In my last post, 10 Things I've Learned Through Indie Publishing, I made a point of stressing that you should be working on building relationships, not followers. It was #5 on the list.
It should have been #1.
The truth is, if you are an indie author, and you are trying to make it in this wild new world of publishing, the one sure fire way to get noticed is to forge strong, long lasting relationships with people. All the followers in the world aren't going to help you if nobody is actually listening to you. Get what I mean?
I've read a number of books on marketing, and the common theme running through every single one is the idea that you must forge strong bonds with lots of people in order to get anywhere. This isn't just a numbers game. Well, it is, but not that kind of numbers game. The biggest misconception that indie authors currently face is this: having thousands of followers will sell your books.
This. Is. A. Lie.
The most disappointing thing I see these days is indie authors on Twitter following me, and then a day later unfollowing me again without ever trying to connect with me. They don't really want to connect with me. All they want is a follow-back. Big numbers to make them feel like they are accomplishing something, but they really aren't.
If you amass a list of five thousand people who automatically followed you back on Twitter, do you know what you have? Five thousand people who are highly unlikely to be watching anything you tweet about. Maybe one percent of them will actually watch your tweets, and even fewer will care enough to respond or retweet.
Here's a new trick: find people you are actually interested in, and follow them. Now don't just read what they tweet, but respond to it, talk to them, connect with them, and form a bond. If you are interesting, and you show them that you find them interesting, a friendship will form. Take all the time you are spending following and unfollowing people, and put that into forging one meaningful relationship per week. Fifty meaningful relationships will be far more valuable to you than five thousand vacant followers.
At the beginning of this month I released my second book, Legacy, Book II of The Time Weaver Chronicles. Its sales have been steady, and the exposure I gained through its release has bolstered sales of my first book. The reason? It certainly wasn't my marketing efforts, which have been lackluster at best. My successful launch has to do with all my friends and fans who banded together to not only buy my book, but also to spread the word about it. I have them to thank.
A list of followers is only as good as the relationships you have with them. So ask yourself this: in the last week, how many times have you written, tweeted, or posted something that was an honest effort at building a relationship?
This IS a Numbers Game
But not that kind of numbers game. The big sales come to two kinds of people: the extremely lucky, and those who work hard at forging relationships. The more lives you touch, the more people you build a meaningful relationship with, the better results you will get out of any marketing campaign. You'd be surprised at how far even a single tweet can go when there are actually people listening. In almost all cases, if you don't build a relationship with a person, they aren't listening.
Publishing is all about name recognition. The more often people see your name, the more curious they get about it. But here's the trick about name recognition: If people see your name in a positive way, they are more likely to accept your work in a positive way. It's true. You can influence how people see your work, simply by the way you act toward others. This isn't manipulative, it's human nature, and there's never anything wrong with being nice to people and helping them out.
This is the Road Less Traveled
There's nothing easy about this. It's a long road, but it doesn't have to be lonely. Seek out people who want to connect. Get to know them, and actually network with them. It's a lot of work, but in the long run, it's the only way to really get noticed.
What have you done lately to nurture professional relationships with others? Share your thoughts below!
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