Let’s say you have a book out and want to promote it. So you contact a website and offer to write a free guest post (or several) for them.
In exchange for providing the free content, you have some requests:
- You want the column(s) to be accompanied by your book cover
- You want the column(s) to be accompanied by your headshot
- You want the column(s) to be accompanied by your bio, with a link in the bio that will redirect readers to a buy page for the book — Amazon or IndieBound or whatever you ask
Some people may have further things to promote, like classes or workshops or consultation services or an eBay profile full of knickknacks. It doesn’t matter.
The point is that if you’re writing the column for free, what you want out of the exchange is the chance to promote something. Simple and easy.
This is Guest Blogging 101, and everyone wins in this deal.
The best time to promote yourself: now
But what if you don’t have a book or anything to sell yet? What are you selling then? Simple: You’re selling a connection to yourself.
Sure, you don’t have a book for sale now, but you will in the future — so you need to connect yourself to interested individuals now so you can inform them of the book release down the road.
You can encourage potential readers to stay connected to you in a few simple ways:
- Follow you on Twitter
- Sign up for your free email newsletter
- Like your Facebook fan page, or befriend you on your personal page
- Subscribe to the RSS feed for your blog
If you get someone to connect with you in any of these ways (preferably in multiple ways), then you establish a lasting connection with a person that doesn’t likely disappear.
This means that when your book comes out in three weeks or three years, you still have an avenue to inform them of its existence, and thus possibly make a sale. This is your author platform, plain and simple.
Give people a real reason to connect with you
Not sold on this concept? Let’s imagine a simple, watered-down scenario.
Say you get a call from the local Toastmasters Group. The coordinator says, “We just had a last-minute speaker cancellation. I’ve got 50 people in this room waiting to hear a speech. I got your name from [acquaintance] and she said you were an aspiring writer and a very good speaker. I wonder if you might be able to come down and talk to my crowd.”
Your answer is yes. You throw on some nice clothes and head down. Then for one hour you speak in front of this Toastmasters crowd about [anything you want].
At the end of the speech, you motion to a sign-up sheet near the door. “If you enjoyed what you heard today,” you say, “please sign up for my email newsletter so I can update you from time to time on my writing.”
This is the key element. You’ve given them 60 minutes of information for free. The whole payoff is them signing up for your newsletter.
Then all 50 people slowly get up and mosey out the door, with not one leaving an email on your sheet.
If that happens, then what was the point of speaking?
Fifty people just walked out the door and you have no means to contact them later.
If you don’t have a product or service to immediately promote and sell, you must connect to people so you can have a selling avenue down the road, or else they can slip away forever.
If they befriend you on Facebook or subscribe to your blog, then you nabbed that valuable connection and can potentially get them interested in your future products and services when you reach out down the line.
Keep in mind that people need motivation to stay in contact with you — they need to know you’ll be giving them something of value.
Let’s just say the Guide to Literary Agents didn’t exist and I had no books to sell, but I did have social media accounts.
In my bio on a guest post, I would say, “If you’re looking for a literary agent, check out Chuck’s blog, sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter. All those channels include free information about queries, submissions, new agents, interviews, platform and more.”
In other words, I don’t just say “And follow me on social media — pretty please.” I drive home the incentives of connecting with me.
And by doing that, more people link with me online, and I gather more followers to inform of a book down the road.
What tips would you add for forging relationships with potential readers?