Help Your Network Help Your Book Sales

Guest Post by Peter Prichard

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What follows are five steps you can take to help your network increase your book sales.   I used every one of the five steps in this article in the marketing of my book “Have a Positive Impact During Uncertain Times” which led to it being classified an Amazon International #1 Best Seller.

Your “Book Marketing Team” will be made up initially of members of your immediate network and will expand as you connect with different people to finally become a network of multiple people who you did not know when you started this process.  Your “Book Marketing Team” will help your book sales, whether you are in the process of planning to launch your independent author bookselling campaign or have published previously and want to re-energize your book sales.

#1. Create a list of everyone you know.  The most important initial action you can take to increase your book sales through interaction with your network is to create an extensive list of everyone you know.  This activity has become a lot easier because of the lists of contacts that you have on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sources.  You might also add to the list from a contact list, excel spreadsheet or personalized phone directory you have created.  Be expansive in the creation of this list of people you know.  Do not delete anybody from the list at this point.  I have worked with dozens of individuals who reached their goals through individuals who they were initially going to cross off their contact list.  It helps to sort your contacts into the following types of networks:

Close Personal Friends Network

Ask yourself the question, “Who are my closest friends?” and create the beginning of your list of everybody you know with those who come to mind when you ask yourself that question.

Writing Specific Network

This network might consist of the following individuals connected to the writing process:

-Those you know or know of who really like the type of book(s) you have written. 

-Anybody you know who is involved in any kind of writing endeavor anywhere: fellow writers, reporters, editors, researchers etc. This could include blog writers, those who write a lot of Amazon book reviews, those who write articles or post regularly on social media.  It does not matter what they write so much as they are connected in some way to the dissemination of information through writing.

-Someone who is connected in any way at all with an organization involved with the creation of written materials.

-Book lovers, aspiring writers, expansive thinkers, individuals involved in work involving the need to access large amounts of information in order to make presentations, convince consumers etc.

Well-Connected and/or Helpful Personality Network

This network includes individuals who, by the nature of their work, know a lot of people, or who just really love helping people.  You will see some of these types in the following categories.

Common Networks (adopted from Highly Effective Networking by Orville Pierson, used with permission):

Educational Networks:  College or University, High School, Grade School, Specialized Education or Training etc.

Employment Networks: Your Current Employer(s), Past Employers, Vendors, Customers and Clients of each Employer, Strategic Partners of each etc.

Other Organizational Networks: Religious/Spiritual, Fraternal/Sororal, Alumni, Professional, Political, Community, Charitable etc.

Personal business Networks: Banker, Broker, Lawyer, Doctor, Dentist, Accountant, Financial Advisor etc.

Personal Service Networks: Barber, Hair Stylist, Personal Trainers, Bartenders, Car Service Drivers etc.

Job Assistance Networks:  Individuals involved in work that helps individuals find jobs or plan their career. 

Avocational Networks:  Golf, Tennis, Basketball, Sports, Hobbies etc.

Other Networks: Family, Friends, Community, Neighbors, past and present etc.

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#2. Prioritize your list in terms of individuals you think would be most helpful.

Most adults who invest time listing everyone they know will have created a list including hundreds of names.  The critical next step is to take the time to go through the list and identify those who you think would be most helpful; those who belong in your initial draft of your “Book Marketing Team.”  Your reason for including people in this more selective list is completely personal and based on your relationship with them and any reason that you think they should be in this grouping.  The reason does not matter; you simply need a personal reason to include them in this important list which will be the first group of people you approach for assistance with the selling of your book.

#3. Approach each member of your “Book Marketing Team” in a personal and planful manner

After you have created your initial “Book Marketing Team” list, give thought to how each person might be able to help you.

If you are comfortable and/or experienced with reaching out and asking for assistance, you can start with anybody in this first key group of contacts.  If you are not as comfortable or experienced with this exercise, I recommend you fine-tune your outreach for asking for assistance by identifying a few contacts who you would be most comfortable approaching as you gain experience with this process.  The key is to make your approach in a personal manner that is most likely to create a willingness to help you.

