Developing Long-term Relationships for Constant Success

“How do I get people excited to buy my book?!”

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

If you have a book out there, or, if you have a book that will soon be released, I’m sure you’re asking yourself this over and over.

We’ve all been there. In March I wrote an article here at Indies Unlimited on having others promote your book—how to get reviews. In the post, I even offered you my spreadsheet of blogger reviewers and all my little notes and results. Many of you took me up on that request. I hope you were able to make sense out of it. The offer still stands—if you want it, contact me and I’ll get it to you. I still believe that this is a viable option for marketing your book.

Today, I say, “Whoa, Nellie.”

That March post was good and right on the money—IF you are looking to find the short-term answer to a long-term problem. You see, there is no “one-way” to do anything. In our world of self-publishing and indie writing, we have to incorporate some sprint training (the former post) into our marathon training—today’s message. Stay with me until the end where I’ll give you a step by step plan.

Let me ask you this, if you had the three options below, which would you choose?

A.)  A feature and review in the USA Today or *insert newspaper of choice*

B.)  A Guest Post that you wrote on a blog with a following of 10,000 rabid followers.

C.)  A two to three minute segment on either a national or local primetime show featuring your book.

While I wouldn’t turn down A or C, “B” is what will bring in the sales.

We live in a different world today. Mass marketing and traditional methods of advertising are a dying breed. One huge advantage over traditional media for bloggers is the ability to turn interest into a click. You can have a great spot on Ellen, but the viewer has to write down/try-to-remember-for-later, the product with little chance of converting that into a sale. On a blog it’s click … click, “Ooh—I just made a purchase!”

We have undergone a paradigm shift. It used to be that you sent your message out and HOPED people needed and wanted the thing you have. Now you send your message out to the populace that you KNOW need and want what you have. This is what mainstream media hasn’t figured out yet. They are paying for large numbers of impressions (to use the Facebook terminology) where a small percentage is taking action. In today’s marketplace, there are so many choices, that if it is not personalized to us, we move on.

The blogger may have a much smaller number of impressions, but those impressions (fans) are passionate and devoted to the site. Just like you guys out there in the Indies Unlimited world … okay, so we’re still working on that aspect. But, that’s the power of a blog with a following. Right now, you’re saying, “But, Jim, how do we get that guy to let us Guest Post?”

Glad you asked. First off, you have to find out who they are. It doesn’t matter what your book is about, I promise you there is someone out there that has a passionate following about your topic or message. Search the sites, look at Technorati, use hashtags on Twitter to find out who the players are in your area of interest. Go to Google Custom Search Blog to see who’s blogging about your topic.

Next, you must accept that this is a marathon. You must form a relationship with that person. This is not a process for results in weeks. This is for those who are serious about a writing career. This will get you results—in years.

What? You don’t have years? Oh, I forgot, you were going to get rich off your debut novel and retire on a beach somewhere. Who in their right mind (me) would EVER think that.  Your first novel is never going to be your best stuff no matter how awesome it is. Start building those relationships for your next book and the one after that.

Back to the question, how do we go about building a relationship with someone in cyberspace? Here’s a stepwise program to accomplish that objective.

1. Long-term approach – add value over time.

2. Leave thoughtful comments on their blog, not just “great article.” Make sure you are pulling specific points from the body of the post and commenting on them. Let the author know that you really read the post and you’re not just commenting for attention sake.

3. After you’ve established a presence (over a period of time, not just a single comment), email them directly with content about their post. You could send them another post or article that was written about the same topic with a different opinion. Your message should be one of, “I’d like your opinion on what they’re saying.” You’re not challenging his position, but showing that you’ve paid attention and are really into what they are talking about. The key is, you are not selling or asking for anything. Remember to compliment them on their blog.

4. Once you’ve established a dialogue, you can ask them if they would have a minute for you. This is your chance to introduce your brand and ask for advice. Keep them in the trusted advisor role. Ask if they think their audience might be interested in your topic/product/insights.

5. Don’t get frustrated if you’re rejected. Keep adding thoughtful comments and stay engage. That will mean a ton to the trusted advisor and he’ll ultimately may come around.

6. If you are lucky enough to get to a conference or event, engage with bloggers. Ask them about their interests, how they got started, what excites them about their craft. Don’t sell your book, develop the relationship without strings attached.

I know this is a tough, long road to the Promised Land. However, it is necessary for long-term sustained success. The reality is—most people won’t do what it takes. Do you have what it takes to be a professional writer? Are you willing to get serious about your career?

This process isn’t stand-alone. In conjunction with your other marketing efforts, you can plant your seeds for the long-term. You may look up to someone that has great success and say, “Why not me?”

It can be you, with a well thought out plan to cultivate relationships.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

22 thoughts on “Developing Long-term Relationships for Constant Success”

  1. Hi Jim,

    Wonderful advice. I did have #1 on your beginning post happen to me and my book, but I would have chosen #2 because there was no way to track if I received any sales from that great review and post on USA today's Happy Ever After Blog. It was a great and wonderful surprise and I was thrilled about it showing up there.

