Last week in this space, I wrote about how you could become a publisher’s favorite author (other than selling millions of books). Today, we’ll go a little different direction and talk about what you would need to do to become a favorite author to your readers.
A key difference between how you relate to a publisher and how you relate to a reader is that one is business and one is personal. An average publisher will invest tens of thousands of dollars to get your book to market, while a reader might only need to pay $4.99 for an Amazon Kindle ebook.
Just like I wrote last week, regardless whether you are published or not, you should think now about what sort of relationship you want to have with your readers.
Last week I suggested that you should develop a publisher relations strategy for yourself. What I suggest this week goes a lot deeper. The closest thing I can think of for this discussion is to consider yourself as a “customer service” representative for your books.
The Nordstrom retail company is legendary for their customer service. They even have a manual, The Nordstrom Way. To them, customer service is not a strategy, it is a “way of life”.
So, among all the things you need to think about as an author…your platform, financial plan, professional growth and your relationships with your publisher and agent, I am suggesting you also need to decide on a way to treat your readers that becomes a way of life for you.
How would you become a “linchpin author” who inspires a reader to buy your next book and talk about it with friends? I said last week that the obvious answer to that for the publisher is to write a best-selling book and making them a lot of money, but readers will be even more challenging. Other than writing a great manuscript that will inspire wonderful comments from your readers, here are some thoughts on an effective “author way of life”.
- Be a real person. If a reader contacts you, write them back within 48 hours or less.
- If you receive too many responses each day than you can handle, then have a friend, intern or even hire someone part-time to help you. For most, the volume is not a problem. If it is, let someone else answer the questions about when your next book is available or if you plan on visiting Michigan any time soon. A few “copy and paste” templates will suffice for those. For deeper issues, handle yourself.
- Read a book by Gary Vaynerchuk…Crush It!, or The Thank You Economy or his newest, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Gary is a social media guru who is highly successful making money from his social media strategy, but his approach will surprise you. I think you will actually feel comfortable with it. (He will urge you to be real!)
- Follow through on commitments. This is also in your publisher relationship, but important for readers as well. If you say you will do something, then do it. If you promise to answer all letters within 48 hours, then take your laptop on vacation and continue to do it.
- Minister to the readers. In your books, blogs, anything you do, show that you treat people with grace and with fruit of the spirit.
- Be aware of other books or authors and recommend them. Chances are you won’t write ten books each year, like a store recommending another store to simply serve a customer well. You don’t lose a thing, in fact you will actually grow in stature with readers because you helped them.
- Pray for your readers without telling them.
Of course, write a powerful book that positively affects lives and you will go a long way to becoming a favorite author, but it takes more. Be real.
What ideas do you have to make yourself a linchpin author to readers?