~ Sankalita Roy
Before, we begin an article, let us go back in time, say this year January in 2023. It was during my first group signing session at the Kolkata Literary Carnival organized by Ukiyoto Publishing. Being a new author, I was super excited about my book signing sessions. I invited all the members in my circle whom I love and trust for this big day. However, there is only one problem, which I observed after arriving on the spot. I didn’t have fancy stalls decorated based on the theme of the book. I didn’t bring bookmarks based on the quotes of my book. I didn’t bring chocolates or toffees or ancient scrolls in a bag like others. Forget about this fancy stuff, I even forgot to bring my pen and invite people through the social media platforms. Only two of my friends turned up, no one came. I was sitting under a stall in the scorching heat of the sun unable to create a quick first impression and convince people to buy my book. I was a bit down and upset, to be honest, I was bored and demotivated as hell. I won an award yet people don’t know me. Somewhere, I was happy but deep down inside, I wished for validation and recognition for my hard work and dedication. Since I was craving some fun times with my friends, one of them suggested Why don’t you gift the other authors your book with your signature. Knowing people and establishing your contacts is more important than selling your books and earning money. This is called networking.
So, what is networking? Why it is so important?
According to an article on Google, networking is the process of making connections and building relationships. these connections can provide you with advice and contacts, which can help you make informed career decisions. Networking can even help you find unadvertised jobs/internships. Networking can take place in a group or one-on-one setting.
if there is an opportunity to publish your book in the publication industry, first of all, you have to know about it. the process of book publication involves knowing about the editor, the people in the publication industry, the marketing team, the book tours and so on. With like-minded people in your circle, you can easily grab opportunities to become a successful author. As an individual, you have to keep only one thing in mind, it is to build meaningful relationships and genuine connections.
WHAT TO CONSIDER IN OTHER AUTHORS?
Again, it is story time, It was around 2019 when I used to go to an English class where I met a friend of mine who happens to be an author. Gradually with time our friendship deepens with time as both of us encourage and push each other to new limits. She is the first friend of mine who happens to be an author with awards and media rushing into her house. I was then just a simple girl who kept my poems hidden from the world as if they were gold jewellery waiting to be stolen. A few years later, when I retrospect on my journey as an author, I realize that she played a huge role in influencing me to become the writer I am today. First of all, no friendship should be with benefits and second, let’s check certain things that you should consider in other authors:
Level of Fame: this isn’t easy to say that you have to meet with someone super famous to get recognition around the world, say people like Paris Hilton. However, you must keep this one thing in mind to polish your book marketing skills, you need to surround yourself with people who help you to get through the crowd and build a meaningful relationship with them.
Their level of influence or reach: I have to be honest here but authors without any significant level of influence are of no use ( I mean the readers or social or email), and then both of you will be in the trenches.
General personality: It is important to build meaningful relationships otherwise what is the use of friendships? Friendships without an exchange of words are useless. As a result, it is better to be purposeful and constructive with your connections.
My recommendation: this is something, you are allowed to agree or disagree but the main aim of networking is to build connections, grow yourself along with others and work purposefully towards your goal. It is essential to find like-minded people like yours. If you ever watched the episode of Koffee with Karan, you will know it well, I’m referring to the episode of Sara Ali Khan and Janhvi Kapoor. In that particular episode, they open up about being daughters of celebrities and their struggles of being new actors in the industry. Being from the same background, they can resonate well with each other’s struggles. This goes for you too. The second thing that you have to keep in mind is following authors on social media and networking with them can help you understand the ways of reaching your target audience and building your brand.
WHERE TO FIND THE RIGHT AUTHORS?
Well, this is an interesting question but an easy one as in the world of the internet, it is easy and convenient to connect with people all over the world. apart from this, offline events such as award ceremonies, book reading sessions and so on greatly help to expand your circle and build connections. Let us investigate some ways where you as an author can find the right authors in your circle.
