When Book Marketing, Start With Relationships


During recruiting season on college campuses, a common tossed around phrase from candidate to candidate is, “It’s not about what you know, it’s all about who you know.”

While I’m not 100% on board with that statement, I can say that every internship I had in the three college summers up to senior year came from someone I knew. One time I didn’t need to interview to get the job—what a relief.

So how does this apply to book marketing? Glad you asked. Because the same principle about “who you know” applies to authors.

Your personal relationships and network can unlock far more and bigger doors than you could do on your own. That’s why when you’re book marketing, the most results-drive move is to build relationships with influencers.

Why Influencers Are Powerful

To understand the power of relationships, let’s first consider your situation as an author without them.

You may have a blog where you’re trying to grow your traffic and email subscribers. As you post new content, your audience is growing slowly but surely. Maybe you’re doing well and gain two new subscribers each day.

Then when you write your book and aim to sell it, you promote it to your audience of 500 people. These 500 people are quality, targeted leads that are likely to buy your book if it’s a solution they want.

On the other hand, say you previously built a personal relationship with Blogger A, Blogger B, and Blogger C in the same niche. Assuming you gave them value first (the essential beginning step), you ask them to promote your book to their list.

Blogger A—with an email list of 8,000 people—and Blogger C—with an email list of 26,000—agree to it. These two influencers promote a link to your book and give you a good word to their loyal fans.

Since their subscribers trust them (or they wouldn’t be on their list), you just got your book and a good testimonial in front of 34,000 more people. That’s enough to take you to #1 on the charts.

It’s like when the most popular guy at the party brings you into his circle and says, “Meet my friend. He’s cool. You should see what he does.” Rather than spend your time networking one by one, the most popular guy made it easy for everyone to check you out.

And that book marketing example is from only building relationships with three influencers, where two agree to help. What if you have 10 or more influencers you could call on to support your book launch? Or what if someone you build a relationship with has 100,000+ email subscribers? Jackpot.

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re not used to reaching out to players in your niche, it can feel weird and uncomfortable at first. But so did walking when you were a baby and learning to drive. Over time, if you stick with it, building personal relationships becomes a habit.

Here’s what I focus on to connect to influencers:

  1. Give value to the other person first. Give, give, give, and then receive is the recipe, not the other way around.
  2. Do your research on them to find a connection. When you find something you have in common, you’ll have an emotional connection between you two to lean on. For example, did you attend the same college? Is he or she a huge Yankees fan? Use that info to be personal and relate to them.
  3. Be concise in communication. There’s nothing worse than a busy person opening up a long email that could go as an ebook. Or reading something they don’t know what to do with. Be clear, concise, and specific with your request.
  4. Come prepared if given an opportunity. Say they do pitch your book to their audience, give you a guest post, or invite you on their podcast. With this opportunity, you absolutely have to come prepared. And since these influencers are busy, don’t make them do extra work to help you.

Some other actions you can take to build a relationship:

  • Leave insightful comments on bloggers’ articles
  • Interview them for a blog post on your site
  • Do a case study of how you found success with their advice
  • Engage in their social media discussions
  • Attend author conferences

Once you go forward to put yourself out there, building relationships will get easier over time. You’ll not only be more comfortable, but also more socially adept.

And the results of your personal network will continue to pile up. There’s no doubt about it.

Final Words

While this article focused on online relationships for the most part, don’t forget about meeting people for coffee or lunch.

If you’re fortunate to live in the same city as someone you’d like to get to know better, take the risk of asking them to meet up. In-person meetings allow the relationship to become more personal and develop quicker than any email or phone call.

Or if you have the time, organize a meetup for your subscribers to meet you in person. That’s a quick way to win fans for life.

Maybe one day when you’re a megastar author you can market your book all on your own. But for now, enlisting the help of other people is the best strategy you got to sell your book and build your brand.

How much do you focus on building professional relationships currently? Is it easy or hard for you, and why? Please comment below with your thoughts or questions.

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