Writing is an isolated activity. Book marketing is a social activity. Networking is a necessary evil for all authors. If you think you have reached the status of J.K. Rowling whose every book is lapped up the moment it gets published, this piece is a waste of time. Move on and do something better. Else, read this piece to know ways to maximize your author brand and book sales. Recent studies have shown that book buyers have to be exposed to an author/book’s name at least six times. Only then a name/book title gets imprinted in their minds.
As such one needs to try out different tactics for selling more books. Tap into your experience as a book buyer. Would you choose to buy an unfamiliar book written by a known author or go for an obscure book written by an unknown author? Does word of mouth affect your experience as a book buyer? Do you look at lists recommended by book bloggers and book reviewing sites?
Book bloggers: Every blogger has a unique audience. When it comes to book marketing, there is no such thing as too much of publicity. With different search engines throwing up different results, it helps to get the word about your book to as many people as you can.
Librarians: Librarians of public, private and school librarians always love connecting with children authors. They help you source books for research and guide you to the right places and people who can help you with research and book promotion. Also, librarians are always looking for resource people to conduct workshops for their library members. These workshops will not only get you supplementary income but also build a bond with your present and future readers. Some of these workshops may be unpaid but they are still worth it because libraries can give access to existing and potential book buyers in their member database. Some of them may even promote your program in social media and familiarize your name with a large audience.
Distributors: They keep you updated on the new arrivals in every genre. They also give you information about book fairs and author friendly schools which invite authors and conduct literary events. Since distributors are connected with bookstore owners, school and private librarians, they can give you leads to places for promoting your books. Once you have formed a bond with a distributor, they will go out of the way, stock and promote your books. This is particularly helpful if you are self published or have your book released by a small publisher.
Bookstore owners: Apart from offering free space to conduct book launches, they give you inside information about industry trends, alert you about new publishers and authors. Sometimes they even offer you an exclusive peek into sales of books.
Illustrators: If you are working on picture books, illustrators can be of great help in giving feedback on your manuscripts. They also let you know about the movement of editors in publishing houses. This information is particularly helpful when your manuscript is stuck with a publisher for months without any response. In rare cases, they can also help you to get a rejected manuscript accepted by a publisher.
Parents: Parents are potential book buyers. They are also part of many social groups which are potential platforms to promote your books. Be it creating awareness about your new books, events or workshops, parents come in handy.
Authors: Authors can connect you with all the above professionals and expand your friend circle. Besides,its always nice to talk to someone who has been through the same experience of publishing,writer’s block and rejections.
Do remember, networking is never a one way street.It will never give results overnight.Relationships have to be nurtured.One has to learn to give time and efforts before taking something from others.In today’s busy world, it may not be possible to meet every one you are connected with.Social media comes in great handy.It also helps to write an email or send a message when festivals are around. As always write a great book. All the networking cannot save a shoddy book. People don’t like to extend their support to a badly written book. Sometimes it may take years to reap benefits of networking.Nevertheless persist and enjoy the process of meeting new people.
“Everyone you ever meet will know something you don’t.”
– Bill Nye
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About Shyamala Shanmugasundaram
Shyamala Shanmugasundaram is a children’s author, freelance writer and chief Ideator of Kataba.Her written works have been published by Alka Publications, Children’s Book Trust (CBT), National Book trust (NBT), Rupa & Co, Pratham Books, DNA and The Hindu Newspapers.