3 Reasons to Partner with Other Authors #AuthorTips
It’s tempting to think of other authors as competition. After all, if a reader is only going to buy one book, they will either choose yours or someone else’s, right? Not quite.
Imagine you’re sitting at a book festival with other authors. Why will a reader be drawn to your book over the others? Do you have a cover that will attract the reader’s attention? That’s the first thing people will look at, and what will get a reader to take a second look at your book. Do you have a compelling book description? That’s what will intrigue readers enough to keep looking at your book. (Bonus points if you’ve got a killer tagline, and are using other marketing tools to draw readers to your table, like bookmarks or a book-related conversation piece. Candy also helps.)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, does the reader enjoy your book’s genre? This is the hard part, because sometimes readers have preconceptions about genre and you won’t be able to change their minds. You might have a great cover and description (and perhaps you’ve offered your most charming smile and chocolate), but if a reader prefers contemporary over historical romance, they’re going to put down your historical romance when they realize your book is not what they’re looking for. I write in young adult, and I’ve had a number of readers pick up my books and put them down again because they think the book was “written for teens.” I can try to define my genre, telling readers that “young adult” refers to the ages of the characters rather than readers, and that actually, I have a number of older adult readers who enjoy my books. Sometimes that helps. Mostly it doesn’t, because singing my own praises at that point isn’t going to convince the reader to buy my book. You know what does help? When the author sitting next to me pipes up and says, “I’ve read Melissa’s book. It’s fantastic. If you enjoy fantasy, you’ll love it.” This is the face-to-face equivalent of the book blurb, and one reason other authors are not the enemy.
Book Blurbs/Praise: Do book blurbs sell books? I can’t say I’ve ever bought a book solely because of a book blurb, but I have certainly bought books other people have recommended. Readers are inundated with messages to buy, so you can understand why continually tweeting “buy my book” or posting about how wonderful your own book is would be a huge turn off. However, when someone who doesn’t benefit financially enthusiastically recommends a product, that’s a turn on. If another author gives your book a cover blurb or a 5 star review, these are things to share with readers.
My newly released book, The Sower Comes, has a cover blurb from USA Today Bestselling Author DelSheree Gladden. I’m thrilled that DelSheree is a bestselling author. She’s a lovely person and a friend. I’m a huge fan of her young adult Aerling Series. I asked her for a blurb because I love her books, and because having a blurb from a successful author is a great marketing tool. I’m thankful for the blurb, but I’m even more grateful for praise she offered that I didn’t solicit. DelSheree partners with several YA authors to produce an online radio show called A Special Kind of Crazy, and recently recommended my books on the show, praising me for a well-written villain. That’s the best kind of marketing because not only is she sharing about my books with her fan base, you’d better believe I’m going to reciprocate and share about her books with my followers.
Events: I mentioned sitting next to an author at a book festival. I often partner with Paula Judith Johnson, who writes wonderful contemporary and historical romance novels. We get along well, and we recognize that we have different target readers because we write in different genres (though I would happily partner with her even if we wrote in the same genre). We have a mutual respect and admiration for each other as people and writers, and we realize that we both benefit by praising each other. We also know each other’s books well enough that we can tell readers about them. If Paula has to step away from the table, I can still help sell her books to interested readers. Logistically, partnering makes sense because we can split fees if the venue charges authors for tables, and we can share rides to expand our reach beyond local events. It’s also nice to have company when events last for hours and there is a lull in potential customers.
Partnering with authors for virtual events is a great idea too. For the launch of my third book, I organized an author fest by creating a Facebook event. I invited ten authors from a variety of genres to join me. The event spanned several hours and each author had thirty minutes to post games and giveaways and to chat about their books. This benefited all of us for several reasons: we all invited readers to attend so we tapped into other fan bases and increased our reach to new readers; we offered giveaways, giving people more incentive to attend; and we all helped spread the word about the event through Facebook and Twitter. We also chimed in on other authors’ posts, offering encouragement and keeping conversations lively with readers. The sense of camaraderie was amazing, and I loved getting to know fellow authors better. Hopefully we’ll continue to support each other with future events and by sharing each other’s book news.
Support and Feedback: This brings me to one of the best reasons to partner with other authors. Marketing can be a long, lonely slog. Other authors know that, and their support can be incredibly uplifting. When I’m doing an event, my biggest fear is always this: what if nobody shows up? I know that the authors I partner with will be there to cheer me on, just as I’ll attend their book launches and readings. It also helps to have a network of people to share about upcoming writing, publicity, or book-selling opportunities. And finally, marketing, just like writing, requires revision. Not only can other authors provide valuable feedback about your writing, they can help you assess what about your marketing plan is or isn’t working, and share strategies that have brought them success.
Partnering with other authors is invaluable because finding success as an author isn’t easy, and it’s impossible to make it in the publishing industry without help. Together we rise.