It’s no surprise to anyone that word-of-mouth and networking plays a huge role in successful business ventures. That’s no different for the world of fiction, especially in a genre as small as ours, and it baffles me that there isn’t more networking going on in our industry. We have a wealth of potential contacts (not to mention potential friends) sitting all around us, and very few people are reaching out to encompass it. Call me a crazy Canadian, but… (okay, I actually am somewhat crazy and Canadian, but hear me out)
Most of us have heard the “Fifty Shades of” story. There were thousands of eggs already in that basket before E.L. James ever carried it to market, and it was the praise and support of those pre-existing eggs… err, I mean, fans that got James several boosts up a ladder that is very difficult to climb. Why? Because the writing was amazing? Because the story was just so unbelievably awesome? I’m not going to be one to pick apart another writer’s work—I’ll leave that to the critics—but I think it’s fair to say that the overall consensus is a firm no to both of those questions.
So what was it? That’s easy – it was James’ engagement and interaction that turned on so many of those initial fans. Everybody likes to be heard; everyone wants to be part of a community. And when individuals are made to feel like they are part of something, they tend to support those that do it. We are, no matter how much today’s lifestyles try to push us in the opposite direction, tribal people – even those folks that prefer to live on the remote outer edges of those tribes, in secluded dark caves away from the sunlight.
My point being, we’re all in this together. This crazy venture of writing fiction is not a solitary one and I don’t believe it should be viewed as one. We can make life easier and better for everybody if we all work together. In other words, let’s interact, shall we? Let’s engage each other. Now, more than ever, every one of us needs the support and praise of one another to keep our heads up. It will help. All we have to do is remember that we are a tribe, and if we stick together, and help each other, we’re all going to benefit.
Here are a few things I would love to see us, the writers and authors, bring into 2017 during those few, brief moments that we aren’t working, sleeping, eating, bathing, or fearfully watching the news:
Acknowledge the efforts that your readers make on your behalf. Like their comments. Say thank you when you can. Do little things, like wishing them a happy birthday or ♥ing the picture of their kid’s graduation when you scroll past it on Facebook. Reply back to their comments on your blog posts and virtual book tours. In other words, go an extra fourteen inches on that mile and let them know you appreciate what they’re doing for you. As authors, we are literally nothing without our readers.
Share your peers’ successes and celebrate their victories. This is what networking is all about. The more people you support, the more likely you are to have them support you back. You’ve probably seen what a good solid set of votes can do for sales and exposure on a Goodreads poll or a site’s best-of poll. Help the people in your circle succeed and they just might help you back.
On the other side of that scale, support the people that support you, for goodness sake!
Offer up intra-genre rewards where you can. See, there’s a reason that your Amazon gift certificate giveaway gets so many views and it’s not because the people jumping into the giveaway like your writing. It’s not even because they read this genre. It’s because an Amazon gift certificate can be used to buy everything from shoelaces to B12. They couldn’t care less about what you’re trying to sell, and rewards like that rarely do anything to bring you new customers.
Instead, engage the people that will actually buy your product, and support the industry at the same time by offering up rewards for your publisher’s site directly. If you’re a self-publisher try seeking out distributors that focus on our industry instead of mass-marketers, in other words, places where the books are as opposed to the places where the body wash is.
If you have one, take five minutes to tell your publisher thank you. They do all the work that you don’t want to, and it’s the kind of work that is time-consuming, frustrating, fussy, and heavy. Let’s face it, a publisher that knows you appreciate them is far more likely to go the extra mile now and again when you have something bizarre/terrible/confusing come up.
Last but not least, for the readers, if you really want to support and help a writer, leave a review. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or even coherent. This is very much the word-of-mouth that can skyrocket a writer to success, or have them drift aimlessly. We love you like crazy, and if you love us too, please let the rest of the world know.
Thanks for reading, and I wish you all a better and brighter 2017.
All my love,
AF Henley <3
About the Author
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.
A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012.
For more information and a list of Henley’s releases, please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com.