Last week, with our fingers frozen stiff inside of our heaviest winter mittens, we leaned into the life-affirming (and self-publishing-lifestyle-affirming) wisdom of self-publishing authors who have seen success, drawing specifically upon a series of articles put out by Goodreads; the first post was titled “Advice for Aspiring Indie Authors by Successful Indie Authors” and I would continue to recommend that you check it out, as well as its sequel, “Indie Authors Share Their Secrets to Creating Successful Self-Publishing Careers,” which features much more lengthy insights from a number of others.
We were hoping that the polar vortex would have been on its merry way by now, but depending on where you live, you may be in for quite a bit more snow throughout the remainder of February.
Since the weather hasn’t changed much, we’ll continue in the same vein as my last article two weeks ago, and if you’ll remember, that article ended with a statement and a question:
This week, take a moment to witness and absorb the wise words of these authors and remember what got you into self-publishing in the first place. Remember the joy that comes with carving out a space for yourself in the world of words, and seeing something you’ve written out there, changing the lives of those lucky enough to find it.
Now we can get started thinking about how to help more people be that lucky, right?
If we rephrase that question as how can we get started thinking about how to help other authors find success in self-publishing, the question becomes even more interesting and complex. One way in which authors differ from other entrepreneurs or small business owners is that we are very rarely in competition with each other in any way that affects the pocketbook. If anything, feuding authors tend to drive up each others’ sales, although that’s certainly not a marketing approach that we would counsel anyone to embrace—not when positive collaborative opportunities are so readily available!
[Several years ago, we hosted a “Marketing Master Strokes” article on the subject of “Playing Well With Others,” and it’s well worth revisiting here.]
Even before you reach out to another author to collaborate, there are plenty of ways to learn and benefit from other authors. You’re probably already drawing on quite a few of your own favorites as inspiration for your own work—and the act of writing itself—but you can also learn from other authors by studying how they shape their own brand and public marketing platform. Spend some time on Google acquainting yourself with author websites, Facebook pages and other social media accounts, blogs, newsletters, and their various efforts throughout. Which websites grab your eye? What features do they share? What can you learn from even an ugly website, in terms of what to steer clear of? What was the author’s latest promotion: a sale, a discount, a giveaway, or something else? And what kind of programs and materials did they use to make that happen? How often do they Tweet and post to Facebook, and what kinds of content seem to gain the most responses?
All of these questions can be answered just by surveying what material is already out there. It’s worthwhile narrowing your focus to look at authors who have similar resources to you, or writing in the same genre; doing so will make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and ensuring that these authors’ marketing strategies are manageable.
But then … once you’ve finished your web sleuthing … it’s time to make a personal connection. As you’re conducting your web search, keep a record of the names and contact information for authors whose work and marketing strategies you admire. Once you’ve got a handful, it’s time to reach out! Put together a letter to each one which expresses, simply and straightforwardly, what it is you admire about their work and what you’d like to do with them. Would you like to, as our “Marketing Master Strokes” article put it, pair up with another author or multiple authors to host a book discussion or workshop together? Would you like to gather several other authors together and apply to run a booth at a local book fair, or a panel at a “con” (convention)? Would you like to conduct interviews with other authors and share them on each other’s websites, providing insight into the authorial process? Or would you like to perhaps co-write short stories or novellas together, to be distributed as giveaways or free to the public online?
In my opinion, interviews and blog “round-ups” are the most fun and enlightening, and not only do they help drive traffic to your website or blog, but they also may just provide some important insights that you will make good use of in the future!
The letter doesn’t have to be long. It could, in fact, be a three-to-six sentence email. The main thing to remember, etiquette-wise, is that many self-publishing authors who post their contact details online get lots of spam, so make sure your letter or email doesn’t look and feel like the dreaded “form” or “spam” letter. And you should never push back if someone says “no,” because there are far too many awesome possible collaborations out there to be disappointed by one “no,” and also because you really do want to find those authors whose work and style meshes nicely with yours naturally and without too much scheduling gymnastics. A simple:
“Hi, I’m [insert name here], and I recently self-published a book on [insert half-sentence premise here]. I was really impressed by your recent blog post on [insert subject here], and I was wondering if you might be interested in doing a quick interview exchange which we could both post to our blogs. You can find out more about my book at [insert link] to see if a collaboration feels right to you. I wish you much success in all that you do! Sincerely, [insert name here].” Or at least, that’s the kind of email I’d write!
If you have already collaborated with other authors, good on you! That’s awesome! We’d love to hear from you about how you went about making those connections, and how the process ended up working out. Just drop us a line in the comments section, below!
You are not alone. ♣︎
Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.