In this blog series, I've been focussing on a marketing topic which applies specifically to authors: what NOT to do when you're about to launch a new book. If you'd like to read the previous posts in the series, click here.
Rule #4: Only friending people so you can ask them to buy your book
The single best way to sell books is to make a personal connection with potential readers. When people feel they know you, they're more likely to want to read your book. That said, there are two conditions to this:
They need to read your kind of books (Refer back to my first blog post in this series for the reasons why) so making friends with a whole lot of non-reading zoo keepers because your book is set in a zoo isn't going to help you much!
They need to really know you. As I've said in previous posts, people aren't stupid. They know when they're being manipulated, and very few people enjoy that.
Imagine this real life example:
You're at a party, where you are introduced to someone new for the first time. Now imagine yourself going up to that person half an hour later and asking him or her for R100 petrol money to get you home. Would you do it? If the answer is "yes, without thinking twice" then this series of blog posts might not be for you. However, if your answer is "of course not!" then why would you do it online?
However, imagine you've met this person a few times. You've had some lovely in-depth discussions about life and books and everything in between over a shared bottle of pinot grigio. Would you now ask that person to help you out with R100, and would they agree? If the answer is yes, then that gives you an indication of what you need to do online when making a new friend before you jump in and say "buy my book! Like my page! Sign up for my newsletter!"
Most social media sites offer users the chance to set up automated responses to friend requests. You might decide that saying "click this link to buy my books" is a bit rude, so instead you ask them to like your fan page or subscribe to your newsletter instead. That's not hard sell, right?
Actually, it is. Because you are still asking someone to do something for you, to invest time and effort for you, when they have no reason yet to be invested.
So what CAN you do to build a support network of friends? Here are my tips:
Give value - like or comment on their posts. Pay attention to THEM first.
Avoid soulless automated responses. Rather send them a private message saying 'thanks for connecting with me.'
Be genuine. Find common ground and connect over that first. Share that virtual glass of pinot grigio. Give them a reason to be invested in you and your success.
Be less obvious about how you sell to them. It's awkward to have someone contact you directly asking for money. Far less awkward if that request is made in the form of a generic post to all your friends ("I'm so excited - my book went on sale today!") because it allows your friends to opt in and opt out. People respond much more willingly if they are given a choice!
Pay it forward. For every request you make of your friends, family, online connections, ensure that you give at least twice as much back. Yes, it's hard work. No, it doesn't happen overnight. But the rewards will be far, far greater.
And if all of that sounds too much like hard work, then don't go around friending people just to sell to them. Stick to your own small group. Because 2 people who really love and support you are better than ten people who immediately regret friending you!