Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I’m reposting a blog from a couple of years back because it is the advice that I most want to give to writers. It bears repeating.
At a recent writer’s conference a not-yet-published writer asked me, “Aside from writing the perfect book, what’s the most important thing I can do at this stage?” The most important. Hmmm. So many things come to mind. Like start a blog to get used to writing on deadline and to begin to build a following. Or begin the process to get an agent. What about start showing your work to editors at writing conferences? Build a website. And those are only the tip of the iceberg. But the most important thing. . .
I would have to say, start collecting people. It’s all about people. Let me explain. There are a number of ways you are going to begin collecting people:
Resource People. From the very beginning of your writing career you are going to want to create a contact file for everyone who has helped you on your journey, in your research, helped you with your manuscript or assisted in connecting you to those people who can help you get published. Why? For one thing, many of these people will be mentioned in your acknowledgements. When you do, you’ll want their contact information to send them a copy of the book. Those people on this list will become enthusiastic marketing mavens for you and your book. Also, you may want want to circle back to these resource people in the future for further help. Don’t leave it to memory.
Influencers. When your book is ready to release, your publisher is going to ask for your list of influencers. Don’t be caught unaware. Begin now to build this list. An influencer is that person who has a following. He is the person who can hold your book up and say, “gotta read this book,” and it will mean a sharp uptick in sales. When you meet these movers and shakers tell them a little about your book. And then put their name on your influencer list. Your publisher will send them a complimentary book when the time is right, thanking them for any influencing they can do on your behalf. You are going to want to keep building and refining this list over the years. When Angelina Jolie sends you a little note saying, “Loved this book,” put her on the list. If one of your state senators is a cousin, put him on the list. Keep growing this list.
Readers: It’s never too early to develop your data base of readers or potential readers. If you speak, always have a door prize so you can collect names and addresses– both home addresses and email addresses, if possible. If you have a website, see if you can offer a place to sign-up for a quarterly newsletter. If you meet someone who loves the topic you are writing on, get their contact info. This list will grow as your career grows and it is one of your most valuable collections. Later, as readers write you, always enter their names in the database. You’ll use this list to send out bookmarks and tell of coming releases.
Characters: It doesn’t matter if you are writing fiction or nonfiction, you need to collect interesting characters and their stories. You’ll want to set up files for these. Again, don’t rely on memory. Trust me, it won’t be there when you go to retrieve if it isn’t written down.
Those are just a few of the people you’ll want to collect. Why is it important to start even before you are published? I’ve worked with a number of authors who’ve written for decades and never collected names. It’s impossible to go back and try to recreate. All those potential people are forever lost to them. If you set up these systems from the get-go, you’ll build that all-imortant readership with the very first name. You’ll have all your systems set and ready to go. It’s all about people.
Someday you’ll thank me. In fact, you can put me on the acknowledgement list right now. 😉
Your turn. How are you coming your people collection? What do YOU think is the most important thing a writer can do pre-publication?
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What is the most important thing a writer can do in the pre-pub stage? Click to Tweet