I say this because I have seen first-hand how individuals in their haste reached out to their network in a way that was impersonal and insulting since some of the members of their network of contacts had been very close friends for years and should have been approached individually and personally.  I stress the importance of this step because social media has made it very easy to get a message to many people very quickly and it is imperative that you evaluate every outreach to your network regarding whether it is personal, appropriate, focused, and clearly communicated.

 Give thought to your relationship with each person you intend to contact and create an approach that fits their personality and your relationship with them.   Some who live close to you might want to get together in person while others who live close might not  want to be approached to meet individually and would appreciate an electronic message.  How far you live from somebody certainly limits the ways you can connect with them, leading to more virtual connections with those who live a distance away from you which in the current social media environment is not nearly as much of a deterrent to having a successful connection than it was in the past.

In addition to considering your relationship with a member of our network, give thought to approaching your contacts in a way that makes it as easy as possible for them to assist you.  This often includes creating some kind of written description of your book or your tentative marketing plan.  What follows are examples of approaches designed to create a positive reaction.   

-When you approach contacts individually, be candid about the reason for your outreach.  If for example you want to approach someone regarding accessing members of their large social network you could say,  “You know that I am writer. I need your help with the marketing of my latest book.  I know you have a large social network.  Would you be willing to reach out to those you think would be interested in my latest book using this draft of a post I have created about the book and how they can purchase it?” 

-If you are asking a contact about the possibility of your speaking to their local membership organization, book club or other group, outline what you would be saying to the group’s members and share that with your contact as you ask if they would introduce you to individuals in their membership group.  If your contact does not feel it is appropriate for you to meet with the group ask if they think group members would be willing to receive a single page description of your book that you have created as part of your network marketing plan. 

-When you get together with any of the social or network groups you meet with regularly, share the single page description you have created about your book that includes suggestions about how they might help you market it.  After they have taken a quick look, ask them for ideas that you might not have considered.  Get them involved in generating ideas for your marketing campaign that does not have anything to do with what you all do as a social or membership group and has everything to do with the success of something that a member of the group – you -  is passionate about.

-Almost every educational institution has an alumni association that wants to stay in contact with their graduates.  Approach your alumni association about posting information about your book in their newsletter, or about talking with fellow alumni at an alumni meeting that they hold near where you live.

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It is also helpful to think, when you reach out to members of your “Book Marketing Team” and individuals to whom you have been referred, to ask whether they know other individuals to whom you should be speaking.  In every one of the conversations that you have about your book it is appropriate and beneficial to ask the individual or group to whom you are talking if there is anybody that they know that you should approach, hoping you will be remembered by those you meet and referred to other individuals who might help.   

#4. Follow-up and thank your contact for connecting with you.

In addition to voicing your gratitude for the interaction, offer your assistance to the people in your network. Networking is all about fostering goodwill and shared knowledge; be prepared to reciprocate in any way possible. If you see that a contact has shared a post about your book with their social network or has liked something you have posted in social media about your book, send them a message thanking them for their support.  

#5.  Keep track of your outreach efforts as you continue approaching new individuals about your book.  Creating a method for keeping track of your outreach efforts will be invaluable when you move forward with your book marketing effort and need to get back to people who sincerely wanted to know how your book marketing efforts were progressing or who volunteered to help as you moved ahead.  That record of your engagements will also help you when you decide to connect individuals you have met with people in your network who might be able to help them.  There might also be opportunities for you to follow-up with someone with whom you have talked and provide information or suggestions that might help them with a topic that came up in your interaction. 

Finally, this organized system for keeping track of who on your contact list you have approached will be helpful as you begin to move further down your contact list to individuals who you do not know as well as those on your initial “Book Marketing Team.” Again, as I said previously, the individuals who are often most helpful are those from whom you expected the least assistance.