Seriously. Network. I cannot stress this enough. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger, book signings, conventions, the coffee shop, wherever you happen to work, school, your kids’ school, ANYWHERE. Each connection you make is one more possible reader. In the world of writing, our readers are our number one priority. Whether you write a blog, school papers, novels, poetry or anything else, if you don’t have readers, you can’t be successful.
Social Networking sites are an amazing tool for writers. I am a member of a group on Facebook called Novel Publicity which is a conglomerate (4,291 members as of this moment) of people from all walks of the writing world; Authors, readers, bloggers, editors, critics, publishers, you name it.They have several lists where you can post links to your professional materials (your Facebook Fan Page, your blog, your Twitter account, your website, etc) and members go through those lists and connect to your materials. Sure, some of them go through, like your page, and then hide all posts by you. Some may even post their info and not go through and like anyone else’s stuff. Personally, my experience with them has been fantastic! I’ve broadened my target area considerably and gained 100+ “Likes” on my author page from that site alone. Even taking out 75% (WAY overshooting here) of them for people who blocked posts as soon as they “liked” my page, that’s still 25 people who will see the post when my book hits the shelves. Sure, only 10 of them might actually go out and grab a copy, and only 5 of them might tell a friend or 2 who might do the same, but as an author trying to get started, everything counts. Especially that free publicity.
In a world where you can get your hands on more free e-books than you could imagine reading in a lifetime, being a successful author is becoming exceedingly difficult. Good networking becomes more vital with each passing day. Connect with your potential readers and do everything you can to find those readers in places that are likely to do you and your business good. We are, after all, chasing that “J.K. Rowling Dream”! She didn’t get where she is by handing out free copies of her books to anyone holding out a hand. You’re going to run into people who are only out to get their hands on a free copy of your stuff. It’s inevitable. Before you go giving away your money, be absolutely sure that you will get something out of it. A mention in a Facebook status at the very least. If you’re going to give away free copies, book bloggers are the way to go. Just be careful. Again, make sure that you’ll get something out of it. Don’t give your romance novel to a critic who covers sci-fi. They will most likely just delete it or toss it in the nearest garbage can. They have plenty of people sending them books from their preferred genre in hopes of getting a good review on a popular site. If you can, contact them and get some info from them. Ask if they have time in the near future to do a review, ask about their preferred genre, try to get them to promise a review, good or bad, when they finish reading your work. Bad reviews are not only publicity (I know people who will only read a book if it was given a bad review just to see if it was really as bad as they say) but if you’re smart, you’ll read what the critic has to say and take notes. Not only are they readers, but they are pipelines to immense numbers of people every day. If they say that your flow was wrong in places or that “the voice” we all hear so much about was lacking, note it down and pay close attention to those things as you write and edit your next manuscript. Don’t give them the chance to say it twice!
Having 1,000 “likes” (views, friends, what have you) of your book before you even land a publishing deal can (I imagine) be a MAJOR bargaining chip when it comes time to publish. That’s 1,000 people who, if you do your job properly, will be more likely to read your book and tell their friends to do the same. That means a faster recoup time for the publisher that picks you up which means your royalties will start rolling in faster and they’ll be begging you to release your next book as soon as possible. Which they will pay you even more for.
First, you need to get your book written! You should probably get on that right about now! Happy writing!