    My problem is finding things to write about on my blog, let alone someone else's. I don't know how you guys keep coming up with stuff, lol. Thank you for the tips.

    1. Every blogger has different ways of coming up with ideas for blogs but I think the one thing we all have in common is a desire to express /ourselves/. In many ways it's not that different to writing a novel that contains snippets of your own world view and philosophies on life.

      Posts don't have to be all about your book[s]. Write about the things that make you smile, or grind your teeth in rage. So long as the emotions that come through are genuine people will want to read your posts. And when you are feeling as flat as pancake you can always try writing about food. Oops…I've just given my secret away 😉

    2. Thanks Jacqueline,

      Great to hear about your successes. It’s amazing what people are attracted to in your blog. My most viewed posts were a total surprise to me.

      Just like in your books, give people a glimpse of places they haven’t gone, things they haven’t done. Let them live vicariously through you. I’m sure you have many experiences that you could share.

      Thanks again for the support.

  2. I must start bookmarking your posts, Jim. And you're right…this business is for the long haul. At times I've gotten overeager and anxious, thinking I only had this ONE shot to make a connection. Flipping it around, would I want a total stranger to rush up to me on the street and shove a copy of her book in my face? Hells, no. Buy me coffee first, and we'll talk. Thank you for the great, practical info.

  3. Absolutely. Thanks for saying this, Jim. "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon"… and besides, the long haul approach means you get to meet so many interesting and cool people along the way. It's so worth it.

  4. Great article!

    No, but seriously, thanks for the good advice. The problem, I find, is how much time this marketing soaks up. If you have a full-time job and young family, then these activities (as pleasurable as they are) are going to come off of your writing time. In my experience you can either have enough time to do blog posts and form cyber-relationships, or write, but not both. I think we could all do with another 12 hours in the day!

    1. Right you are Chris,

      I have a full time job and and 4 year old with another one one coming in 3 weeks! So I get what you're saying. I guess part of what I'm saying is, we have to resign ourselves to the long term goals associated with our passion.

      Just over a year ago, when I published, The Card, I thought by this time I'd be selling 3,000 copies a month and releasing my next in the series. How naive I was. I've learned a lot about this industry in a short time and I am now on a 3-5 year plan for making writing my full time job.

      This process doesn't have to be an extreme time waster. The key is to find the blogger out there with the audience that you are trying to attract. Then, focus on those one or two blogs.

      It boils down to how bad do we want it. As I said above, most people won't do the hard stuff that is necessary to succeed. That's why it is so special when you do. Keep plugging away at it and enjoy your family. Don't forget what is most important in your life.

  5. Another great post Jim and I’d like to add a couple of anecdotes to the long haul theory.

    Just a few days ago one of the bloggers I follow – Alex Laybourne – posted that someone he’d spoken to months ago just contacted him and now he [Alex] has been offered a publishing deal. Another dear friend – Lord David Prosser – bought something on ebay and when he contacted the seller on a technical question the seller came back with something like ‘Oh are you /that/ Lord David? I’ve read your book and loved it.’

    So settling in for the long haul really does work in a way that no amount of spamming on Twitter can ever match.

  6. Good article, Jim, and since going Indi I have been really working at the long haul, and just in the way you describe, but you’re right too, Chris: it does soak up a lot of time.

    With most of my life devoted to writing now, while doing about half a day per week as a trainer/assessor (various subjects); I still find that the promotional/networking stuff seems to eat up a lot of it. In fact I have to be very disciplined to get any writing done.

  7. Hi Jim,

    I just wanted to let you know tomoson.com isn't accepting any form of digital material. If you want a review it has to be in paperback or hc form sent directly to the blogger. They obviously had a virus. I spent days back and forth and just received an email. I wanted to save anyone else the headache. If I hear differently, I'll post it.

    Thanks for all your hard work. Any bites from bloggerdise?

    Aron Joice

    1. Thanks for the update Aron,

      One of the advantages of Tomoson was the fact that you could post it as ebook only, I guess that isn't the case anymore. I hope they can get that figured out.

      No real bites from bloggerdise yet, just the usual spammers. I'll keep trying, I posted up on there but haven't worked it yet. Thanks for all your input!

  8. Very nice post, Jim. I went into being an Indie author knowing it was about the long haul – but of course there are times when I feel like one of my kids in the backseat, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

    Your article was very reassuring to me though. Still being new to the game, I often worry that I'm not headed in the right direction, or that the approach of my marketing plan is wrong. But I'm very happy to read that many of the things you've mentioned, I can check off my list as the right steps to take for long haul success (move over Nora Roberts, I'm on the way!). I have used the time with promoting my debut novel as a chance to build relationships with other bloggers/reviewers, and now have a nice little network to help promote my second novel. And I've found that if you blog, and you're dedicated to it, the readers will come – and stay.

    And if I may add, I think one of the best things too is to approach this journey as a business venture – because it is – and try to treat it as such. While being a mom and wife (and life in general) can easily get in the way, I schedule my days as if I'm going to work. Even though I'm in my living room. It helps me to stay focused, and to approach it with a more business minded attitude.

    Again, great article, thanks for posting it!

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