Even if you’re a first-time author, you probably have a network of contacts who can help you promote your book.
Identifying the people in your network is a matter of thinking through the people you know, the connections they have, and how all those connections relate to your book’s audience.
Who’s in Your Network?
Here are some categories to help you identify your network:
- people in your writers’ group
- your writing teacher, mentor, or coach
- your beta readers (people who read your manuscript and gave you feedback at any point in the writing process)
- people you asked for endorsements
- anyone you know (friends, family members, neighbors, etc.) whom you mentioned your book to
- published authors you know personally, especially those in a similar genre to yours
- your friends who know authors, especially those in a similar genre to yours
- your friends who have contacts in media that would reach your potential readers
- your friends who are in book clubs, who write book reviews, or who read book review websites and blogs
What Can You Ask from Your Network?
Once you’ve identified and categorized the people in your network, you’ll need to determine the best way to approach them. Your approach for each person should depend on what category they fall into, how you know them, and what they would be most open to doing for your book.
For each individual in your network, you’ll want to think about their interests, affiliations, and even personality. How excited is that person about your book? Are they active on social media? If they have a big Twitter following, for example, perhaps they’d be willing to tweet about your book. Are they connected to an organization that is related to your book’s audience? Perhaps they could talk to someone about buying multiple copies. Are they good at writing? Ask them to write an online review.
For many of the people listed above (family members, friends, other people you know well), if they’ve expressed interest in or enthusiasm for your book, it should be easy to ask them to spread the word to their friends and colleagues, to write a review, or to share any marketing materials, such as bookmarks or postcards, with their own networks.
Your beta readers and endorsers have already done a great favor for you by either providing feedback on your manuscript or writing a blurb and letting you use it and their name in your marketing communications (your book’s back cover, online descriptions, press release, etc.). You will of course already have thanked them for their help, and your thank-you may have included a free copy of your book. Other than that, can you ask them to do anything else? That depends on what you know about them and how they feel about your book.
If one of your beta readers was particularly enthusiastic, consider asking them to write an online review either where your book is being sold or on their own blog or another website they can post to. If you have marketing materials, you could ask them if they’re willing to take some and share them with their friends or colleagues who might be interested in your book.
For endorsers, it might be best simply to keep them informed of your marketing efforts and the successes of your book. If they ever ask you if they can do something more, then you can be ready with suggestions. They might be willing to help you publicize your book launch event. They could promote your book on their own website or via their social media accounts. Perhaps they’d write a recommendation for a book award, or they could get you in touch with an appropriate book reviewer.
Preparing to Ask Your Network for Help
If you’re hesitating about approaching people in your network, start with the easiest ones: your friends who are excited about your book and want to help. Then once you feel you have some momentum, take on the challenge of asking other people if they might be willing to do something to help your book. Ask politely, and be appreciative. The worst someone can say is no. If that happens, just thank them for their time and consideration, and move on. Make sure to keep track of everyone you ask for help from, and thank each one personally.
Your network is one of the most valuable resources you have as an author. If you take the time to plan carefully and communicate clearly and appreciatively, people in your network will help your book find its audience.