Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Platform Lessons

I've been reflecting recently on my publishing journey, particularly the marketing aspect. Much of my research suggests that you ask for endorsements, and aim pretty high. What could it hurt? I want my message to reach as many folks as possible. So I got brave and asked some pretty big names for endorsements and reviews. I also asked some  lesser known authors and reviewers. Here's what happened.

The famous, high profile authors responded to me within a few days. The answer was "Sorry, no," but I received warm congratulations and well wishes. (Apparently, when you reach a certain pinnacle of success, your name doesn't belong to you anymore, or at least that was the case for one of the authors.) The emails were from assistants. That didn't bother me at all. They responded, and wished me well. The messages might have even been automated, but it didn't seem that way.

The lesser known folks did not respond at all. Now I will concede that there could be many reasons for that, like not having an assistant. This is not a rant or criticism, but it just illustrates a point. Who do you think I'm still a huge fan of, and who do you think not so much? The response I received solidified the message of the authors who responded. The lack of response caused me to lose a little faith in the message of those that completely ignored me.  Let it be noted that everyone with whom I have a relationship, whether multi-published or not, online or in person, said Yes!.

So the lessons I've learned in this journey so far are:

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Relationship - build relationships with people who need your message and/or who can help get your message out there.  

How do you build relationships with your readers?
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  1. You raise great points and point out large challenges. Here are a few thoughts from my experience.

    I have a book review website that averages about 250 unique visitors a day. In the eight plus years of having the site I have had over 750,000 visitors. Quite by accident, the site became popular. Way back in 2009 it was named a 100 Best Sites for History Buffs. That news was picked up several media sources and for a few days, I was hitting 10,000 visitors before drop off to 250. That was up from 10 to 15 day. It has stayed constant in the 250 to 275 range.

    Beginning at that point major publishing houses, agents, publicist, and authors started contacting me to review and promote their work. The best part was more than a dozen publishers started sending me review copies without a demand that I review the book. They came with a nice, if you would like to review note. Free books in a field I love to read. Yea!

    The worst part was high-pressure publicists who wanted me to post the "Five Star" review they provided on my site as well as post it on Amazon, Goodreads, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Google Books and B&N. It included the exact day they wanted it published. I even had one send the book unsolicited with these demands and say if it did not do it they would bill me for the book! That is low class.

    The best experiences are with friends and acquaintances. I somehow befriended one publisher through one of her writers. The writer and I had been in an online writers group. She had been a beta reader for me and she had me send part of my manuscript to her publisher saying she recommended I do it. They publisher declined as it was outside what they normally publish. I have since reviewed a number of books for that small press and have bought the copies I have reviewed. I met the publisher/owner - a wonderful husband and wife team at the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference a few years later. I enjoy what this small Christian Press publishes (Cladauch Publishing). I have also had several university professors thank me for the reviews of their book with the greatest compliment of all - from your review I know you read the entire book!

    I am doing some promo for an acquaintance new book next week. He is a middle-sized male author who writes full time and is a name in his genre. I starting reading his blog a few years ago and made intelligent, affirming comments a few times a month. Over time he Goggle me, went to my blogs, etc. When my first book came out, he surprised me with a short mention. He has a blog that gets over one million visitors a year. Recently, he offered if I read/review his next book he would reciprocate with me and link to me from his high volume blog. I agreed saying I will if feel comfortable with what he wrote.

    So much seems to be building relationships. Ultimately, I feel God is in control and in spite of me will get out His message.

    I have about a dozen "readers" I have met at conferences across the USA. They mainly are fellow authors/writers. I read their blogs and comment or like, buy their books, and with a few, we share our work and allow each other to recommend changes and even recommend edits. My writer's group call them my writing groupies, as all are women. Ha, they are just people with a passion for writing as I have.

    I know this is a big subject. I actually have eight works due out between now and the end of 2015. It is a subject heavy on this writer's mind

  2. Wow, Jimmie, this is fabulous information. You're right, it is a big subject. I'm in awe of your progress outlined here. As you say, God is in control, and we have to leave the results to Him. Thanks for coming by and for this excellent contribution.

  3. My site doesn't have the numbers as yours Jimmie...but I, too, get several requests a month to review and promote. Someone even sent me a calendar of releases I could choose from--like, aren't you getting paid to ask people? I don't have time to go on your calendar and pick out stuff to ask you send me. On the other hands, I'm always happy and grateful to help out friends.

    1. I love to help out friends too, Lisa. Having a hard time balancing work, reviewing, marketing, and, oh yeah, writing. But joyfully love having this problem!