Intro: I’d met Debra via Twitter a few weeks back when she mentioned the concept of finding 100 pre-sales for my book before even approaching editors or agents. This was during a chat with agents on Twitter, and some of the agents agreed. Have heart, though. Some didn’t think it mattered ahead of time and that a platform could be built after a publishing contract. Personally, I prefer to proactive route when possible so that’s the approach I’ve taken.
So Debra’s written this guest post to expand on that idea and give us some tips on how to accomplish this feat, as well as an attempt to address some of the questions left by commenters on Sunday’s blog post here.. I know it sounds impossible, but it’s not. It takes time. And that’s why I’ve been spending so much time building my foundation before my book is even ready to pitch.
This isn’t something I could do in a week, or a month, and maybe not even in a year although that would certainly be enough time to get good and started. It’s part of the new playing field for writers, especially if you want to self-publish or go with small presses.
Feel free to ask questions or leave comments!
NETWORKING AND TWITTER FOR WRITERS
Thank you for your mention, Roxann. I’m so glad we met on Twitter, and that’s how a personal relationship begins.
Finding 100 buyers for your book is just the tip of the iceberg. Since the general statistics state only 1-3% are willing to purchase a book from or by you, that means you need to have at a minimum 1000 ‘personal’ friends, family members, co-workers, local townspeople, public figures, etc. who know you are a writer, support what you’re doing and will actually fork over $17-$30 to buy a hardback book (if you publish traditionally). And those 100 need to be people who will tell at least another 50-100 people about you and your book, and recommend both highly. That assumes that the original 100 will read your book and actually like it enough to tell others too. When I say telling others, that might include writing a book review on Amazon.com, for instance. It also might include tweeting about you and your book too.
When I ask writers to get serious about making this list, they have to admit that even their closest family members probably won’t buy their book. So you’ll have to dig deep and go wide to come up with a true list of 100. And that’s only a starting place. Again, 1000-5000 real buyers that you know would buy your book is where you want to get to over time.
People buy from those they know, like and trust. People buy based on recommendations from people they know, like and trust.
So any networking efforts should be targeted at building a list of “loyal” followers who get to know you, develop a fondness for you, and trust you because you’re an authority on something, or stand for something tangible as a personality.
For those suffering from Tweet non-exposure, try a mix of tweets. Post 10-20 times a day. That’s approximately 1-2 tweets per hour. Use software such as SocialOomph, HootSuite, or TweetDeck to preschedule tweets to go out 24/7 since your prospective audience may live in a different part of the world (for instance, I have a lot of Japanese and UK followers).
The mix of tweets should be something like this:
Tweet directly using their @name to at least 25 people today, corresponding with them in-depth, about them, their life, their kids – whatever they’re tweeting about, respond to their tweets. Go for at least 3-6 exchanges with these 25 people.
Tomorrow, tweet with 1/2 of the original 25, and add 12 more people to add up to 25 people to correspond with again. Repeat that cycle daily. One-half from previous day combined with one-half new people (from your follower/following lists).
Another way to look at how you tweet is by % of all your tweets:
1. Direct approx. 40% of your tweets at specific follower/following ‘friends,’ asking about something they tweeted (vs. a generic “how are you” or “what are you working on”) – become genuinely interested in what other people are doing – when you’re consistent, soon they will be genuinely interested in (and supportive of) you too.
Remember, you’re building relationships here, not just a list of followers. Lists are worthless unless these people genuinely engage with you. Give them a reason to know you, like you and trust you.
2. approx. 5-10% RTs - retweet helpful writerly information tweeted by group above in #1.
3. approx. 5-10% RTs – retweet other useful links about reading, books, publishing, writing, craft, etc. from subject matter experts and authorities you follow – people in the biz – agents, , mentors, editors, writing teachers, publishers, internet marketers, publications.
4. approx.10-20% your own content – writing quotations, tips and how-to about the craft of writing you find in books, articles or other resources. Include recommendations by your teachers, editors, mentors, and anything that’s about you and your writing/publishing adventure.
5. approx. 10-20% about your personal life experiences, comments on world events, your hobbies, etc. keeping everything mostly upbeat even when you complain – people are put off by “Debbie Downers” and you lose that know/like/trust factor quickly. It’s okay to share about yourself – that’s keeping it real.
Notice the order of the list above. 1, 2, 3 is all about other people, not about you. To be genuinely interested in other people, that means putting them first.
Work with this mix over time. Observe what some of the people in the industry do. Follow other authors, big name authors, people whom you respect. Watch what they do. If it seems to be working for them, emulate their success.
And finally, be ever so gracious and grateful to everyone you meet on the web, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest. Networking is all about connecting.
Continue to build relationships and you’ll soon realize you have a wealth of people who are eager to be your first edition book buyers too.
Editor and Coach for Writers Debra Marrs offers writing how-to tips and advice at YourWriteLife.com (http://www.yourwritelife.com) You can exchange tweets with her @DebraMarrs
Connect with her elsewhere:
On Facebook http://www.facebook.com/debramarrs
On LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/debramarrs
On Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/debramarrs