I’m considered a hybrid author. I’ve been with big publishers, smaller e-first presses, and now indie. In my experience, the only certainty with marketing is that the playing field is constantly changing. One year we’re all pushing Yahoo forum groups, then Myspace, now Facebook.
Yes, self-publishing has made it easier to put out a book, but keeping a consistent income in light of industry changes, marketing ups and downs, and what feels like a flooded marketplace can be difficult. There are many things we can’t control.
So what’s an author to do when faced with this journey? Having allies to navigate the waters will make flowing with the changes easier.
After being in the ever-changing publishing world for close to 15 years, there is one tried-and-true marketing effort that has remained consistent—networking. I’m not just talking about going to conferences and meeting editors and agents to get those publishing deals. I’m talking about a vast resource of other professionally minded authors.
When I began funds were limited, and I had to seek out opportunities to reach readers in an affordable and inventive way. Networking helped me implement many grassroots marketing efforts that had big payoff.
In a competitive marketplace, friendships matter.
Being an author is hard. Let me rephrase that. Being a working professional author who lasts more than a few years is incredibly hard. If you’re in this line of work as a career, then you’ll need perseverance. It becomes necessary to surround yourself with authors who share the same work philosophy and goals as you. With time, you will find author friends who gel well with your personality and your work ethics.
A great part of cultivating relationships with other authors is that you’re able to pool your resources. For example, a sale of 30 books for the holidays will attract more readers than a sale of one. Plus with everyone promoting the sale page that means more visibility for all.
When I first started, I met the very talented Mandy M. Roth. We both share the same drive for success and the idea that it’s much easier to make it in this business if we’re not doing it alone. Since the beginning, we have co-organized many group projects, and run a private author marketing group. Through these endeavors, we have organized multi-author box sets, group sales and giveaways, online scavenger hunts, newsletter sign up drives, and countless other promo pushes. The best part, these can all be done with an investment of time, and minimal out-of-pocket costs. In return, authors share their experiences and promo opportunities with us. It’s win-win.
Also for the last 8 years I’ve done author interviews for Paranormal Underground Magazine, giving authors free promotion. It’s not a paid position, but through it I’ve had an excuse to meet and talk to authors I normally wouldn’t cross paths with. This has made my network even wider, and I’ve actually been offered non-fiction book contracts from a publisher because of it. So, investing time and giving back to the author community by offering free interviews has paid off in many ways.
It’s easier to row a boat if we’re all going in the same direction.
My best advice for finding your network of people, and joining group projects, is to be choosy. Don’t say yes to everything. And seek out networks with authors who have a similar purpose, and goals. Everyone needs to be rowing in the same direction and putting the same amount of work in.
Ask yourself: What promo opportunities can I offer others? What group efforts can I organize? Who can I ask to be involved? How have other authors helped or inspired me through the years?
Have you ever collaborated with other authors? I’d love to read your answers and thoughts below!
Michelle M. Pillow is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling, award-winning author writing in multiple romance genres and cozy mystery. She is considered a hybrid author, having been published by Penguin Random House, Virgin Books, Adam’s Media, Pocket Books, smaller e-first publishers, and indie.
Michelle loves to travel and try new things, whether it’s a paranormal investigation of an old Vaudeville Theatre or climbing Mayan temples in Belize. She is best known for the series of books in her science fiction Qurilixen world: Dragon Lords, Lords of the Var, and Captured by a Dragon-shifter; the magically mischievous Warlocks MacGregor; and the award-winning historical romance Maiden and the Monster.
You can find her online at:
Great post!!! Thank you for being such a great supporter of new authors! As someone who learned how to build promos in your marketing group and earned letters in one of your sets I feel really grateful to you and Mandy!
<3 Thank you!
I couldn’t agree more! Networking is such an important part of successful marketing. Great post, Michelle!
Great article! Being surrounded by successful and like-minded people can only lift you up in the business.
Well said, Michelle. I agree with you. Having allies is so important these days! A very good post!
Thank you 🙂
Great post. Thank you Michelle and Mandy for all you do to help other authors. You ladies are amazing.
<3 Thank you NJ. We're lucky to have great writers to work with on this journey.
To state the obvious: I saw your last name pop up on my WordPress Reader and thought, “Hmm, I wonder if this is one of my long lost relatives,” being that the name “Pillow” tends to be very rare out in the wild.
Aside from that, I enjoyed this piece, and would agree that the company you keep is very much crucial in the writing world. Some of the biggest voices in support of my writing are writers I’ve met along the way — some published, others not.
Good to meet you, Pillow. LOL
Finding creatives who understand the writing process (and the fact that I often have conversations with characters) has been a live saver for me over the years.