By Natalie Bright
The business side of publishing and promoting your work is not much different than any other industry. Networking with business colleagues and potential clients has been going on for centuries, whether it be in the local pub or the downtown martini bar.
For writers social media has changed the dynamics of how we can publicize our stories to readers. Just like through the centuries, building a viable network takes time. Consider marketing and promotion as a marathon. In addition to sitting behind your computer, think about putting yourself out there as well.
Connections that Last
Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas, has always maintained a strong local fan base during her 25 year career. Her local autographings in the Texas Panhandle are well attended, with long lines of eager fans. I met a librarian at one of these events who remembers Jodi speaking to their small club over ten years ago. Many years later she happened to be browsing through a bookstore and saw a display with books by Jodi Thomas. Now retired and with plenty of time to read, she bought a copy of every book and has been a loyal fan ever since. She says, “Even though we were a small group and Jodi Thomas was a New York Times Bestselling author, it was like we were her best friends. She was so gracious and kind, and gave a very professional and interesting talk.” It’s that one to one relationship with her fans that Jodi excels at, and it’s served her well through the years.
That lady’s enthusiasm got me to thinking about making connections that last. Sometimes we may not ever realize the connections we’ve made or the people we’ll meet, and how it might lead to something else many years down the road.
Building Bridges by Volunteering
I’ve volunteered at our local museum for close to 20 years as a docent. I joined the museum auxiliary when I was in college, even before I had kids, because I love history. Through my participation, I’ve talked to countless numbers of kids and teachers and parents while conducting school tours. I’ve met so many wonderful people from all over the world while guiding them through the exhibits and talking about the Texas Panhandle. After I became an author, and my articles began appearing in local publications, those same teachers have invited me to speak in their classrooms. I think these connections have served me well.
It’s A Book Fair!
I also enjoy participating in book events. Table fees and travel expense can be shared with other authors. One such event was a first ever library sponsored community book fair resulting in only one person coming to my talk. I also sold one book. The day wasn’t a waste however, because I met countless teachers, school librarians, interesting book lovers, and one lady who is in the process of opening a bookstore. From that one event, I’ve already received two speaking invitations.
So get yourself out there and smile. You just never know where those simple connections might lead down the road.