Donna Galanti is BACK, people! She’s here to day to give some very thorough tips on connecting with other authors and building a community of writers before a book’s release. Get ready to hit that “Bookmark” button, because there’s some truly helpful stuff here :).
As writers, the rejection never ends with queries, book proposals, editor notes, or bad reviews. But there is a key to creating and sustaining an author life while surviving endless rejection: build a support community. We can write alone, but it’s very hard to get published (or succeed) alone.
To enhance success, we can build the foundation before we’re published, just like the railway built to connect Vienna and Venice. It was built before any train could travel up such a steep grade. A feat of civil engineering that took 20,000 people!
You won’t need 20,000 people, but you will need a few, along with these 3 steps:
Put Yourself Out There (Get Out of Your Writer’s Cave!)
As authors we get out of our comfort zone when we write, but we must also publicly get out of our comfort zone. Once your book releases, participate in conferences, panels, guest blogs, or school visits. Each YES will build your confidence and community connections.
How to start? Be active in genre-based writer organizations. Attend meetups and make friends with industry peers. Engage with co-author blogs. Follow and connect with authors you admire. Create a local writer’s group. I meet weekly with a writer’s group where we write and share advice. We are one brain collective with celebrated successes, partly through our connections.
- Create a business card to exchange at meetups so you can connect with others online.
- Volunteer within writer organizations for the opportunity to work with agents, editors, authors, and writers. My first volunteer role was doing social media for International Thriller Writers Organization. I’m now a contributing editor for their Big Thrill. Through this, I’ve befriended authors, many who’ve blurbed my books.
- Thinking you need to know what you’re doing before you say yes (saying YES will force you to learn and increase your confidence).
- Believing that veteran authors aren’t open to helping new authors (they were first-time authors once).
- Asking for advice or help before establishing a relationship (be patient—it’s a long-term gig).
- Adding new connections to groups without asking.
- Not mentioning how you met in your friend request.
Connect with Readers Before Your Book Comes Out!
Readers are your friends. Follow bloggers and book tubers in your genre. They’re a direct line to your readers. Build a connection with them so when your book releases they are first in line for your review request and are willing to say “Yes!”
How to start? Run a Google search for “book bloggers” plus your genre/age-range. This will give you a list of potential book bloggers to contact. To find ideal book reviewers, first identify any authors who write books similar to yours. Search the author’s name plus “review” to find reviewers who might be interested in your story.
- Connecting now with book bloggers improves your chances of getting best-fit reviewers later. Invite them to be interviewed on your blog. Organize them in a Twitter list to easily engage.
- Clean out your bookshelves and hold a book-grab Rafflecopter contest for books within your genre. Promote and provide extra entries if entrants follow you on social media, your blog, or newsletter, thereby increasing your best-fit reader audience.
- Connect with other debuts. Each year, debuts band together to help cross promote their books to readers. To find likely partners, search for “debut author” plus the year your book releases.
- Mass emailing book reviewers about your book (personalize each one)
- Not following the reviewer’s blog, not commenting on posts, and expecting them to buy your book.
- Not offering incentives along with your review request (they could accept a guest post/giveaway if not a review).
For more help, try: 5 Steps To Finding Your Ideal Book Audience
Position Yourself as an Expert (Share What You Know)
You may be saying, “I’m no expert,” but you are! You can talk about writing to writers by covering topics like good revision tips, sharing your publishing journey, and discussing the benefits of attending a conference. But also talk to your readership about fiction: where your ideas come from, creating characters, research, etc. Bonus: Giving a talk or being on someone else’s blog instantly positions you as an expert!
How to start? With all of those community connections you made in step #1! If a new contact loves to share quality content, invite them as a guest on your blog (I started my blog with writer/author interviews). With book bloggers, share a book excerpt and include a swag giveaway to gain pre-orders. Introduce yourself in person to your independent bookstore and offer them a free copy (or ARC) of your book to encourage them to carry it. Schedule a book launch with them, or pitch doing a workshop for readers or writers in-store. Gain speaking experience by asking your writer organization (and other local ones) if you can speak at their monthly meetings.
- For guest posts, pitch with your article idea and why it’s a good fit, your bio, and where you’ve blogged before. Ask an open-ended question at the end of your guest post to engage readers. Post your guest post links on your site for ‘evergreen’ content’. Re-share your guest posts if they contain timeless content. Create a “cheat sheet” of your posts/guest posts, schedule them on Twitter in rotation, and tag the blogger/guest in it. This extends goodwill, reinforcing your connection.
- To prepare for an in-person audience, take notes at other presentations you’ve attended. Did they have a handout, a PowerPoint presentation, or exercise? Was it quality information in a manageable chunk? Mimic what worked for you as an attendee so you can deliver your own passionate, quality presentation. Provide a survey to your audience, gather emails for your newsletter, and follow up with positive responses to request a testimonial.
- Not following the guidelines for the blog you’re guest posting on, not engaging in comments, not sharing on social media, and not thanking the host for having you on as a guest.
- Not gathering names and emails from your in-person audience to build your email list.
For more help, try: Need Online Exposure? Asking Bloggers For Help
Final words. Think “community” for everything you do as an author and it will strengthen and sustain your author foundation. Support the writers and readers you meet! Promote their books and their successes. In turn they will support, advise, and promote you – and help you overcome that next rejection lurking in the wings.
What has your experience been in building an author life? Do you have any tips for us? Have you had success in building a support community or are you still struggling? What’s the #1 thing you’d like to know about building an author life?
Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com. She can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.