One thing you can do (and this should be the case with any product) is to begin networking with authors who are in the same position as you are. If you can form 50 partnerships in a few months, you now have 50 heads that can function in unison. I did this with my own company: Circle 5 Publishing Group. I found relevant authors who were in the same genre as I was. This was easy since I was on Amazon.com already, which gives a laundry list of suggested titles to purchase, i.e:
(“If you liked this book, then perhaps you may enjoy these other nauseatingly-boring books”).
I contacted as many authors as I could from various directories – online and offline – and I did this over the course of every day, for about 2-3 hours a day, for a good month. This facilitated a starting point: I had my own little think tank. Find below a sample email you can send to them. I suggest modifying it as you see fit, but try and send the same one to each.
That way you will be able to determine if you are successful or not, and can adjust the email as needed (if you are familiar with A/B testing, you can also try that, though it would rely on recording which emails go to which authors, and if you are willing to do the work then go for it).
Dear [author’s name],
I am a self-published author and am looking to partner with like-minded novelists in an effort to strategically navigate the sales and marketing process. I see you have seen some success with your own book(s) and would love it if we could have a chat to discuss how we can both benefit each other. Email me at [email address].
Thank you for your time,
The value of strategic partnerships is essential in any business, but especially in self-publishing. In an industry where less than 40 percent of self-published works sell more than $100 a year, you need to mark yourself as something special. As you read at the beginning of this entry, I touched upon the rather sensitive issue of making yourself more than just an author but also a businessman. When you write a book, you are an artist. When you finish the book, it is now a product.
This is relative to partnerships because you can feature them on your website. Take Circle 5 Publishing (my company) as an example. I have more than just my own novel listed; I have services I perform, books from my many partnered authors, and I make sure that every two weeks I write a blog about one of them, or post about them on social media. If they do the same, it is much more likely that I will make a sale. If you have 50 partnerships, you have 50 authors with multiple books, which can give a sense of perceived value (remember that we discussed this back a ways). Find below a quick chart you can use to draw up possible partners. These can be anything from other authors in your genre, to individuals with creative minds, and so on.
I am placing as many slots as possible.
List the author’s name, the genre of the book that drew you to them, their level of pragmatism (i.e. their overall value as a potential partner) and their possibility of working with you (on a scale of 1-10, which can be based on how “popular” they are, or in laymen’s terms: how busy they may be, as if they are already selling, they may not need any additional assistance with marketing and thus, you have to judge based on free time).
[Author name, Genre, Pragmaticism on scale of 1-10, Possibility to work with 1-10]
One thing I noticed during the overall sales and marketing process of “Through Jaded Eyes” was how even authors more successful than I was encountered the same selfless issue of not knowing who to market to. This is when we decided – as a group – to find what common pain points we all had with the process of marketing. In a sense, we began to look at each other as a potential customer, and we had to figure out how to pitch ourselves. We found that much of the problem was not a lacking of a “target demographic” but rather (and this is where it gets a bit paradoxical) a formal lack of creative thinking (you just can’t make this stuff up).
So, there we were…a roundtable discussion group of novelists who were trying to make a living as creatives yet, at the same time, we had no idea what to do when it came to the marketing process which, by its own admission, is the “creative” side of business.
Everyone Is Your Niche!
This was when an idea circulated that really caught on with most of the group. It was the concept of focusing less on a niche market and rather, looking for a general gimmick to market with. In other words, rather than finding a market, we were looking at it as, “Perhaps everyone is our demographic; we just need a way to relate to each and every one of them.” Once you have potential partners, you have most likely not contacted them yet. I advise you to wait and put together your partnership agreement before contacting them, as without it you are just another fish in the sea to them. As stated before, the more heads the merrier, and remember that while they are helping promote your book, your main obligation is to help promote theirs, as well.
It’s often delineated as a “strategic partnership” because it is the facilitation of dual benefit for both authors.
Here’s a quick example of my own plan:
Every 2 weeks, I will mention [book and author] on my social media pages (list them) and will, in exchange, receive the same promotion on your end. Every month I will also write a guest blog post for your website, which you will also do for me. This will build credibility and social proof, as well as assist both of us in our marketing endeavors. Any ideas you have should also be brought up, including mailing campaigns and advertising.
Believe it or not, blogs are very important for marketing books. You want your audience to see you are more than just an author of fiction (or of cooking); you need to provide them a reason to buy your book. That is the one mistake I see many authors make: they try to go straight for the sale, which is fine – but not in an unsolicited manner. Your job while marketing your book is to give them a reason to look into it. This can be done through chapter previews where you can post some sample chapters, reviews, and more.
You should also work on a monthly press release, which brings me to one last rundown of marketing strategies.
Yes, unfortunately we are almost done here…
[What other ways could you market your book(s) using a strategic partnership?]