As business people, authors are challenged by the fact that we write alone. Even though we have busy lives, full-time jobs, or families, as an author we can get pretty isolated. In order to expand our horizons and build our business, there are two events authors need on the calendar: networking events and reader events.
Build Your Friendship Circle
When it comes to networking, you have two options: remote and in-person. I think we need a mix of the two. Networking face-to-face is a challenge for the introverts among us, so start small if that’s you. Find local writer groups or book clubs. Attend other author’s events at local libraries and bookstores. Introduce yourself. If it is appropriate, share your contact information and offer to meet for coffee or lunch. Developing comradery gives you confidence. But it’s okay to take baby steps.
There will also be opportunities, budget willing, to attend author conferences and workshops. Depending on your genre, there may be some within driving distance. Check to see if your genre has an association and consider joining. Many have local or state events you can attend. Get involved. Even if you cannot attend events, you can get involved remotely by joining author forum circles, keeping up on association news, and taking advantage of classes or workshops offered online.
Also consider a general writing conference. Again, start with your genre. If your budget stretches, you may be able to travel on occasion. Don’t miss the opportunity to network at a conference by hiding in your hotel room. Look at the conference schedule for meet-ups you can attend. If there are other authors there you’d like to meet, reach out via email and see if they time for coffee or lunch.
It’s All About the Readers
The other type of event you need to attend strikes fear into many hearts: meet your readers. Many creative dread meeting fans—it is a natural and completely legitimate feeling. Meeting readers in person is an important part of KLT Factor (Know, Like Trust). When readers get to know you and like you through your books, your social media, and your emails, then they will start to trust you. Trust leads to loyalty and loyalty leads to two critical business accelerators: word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat sales.
Live reader events can accelerate the KLT Factor significantly. You may do a bang-up job of engaging readers via email and social media, but when they meet you face-to-face, that seals the deal. You have a friend for life. To get your courage up and see how it’s done, attend other authors’ events. If you go to a conference and there is a book signing, go through the line. Watch how others do it and then emulate.
Bookstores and More
You may have a local bookstore that sponsors “meet the author” events. Get to know the owner. Attend other events there. Buy books there. Become a part of their community. When the time is right, a recent book launch, perhaps, approach the owner to do a live event. You may want to sweeten the deal by offering some free paperback copies for signing or work a deal to provide them copies at a discounted price they can sell.
If meeting readers gives you a queasy stomach, start small. Maybe share an event with a few other authors at the local library. If you’re a true introvert, I recommend reading The Art of Shouting Quietly by Pete Mosley—a wonderful book about self promotion for introverts.
Whether you like pressing the flesh or hiding in your office and connecting on the computer, it’s important you get out there. Building that KLT Factor begins with the first step.
*thanks to Emily Crume at Social Media Examiner for the tip on the KLT Factor