Social media writers’ group: If you ever type on Facebook about authors' groups, you will find many. In these groups, authors from all over the world connect, they provide each other with genuine feedback, advice, and suggestions in their book publishing process. If you as an author get stuck in your writing process or you want to know what to do with the publication process, come on, let us accept this we as human beings, can’t know everything, add a public comment and ask the other authors. Recently, this happened to me, For my website, I posted publicly about my new blog and asked other fellow authors for their feedback, one of them suggested the usage of simple fonts instead of cursive ones so that the reader’s reading journey becomes easier. I did that because I agree with what he has suggested. Some examples of writers group are:
List of LinkedIn writers
List of Facebook writers’ groups
Goodreads page for writers’ group
Twitter lists for writers
Some publication houses also offer WhatsApp groups of writers where all of them can interact and exchange their thoughts and ideas
Online critiques group: Some online programs allow you to critique someone else’s work so that your work can be critiqued. Some of them are paid while some of them are free. In the process of being critiqued for your work and others' work, you build up genuine relationships that help each other to grow in the process of becoming an author. Here are some services out there:
The Write Practice
Local writers’ group: There are many local writers’ groups that you can search online and join to build networking and share genuine relationships. this can be Spoken Word Poetry groups, book reading clubs and so on. You can search for it in Google by typing your city + writers’ group.
Attending offline events: As previously discussed, this includes book signing sessions, book reading sessions, book launch events, award functions and so on. During my book signing sessions, all I did was learn from other author’s experiences and their journey. During my first award ceremony, I learned about the importance of book marketing and its role in becoming a successful author (I always lived under a shell but I hardly thought that as an author, I have to work for book marketing instead of hiring a marketing expert like others in the same field if you want to save money). As you interact, I promise you will learn so many things without the internet, So many questions that you can’t ask anyone will be answered that too in a better way, all you have to do is keep an open heart.
HOW TO GET NOTICED AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS?
The hardest part of being a new author with less experience trying to build connections without trying or gaming to win and gain trust in a new friendship. For any new relationship to grow, you must give time and space to it along with a pinch of patience which is the secret of long-lasting relationships. here are some ways, you can try to build a relationship. They are given below:
Signing up for their email list and reply: This is one of the best ways to build up a relationship with an author, that is to sign up their email list. It is very similar to responding to WhatsApp status, where people who respond to your posts get noticed by you. You as an individual are more likely to help them when they need you. This is obvious because of the two-way communication and efforts from both sides.
Follow them on social media and reply: Becoming an active follower just like I mentioned previously helps you to get noticed by the author. Reply to their posts, and congratulate them on their new achievements in a genuine manner without coming across as creepy. With time, they are going to notice your posts and notice you.
Send them useful gifts: If you are trying to build a new relationship, you can gift your author-friend some useful gifts in a while. This can be journals, your books signed by you or flowers to congratulate them on their new milestone. To get noticed, you must genuinely work the extra mile and wait for new relationships to grow with time. you can also send the author a gift when they helped you with some book publishing problem to thank them.
Let them know that you left a review: As an author, when you are working hard to build your brand, it becomes quite challenging to reach readers who are likely to help you in your journey. However, during this period if someone helps you by writing a review on Amazon or Flipkart, what an amazing thing indeed. It will take a few seconds and it will be of great help to you if you have published yourself as an author recently. This action also makes you noticeable.
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
The above steps are meant to help you get noticed by other authors in your subject or genre. As I have mentioned before, each relationship takes time, effort and patience to grow, however, do not build friendships based on your motivation to sell more books. Instead search for the genuine ones, because they not only add to your mental peace and stability but also act as lifelong allies of helping you publish your book as an author and a part of your success journey.
Now, the question comes to the fact whether it is legit or not to ask for help from authors from your circle as it depends on the goodwill and trust you have generated, the help you have provided and the closeness you have with the author, if it is yes, go for the following steps:
An editorial review: Editorial reviews are a great way to enhance the sales of your book and generate book conversions. If you ask an author to do so, you are showing the author that you think that they are an authority.
Critiques of your work: If the author in your circle is a great writer and thinks that they do an excellent job in your genre, then ask them about their thoughts about your book or ways they think your book can do better.
An Amazon review: If your friend as an author has read your book, ask them to leave a review on your Amazon account. It is very simple and quite beneficial for you.
An email exchange: If the author has sent out emails to you about their latest book releases and updates through an email campaign, you can reply to those emails and get noticed by him/her. However, as time passes ensure that you in turn send them the email campaigns about your book releases and get noticed by the author even if your followers are less than theirs.
Many of these are industrial norms but do them only when you are comfortable doing them. remember authenticity is the key here. Best of luck in your journey as an author and see you in another blog.