Developing a strong networking system with reliable contacts is the key to any marketing plan – yet one of the most difficult and time consuming tasks that an author will face. While it is true that a contact list can take years to develop, if done correctly you will have a team of individuals across the globe who are hungry for news about you and who volunteer to share information about your work through their circles.
How does one go about creating a contact list?
First you must decide whom you wish to work with and that requires much thought on key words to use in your searches and feeling out the industry to see where your work fits in. Once you have these initial steps done, you can begin approaching people that have a similar audience. But don’t just start sending query letters in a willy-nilly fashion. Really think about how this particular outlet could help you, who their audience is and how you can provide interesting tools or material for them. This will get the attention of the owner/editor of the outlet, however to really build a relationship you need to offer something – usually something greater or equal to what you are hoping to get from them.
When I approach a media outlet of any kind or an organization I want to network with I consider what their audience will get out of it AND let them know how I intend to drive traffic their way. For instance, I would mention that I will promote the event to my contacts via social networking sites, the Brummet’s monthly newsletter, our Conscious Discussions Blog, our radio shows, websites, forums, Book Tour site, etc.
Remember to keep your initial query email as brief as possible and don’t send along attachments. Write a paragraph or two and close with your signature and website address. Most magazine editors, for instance, give a letter less than ten seconds perusal and if it doesn’t catch their attention it is trashed. So be brief, concise and make sure that you offer your main website address where ALL your information should be available. This way, all they have to do is click to find out more about you – rather than reading a huge email with pages attached.
Contact lists can be used again and again…
My contact list did not get as strong as it is without a lot of effort, patience and time. You see, simply getting exposure with an organization’s newsletter (as an example) is not enough. That is just one little achievement. In my experience, the real bonus comes in over the next few years as you continually touch base with your list of contacts offering them new articles, new content, new resources, and so on. As the years go by I might use their websites or publications as resources in upcoming articles, I might mention their achievements or help promote their events through my blog or radio show.
Yet, just mentioning them is not enough–you have to let them know about your efforts to promote their work too. So send a little note via email notifying them of the exposure you have given them with a closing comment about how much you appreciate their work, or their support of you. This creates a working relationship with your contacts and pretty soon they are recommending guests for your radio show, resources for your blog, sending you websites that might increase publicity for your work and so on. Perhaps the contacts you have will suggest exchanging promotional materials, they may invite you to a variety of events or ask you to supply an article… (like the one you are reading today) - the opportunities here are endless.
NOW you have a working relationship with your contact list that you can continually refer to for the rest of your career. The key to any marketing plan is developing relationships – a strong support system like this can be relied on for the duration of your career. People you met 10 years ago will be there for you in the future… and this is an encouraging feeling for an author who’s trying to stand out like a purple snowflake in a snowstorm of other authors.
~ Lillian Brummet: book reviewer – Author of the books Trash Talk, Purple Snowflake Marketing, and Towards Understanding; Host of both the Conscious Discussions talk radio show and Authors Read radio program (www.brummet.ca)