Your support network. Becoming a successful author.
One thing I can say is: don’t count on your friends !
The only person you can and should count on is YOU.
Family & Friends
When my first book was published in 2011 I assumed that all of my seven siblings and most of my dozens of friends would support me by buying a copy. To me that seemed obvious. I do not think I am deluding myself when I say that I am certain that if one of my sisters had a book published, I would immediately buy a copy – regardless of what it was about.
And I am pretty certain I would buy a friend’s book too. I really do think I would. And I would get it signed and then perhaps sell it on the Antique’s Road Show in 500 years’ time.
When she heard that I had had a couple of books published, my friend Lucy exclaimed “we’ll all buy them!” In fact, she hasn’t bought even one.
I had to practically hold a gun to my elder sister’s head to get her to buy my book. She whined “but I don’t read much …” to which I replied “you don’t have to actually read it!” He he. The point that she would be simply supporting me didn’t seem to enter her head.
Perhaps people just don’t get it ?
I became extremely angry and upset when this same sister, after I had had three more books published (none of which she bought) went to considerable lengths to promote a book written by one of her friends. When I challenged her about this she replied: “but he is dying of cancer, and also the book is mostly about me!”
So, the solution to getting support from friends and family, if I have understood correctly, is that you need to be dying of cancer and the book needs to be about my sister.
Don’t be a bore.
On a less flippant note, there is a very delicate line between asking for support from the people around you and simply being a bore. It is important to come over as successful or people will assume the book is no good, a “failure”. It is crucial to not beg or seem to be over-keen, let alone desperate, in any way. Yet their support can tip the scales for you.
Apart from with that one sister, I have managed to keep my irritation and disappointment to myself. I will add, however, that some friends and my eldest brother have been brilliant, not only buying all my books but writing great reviews too.
As is so often the way, unless you have “been there” you really just don’t understand how it all works. Perhaps all my friends just assumed that some great publisher somewhere had handed me a nice big cheque ? I wish ! I used to have my own little estate agency, here in France where I spend much of my time, and my clients seemed to think that I was paid by a magician in the sky or something, and thought nothing of getting me to spend the whole day driving them around just on the off-chance they would buy. The difference there was that when I did make a sale I picked up a huge commission, so it was worth it … usually!
The 1% rule.
So, who are our best supporters ? I’d hesitate to count how many friends I’ve got, but suffice to say that I belong to a variety of groups and clubs, and I know zillions of people. I’m afraid the 1% rule applies to friends too. Just 1% will buy your books, perhaps a tad more.
I work on a 1% basis, and I think it is about right. For every 100 tweets I tweet (twit?) 1% will take note of it. Of that 1% a further 1% will click on the link which in turn will lead to 1% of them who will look at my profile. Of that 1% just 1% will be interested in buying a book. No, it doesn’t end there, because there is then a further 1% in that last lot who will actually really buy a book. That means I need at least 600 followers before I stand a chance of selling one solitary book.
It is a numbers game. A numbers game with a twist because all your tweets, Facebook entries and so on need to be angled at who you are and what you do without actually shouting BUY MY BOOK ! I have a second string to my bow because I own and run a French cottage holiday business, so in some ways I have a captive audience (so to speak) – but the 1% rule still applies. For every 100 adults – no, for every 100 female adults, who come on holiday to one of my places in France only 1% will be interested in buying a book and of that 1% only a further 1% will actually do it.
(Goodness, all this 1% is making me dizzy!)
You are the best person to support and encourage YOU.
My conclusion, then, is that you are your own best supporter. There is nobody out there who will recognize you as a writer unless you tell them. Although many friends may wish you well, and some will be jealous, and some will buy, (and many will intend to buy but just don’t get round to it) mostly you are not on their minds and they seriously have no idea – no idea at all – how important it is to you.
How to build up your 1% s.
- Contact your local paper and tell them about yourself. Most half-way decent ‘papers will publish a little something. Remember the 1% rule – people buying a copy of the ‘paper, people seeing the item about you, people interested by it and then people acting on it
- Do not be afraid to ask for reviews: if you know somebody who has bought a copy, do ask them for a review. That in itself will trigger more readers on to you 1% platform
- Without being spammy shout out that you are an author. Is there something else you can shout out about to dilute it a bit? For example, I have my holiday business and I also enjoy water-colour sketching. My web site is as much about my sketches or my properties as my books … and I don’t sell the sketches. They attract people to my web site
- Terribly tedious sometimes, but post your stuff (whether an extract from your book, photos of your holiday, anecdotes about the children, a picture of some embroidery you are doing) on as many web sites as you can. They must all have a link back to your web site and/or Facebook page.
- It can be awkward giving your card to people. But look at it like this: if you do not give your card, they will not know you are a writer and there is 0% possibility of them buying your book. If you do give your card 1 in every 100 that you give will be looked at, and a further 1 in every 100 that get looked at will trigger a purchase.
- The message you put over needs to be firm: you want my book, you are interested in what I am writing (blogs etc), you will like me on Facebook, you will follow me on Twitter … in such a way that you are not pushy. Use humour perhaps ? Find an element that you can use to help you with your promotions, as I do with my sketches and French properties.
- Never say you haven’t got time. We all find time to do what we really want to do. So do you want success or don’t you ?
- And finally, remember that you are the person in charge. Nobody else will promote you the way you can (even before you get published). And out there nobody will know how brilliant you are unless you tell them.
Catherine Broughton is the author of nine books, available from Amazon and most usual sources. More about her on turquoisemoon.co.uk