American society contains a very interesting subculture built around using your friends and relatives to make money, either as a primary or secondary source of income.
I must admit it bothers me when an individual will view those around them mainly as a revenue source instead of relationships to experience and serve. It is also interesting that a number of the most successful multi-level marketing groups have Christian or faith-based roots. Evidently, spiritual people like the idea of using friends to make money.
Of course, like anything, if a person approaches something with improper motives, it never works well long-term and something done with right motives and a pure heart will be more apt to succeed long term and be completely harmless.
I am writing a little sharper than I probably need to, attempting to prove a point, knowing most of the friend-selling programs are relatively fun for everyone involved and not destructive at all.
But I am concerned authors will fall into a dangerous trap. Without taking great care, an author’s relationships can be transformed into “sales leads” and “endorsers.”
A number of years ago, I went to a conference featuring a prominent Christian author. About 1,500 people paid a nice sum to attend and buy materials.
Just so happens I knew a person who worked with them and after the conference when everyone departed, I found myself speaking to my acquaintance when the speaker approached and sat next to us. I introduced myself and thanked the speaker for their ministry, saying it was such a great encouragement, etc.
With a sigh, the author said, “Well, this was a lot smaller crowd than we are used to. We won’t come back here any time soon, for sure.”
Rather than focusing on the fact they were able to minister to and encourage 1,500 people, plus make a very nice amount of money, they were tormented by how they deserved better.
This author forgot the most important things and seemed to remember only their own self-importance. To this author, people were simply a way to make money.
I envision God shaking his head in disappointment at this behavior.
While this is a dramatic example of using relationships only for what they can do for you, lesser examples happen every day when authors view “author platforms” built on social media or speaking opportunities as numbers on a screen or faces in the crowd, calculating how many books they can sell.
I’ve mentioned this before in this blog about the need to build and maintain your author platform in various manifestations with care and the long-term view. When you are in a hurry, you would be comparable to a person who makes a friend on Monday and asks them to move your piano down a flight of stairs on Wednesday.
This person used to be your friend.
Building a long-lasting author platform is much more about how much value you provide to those who follow than how much value they give to you immediately. If you view people as opportunities given you to serve, it will change your entire platform and how you conduct it.
If you view them as sales leads, your entire writing career will begin a slow corrosion from the inside out until your platform is unresponsive and not helpful. People want personal connection, not an account number.
The most effective author platforms spend 80% or more of their time giving value to the followers and the remaining time mentioning a book and a place to buy it.
The harder you push, the fewer people will follow you.
The harder you sell, the less effective you will be.
Sure, make certain people know you have a book and how they can order it, but quickly get back to serving your followers with great stories and content.