If there was ever such a halcyon time when an Indie Author could just hit publish on a book and then watch the sales come in, that time is long over.
Now, discoverability is a real issue, and many authors are feeling alone and disheartened, and struggling to find sales. I’m certainly not an expert on getting sales, (or on not feeling alone, for that matter!) but I have a steady amount of books sold each day. I can attribute my modest success to one thing: networking.
There are a number of different forms of networking.
- In person
- Online (Readers)
- Online (Other writers)
- Online (Bloggers and reviewers)
The first time I saw a bump in my sales (after the initial release) was when I attended the Romance Writers of Australia conference last year. There, I met a lot of lovely, like-minded people that loved the same genre I do, both as readers and writers. I didn’t spend any of my time pimping my books to people there (unless they asked!), but I did build connections, ones that I’ve continued since. And many of those people have been supportive of my writing in subsequent months.
So, in person networking is not about selling your books, necessarily, it’s about selling yourself as a person and making friends.
I also have seen an uptick in my sale since I joined a number of online groups for writers. Not critique groups, but more communities, many of which are on Goodreads and Facebook. Again, I didn’t use these groups to spam people with my books, but I try to be a helpful, active member. I answer people’s questions as best I can, I offer opinions when they’re asked for, and I cheer people on when they need it. And they do the same for me! I don’t go in with the intention of any mercenary gain, but I think in many ways these groups have contributed to me finding a readership.
This, for me, was about having a support network of other people that understand the writing process. Some of them bought my book! But that isn’t the point of the connection. Rather, they make me feel less alone in the writing and publishing world, and these groups are a place to pool our knowledge for the betterment of all of us. However, like with the in-person networking, it helps to make friends and be supportive of other people, because they’ll probably be supportive back.
Bloggers and reviewers are the group I’ve had the least success networking with. I’ve tried! But I’m probably doing something wrong. However, I’ll keep persisting because there is a wealth of evidence out there that bloggers and reviewers will be your biggest supporters down the line. They are the ones that get readers to hear about your book, and get them hyped for releases. It will definitely be a challenge worth pursuing to build those relationships!
And, now, to readers. There are a number of ways to meet and communicate with readers. In person you have book launches, conferences, conventions, and things like that. Online, you have social media, groups, forums, etc. If you can build a relationship with readers, then I’ll wager that will be your most financially successful form of networking. Part of this comes through your author branding (something I’m still working on) – readers want to know who you are. Other times it’s just interacting with them in appropriate places.
Networking is essential for building not just a readership, but a community around you. This isn’t (just) for financial reasons. Indie authors don’t have to take this journey alone – and they shouldn’t. Find opportunities to build relationships, and be receptive to those that come your way. It’ll make a massive difference!