Posting on social media is easy. Becoming a devoted follower and friend to top influencers online is a little more difficult. Taking things to the next level by providing a service to the authors you care about is something that few people are willing to do.
Creating a piece of art with no guaranteed return on investment is something most authors are familiar with, but expending dozens of hours of time and days worth of energy on a project that may have no chance of directly benefiting you sounds like a crazy suggestion for us to make. But without risk, there’s no reward. In this fourth installment of the author networking series, we’re going to tell three stories about authors who made major strides in their career after putting in tons of work for other people. We hope that these tales will inspire you to come up with your own projects to help others and the market as a whole. Here are three authors who went above and beyond in providing a service:
1. J. Thorn
J. Thorn is an Amazon Top 100 Horror Author who’s always been interested in giving back to others. He’s shared his tactics on numerous podcasts, and he’s constantly trying new things to push the industry forward. Unsurprisingly, it’s this generous attitude that helped to make him a self-publishing influencer in the first place.
J is a smart guy, and through his non-writing jobs, he became an expert in writing HTML code. While many of you may not realize this, the Mobi and ePub files you use for publishing are essentially HTML at their core. Being an HTML wiz, J formatted his ebooks by hand before submitting them to Amazon and the other platforms.
About two years ago, J had the idea that he could put this skill to good use. He contacted other horror authors in his genre and asked if they’d be interested in joining a multi-author box set. J offered to do all the formatting himself and deal with all the financial backend as well.
Not only did J connect with dozens of bestselling authors through his efforts, but the books did incredibly well. The box sets helped to sell his other books, and before you know it, people were reaching out to J, not the other way around.
J was willing to do the dirty work of formatting. He took a task that nobody wanted to deal with, and he turned it into an opportunity. Rewards in the form of lasting sales and connections followed his tenacious efforts.
2. Nick Stephenson
Thriller author and marketer Nick Stephenson was a lot like most of you out there a year and a half ago. He tried everything under the sun to make his books sell. Unlike most, however, he kept a watchful eye and took extensive notes to see what worked and what didn’t. When one of his crazy ideas actually worked, he didn’t keep it to himself. Nick shared his results on Facebook, his blog, and later in a book called Supercharge Your Kindle Sales.
Despite finding success at promoting his books, Nick continued to experiment and learn how to refine his process. Not only did he share his tactics on all the major self-publishing podcasts, but he also provided free video content to anybody who gave him their email address.
Nick continued to build up his lists through free trainings and webinars before launching his own course on everything he’d learned. Eventually, all his experiments, his sharing of free data, and his transparent demonstration of strategy led to a very successful launch of his product.
Nick tested every possible marketing method to find one that worked, but his efforts weren’t even close to being finished. He resolved to teach others how to benefit from what he learned. From there, he put in the long hours to create a product to further help people while providing a reliable income for himself.
Nick’s story teaches us that when you provide value and keep providing it, that value will be returned to you ten fold.
3. Bryan Cohen
Bryan Cohen is a young adult sci-fi/fantasy author and the co-host of the Sell More Books Show with Author Marketing Institute founder Jim Kukral. Two years ago, Bryan didn’t have a single novel to his name and his nonfiction sales were down across the board. He wasn’t sure if it was worth continuing down the author path until he learned about the concept of Multi-Author Facebook Events from an interview with Tim Long on the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast.
Bryan came from a background of theatre production and wondered if he could apply his producing skills to digital events as well. He networked with over a dozen authors to organize a one-day sale and spent nearly a hundred hours to make sure it was as good as it could be. The event was a smashing success, selling over a thousand books for the participants and forging connections with authors like Steve Scott and Sean Platt.
Word of Bryan’s success also got Jim Kukral’s attention, and when Jim decided to start a new podcast, Bryan became one of the top candidates. A year later, Bryan has become an influencer in the self-publishing industry through the popular podcast and several more successful Facebook events. While these social media happenings took a lot of effort, the returns Bryan has seen from that hard work has been more than worth it.
When you have a skill that translates to marketing, you should go above and beyond to make it work for as many people as possible. Sharing your talents will often lead to other authors knowing your name and wanting to work with you.
What Will Your Story Be?
What kind of service are you willing to provide for others? How can you make your efforts stand out from the crowd? How will your hard work help you to connect with influencers?
When you can sit down and answer those three questions, you may just have a solution that will be worth more than a thousand posts or tweets. It’s not always about working harder. Sometimes you need to work smarter, and when it’s done the right way, giving something back may be the most intelligent networking task you can possibly do.