talking about your book. That will turn people off and, in any case, is not very good manners. 

It's like COVID protocols, but online

Instead, try to contribute meaningfully to ongoing discussions. make sure your posts are graceful and polite. Get in on relevant Facebook events. If you don't want to have your own blog, write an occasional guest blog on sites that allow this and which have an audience that might like your book. Don't ever post intrusive content. Instead, connect people with causes and ideas.

Back to the real world

Chatting about books has moved to the online world, but that doesn't mean you should ignore the real world. Non-fiction authors, in particular, make speaking at events part of their business model. If they aren't naturally good public speakers, they train themselves to be. 

Being a professional speaker makes you stand out in the marketplace of authors. After all, most authors are introverts. So practice reading your own work aloud. Learn to deliver your prose with aplomb. That way you can be confident at book signings, readers' and writers' conventions, and events at libraries and even coffee shops.

Always get personal

And, after your talk or reading comes the important part: conversing with the audience. Answer questions, let people get to know you. Because, even in this age of social media, the most effective marketing gets done through the personal touch. 

Always have business cards with your phone number and email to hand out. But only give them to someone after you've had a conversation with them. after conversation. remember, you're not at these events as a promoter, you're there as a networker. Provide value, even if all you've done is have an interesting chat with somebody.

Your goal is to build real interpersonal connections. You want to know all kinds of people and have them know you, because you never know who's interested in what and who knows who.

You want to create a network that will continue to exist even if the Internet collapsed tomorrow. 

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