Selling books isn't just about making them available – it's increasingly about encouraging customer loyalty not only by making your books the best they can be, but also by building rapport with your readers. Meghan Harvey, Executive Director of Independent Publishing at Girl Friday Productions, an ALLi Partner Member, offers advice on how to do just that.
Why You Need to Build Rapport with Your Readers
If you want to sell books, you need to grab the attention of your readers. But in the flooded book-publishing landscape, rising above the competitive fracas to capture your readers’ attention is increasingly challenging.
Meanwhile, you must remember that your readers are, more broadly speaking, consumers with dollars to spend. It’s worthwhile to poke your head up out of the bookshelf and recognize how many different companies are trying to compete for your readers’ dollars. What are those companies doing to reach your reader? The trend is this:
Brands are becoming more and more “human”—assuming a personal voice, providing behind-the-scenes access, giving to you rather than asking for things from you. All these strategies involve the deployment of proven psychological tactics that have to do with how we strengthen our bonds and loyalty to one another and, by extension, the goods and brands we love.
How to Build Rapport with Your Readers
So how can you, the author, go about building this rapport to deepen the loyalty your readers and potential readers have with you? Here are four key ways:
Meet your consumers’ expectations
If you’re trying to sell a product (your book is your product) to the same people as other marketers are (hint: you are), and you’re not bringing your A game, good luck getting people’s attention.
For example, buyers expect to be able to read books in whatever format they want to—when alternative formats aren’t available, it’s annoying to the purchaser. Buyers want seamless points of purchase, because companies like Amazon have made one-click buying so easy; a clunky interface on your website will send people packing.
Making your book available in the right places and paying attention to the ease of the consumer journey is basic and necessary.
Let your readers’ standards guide you on everything—from cover design to editorial quality to retail pricing and availability to the quality of your visuals on social media.
Listening isn’t optional
We are far beyond the days of megaphone marketing. Buyers sniff that out so quickly and react rather negatively to the hard sell (don’t you?)
Instead, the principle of good book marketing—and good marketing in general—in 2019 will be creating and deepening your relationships with your readers.
The internet is not a bullhorn; it’s your coffee shop, your dining room table, your local bookstore, and you’re sitting across this space from people, trying to form relationships. How do you do that?
- By asking open-ended questions and listening deeply
- By being vulnerable and authentic about who you are
Even “matching and mirroring” the behavior and tone of others is a component of good listening—and a powerful rapport-builder. Define your reader persona first, then go find and engage with them exclusively as a follower first. Steep yourself in their interests, tone, and stories before you ever try to pipe up with a link to buy your book.
Giving isn’t optional either
Giving—without an agenda—is another cornerstone of building great relationships.
- Giving can be as simple as retweeting another person’s book-launch post
- It can be commenting with heartfelt support on another’s vulnerable post
- It can be actively helping point people to resources that they need in your area of expertise
- It can also be more tangible, like offering a free copy of your ebook for a day to your Twitter followers exclusively
Whatever it is, it must be without strings attached, or it will come across as insincere.
Run it like a marathon, not a sprint
I am certainly not the first person to say this about book marketing. But the marathon idea is rooted in the fact that your job out there is to build relationships. Find your tribe and follow them. Be a real person.
Don’t expect them to marry you after the first date.
OVER TO YOU What tactics have you found successful in building relationships with your readers? We'd love to hear about what works best for you.#Authors - how to build great relationships with your readers in a genuine and sincere way that will turn them into loyal customers - by @meggsaladpdx of @GirlFridayProd Click To Tweet
OTHER GREAT POSTS ABOUT IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS WITH READERS
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive