3 Great Tips for Authors on Networking

Today’s guest post is by Nick Thacker–author, blogger, and encourager! Take a look at these tips on online marketing and hear what he’s learned as an author trying to promote his novels online.

When I ran a business during college and the first few years after, I spent a lot of time networking. Not only did I try networking through the business organizations on campus, I also attended quite a few networking events in and around my community. I’ve been to large-scale events that hold 400+ booths, but also local Chamber of Commerce meeting luncheons.

All of the events were fun—I learned a lot, engaged and interacted with other business owners, and I got to experience firsthand what I’d been taught in the handful of business courses I’d taken: Generally, people are bad at networking.

Learn Some Good Habits

Really bad.
Not just bad, like fidgety or uncomfortable talking to people, but bad as in “throwing-business-cards-at-me-like-they-were-ninja-stars” bad. I probably don’t need to tell you that most of these people, while good-intentioned, weren’t very successful in the long run. When I wrote my first book and began trying to build a writing platform, I discovered some of the same habits and behaviors in the world of book marketing that I’d seen in offline networking.

3 Simple Tips to Avoid Turning People Off

Below is a brief list of the main points I feel every author should try to abide by when they set out to promote themselves (and yes, I do strongly encourage you to self-promote!):

  1. Don’t be annoying. The first step to building a successful platform is to never be annoying, rude, or unhelpful. Always add value—online, through social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest—and offline, at networking events like in-store signings and writers’ workshops. A neat trick for online promotion is to only promote your own stuff 20% of the time and the work of other people at least 80% of the time. Better yet, join a community of like-minded people who can help you learn, grow, and hold you accountable.
  2. Don’t think that writing a book is enough. You know what? I realized when I finished my book that there are a lot of people who’d already written a book too. It wasn’t as “special” as I thought (excluding my mom and grandparents’ reactions, of course). As an author in the 21st century, you NEED to be writing online–blogging, forums, Twitter, whatever. If you don’t, there’s going to be some other guy who’s written some book (probably not even as good as yours, ’cause that’s how these things work) who’ll go the extra mile and do a ton of promotion. Remember that for authors, online networking means “making meaningful connections with others, to create a mutually beneficial relationship.”
  3. You can’t do everything. “Shiny Object Syndrome” can be a tricky beast to overcome, but you need to stay focused on the things that will truly matter. Always look to add value wherever you are, but know, too, that you can’t update your Facebook profile, Goodreads account, Twitter feed, and blog, and simultaneously guest post at fifty other sites while writing your manuscript for the next book in the series. You’ll get burnt out very quickly (trust me, I’ve been there). Instead, focus on a “home base” that you can point your network to, and “branch out” into smaller connection points, like Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you’re struggling to make enough time for it all, temporarily cut back to your writing and your home base.

There’s certainly a lot more to networking online, especially for us authors, who have more and more piled on our plates and less time in which to get it all done. But if you start from the foundational understanding of what it means to add value, build relationships, and help people in a mutual and genuine way, you’ll already be one step ahead of the “ninja star” marketers out there who just want your money.

One Last Piece of Advice

If I could offer you any encouragement, I would echo what J. A. Konrath so eloquently put it on his blog: If you get discouraged, disheartened, or feel like your networking efforts just aren’t working, stop. Focus on writing great books, great content, or great whatever.

Konrath has pinpointed the main cause of his success as writing a lot and having a backlist. You words are your asset—no one can take them from you like they can a house, a boat, or a possession. As long as you build your asset and continuously add to its value, eventually it will pay off. Take these steps and add to them—make them your own. I heard once that the best advice is the advice you actually implement. Go make this the best advice you’ve ever received!

Nick Thacker is a blogger, writer, and author of fiction thriller novels. He blogs at LiveHacked.com, a site focused on helping authors develop their writing platform. Sign up for the his LiveHacked newsletter here! And take his free Fiction Writer’s Guide to Writing Fiction, an awesome 20-week e-course on planning, writing, and editing your novel.

52 Responses to “3 Great Tips for Authors on Networking”

  1. Amanda Stephan May 28, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Great post. I especially liked the ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’. That one really speaks to me as I have a tendency to get sidetracked because I’m doing about five online things at once. Not a good idea, I assure you. I’ve found that if I concentrate on the building relationships aspect, it helps me not feel overwhelmed and helps keep me focused. Thanks for the insightful article.

    • Nick Thacker May 28, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Hey Amanda!

      Thanks for the comment–yeah, it can be tough to stay focused, with so many routes and pathways to the same goal, but if you can focus on just building great relationships, you’re good to go!

      Nick

  2. Wing May 28, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Good goodwill.

    Clear layout using the magic number of three as in Trinity etc.

  3. Lisa Mason May 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Great advice! Building up a body of work is definitely key. And I must say, Internet promoting sometimes gets me down because it seems endless. Every day I discover a hundred new sites. Like this one, for instance! So I’m trying to stay focused on the core venues, as Nick suggests. Time is the most precious thing we’ve got in life.

    • Nick Thacker May 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Haha, that’s a great point! It certainly can seem endless. My advice has always been: focus on the one or two things you’re REALLY good at and passionate about, and try to make as many connections as possible while doing so!

      Thanks for the comment, Lisa–appreciated!

      Nick

  4. Michele Chynoweth May 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Dear Nick,
    I enjoyed your post and am right there – my first book (The Faithful One) was just published, the second (The Peace Maker) is under contract and I have all these ideas in my head for the third one. Meanwhile, I work as a marketing director 40 hours a week, have a husband, 5 kids, a dog, a house…and I’m terrible at technology. However, I did start a blog – and only have a few followers. So I’ll make you a deal – you follow my blog and I’ll follow yours. (If I can figure it out!) When I get discouraged, I think I’ll just start writing my third novel! All the best,
    Michele (my blog: michelechynoweth1@wordpress.com

    • Nick Thacker May 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Hey Michele!

      Sounds like a pretty good deal! Congrats on the books too!

      Talk to you soon,
      Nick

  5. Lisa Orchard May 29, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    This is great advice! Thanks for posting! 🙂

  6. Patti Mallett May 29, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    You do a great job, Nick. Of all the blogs I follow, you are the only one who sends me mail, etc. That said, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of Stuff out there. I am a slow Worker Bee and everything that has to DO WITH writing takes me away from what I want to be doing, writing.

    My question to this helpful post is this: Is Facebook an acceptable Home Base? It’s the main way I connect with people and build relationships. (I dabble in Twitter but have nothing set up so contact with others is minimal.)

    The last quote is, for me, the most helpful thing of all. I do feel overwhelmed and would like to mainly work on my book. Without a good book, all of the social networking is, well, kind of like landscaping the house you hope to one day buy, and then watching the new owners move in.

    • Nick Thacker May 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      Thanks, Patti! Hopefully, those emails I send are somewhat helpful–I hate getting spammy stuff in the inbox. That said, it’s a GREAT way to connect with people on a more personal level and really start making friends.

      You know, I’m not going to say you CAN’T use Facebook as a home base, but I don’t recommend it. My opinion is that what you’ll get from Facebook you can (at least eventually) build on your own site.

      However, the biggest “problem” I see with any platform other than something you have complete control over is that it can change/go away/disappear at any time–it’s not “owned” by you.

      I realize Facebook probably isn’t “going anywhere,” but remember–MySpace and LiveJournal haven’t “gone anywhere” either (neither has Napster, CDBaby, etc.). My point is that as the web grows and changes (as it no doubt will), we must grow and change with it–and having our “own” section of the internet to call home seems to be a much more long-term and reliable investment compared to the ever-changing whims of social sites and anything owned by someone else.

      You know, this is turning into quite a comment–I’m wondering if it would be better write up as a post?

      Thanks for the question(s); as for the last thing you mentioned–that’s a good point as well. I have some thoughts on it (surprise surprise!), but I’ll save those for my “own” home base!

      Cheers,
      Nick

  7. Sandra Beckwith May 29, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Thanks for the excellent advice, Nick! This part made me laugh:

    “I realized when I finished my book that there are a lot of people who’d already written a book too.”

    It’s a great reminder!

    Sandy Beckwith

    • Nick Thacker May 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      Hey Sandra!

      Thanks for the tweets, and for commenting. It does seem funny, but I honestly thought that exact thing to myself when I finished.

      It was definitely an “oh, duh,” moment for me, but it’s certainly helped me focus and hone in on my message and branding strategy.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Nick

  8. Matt May 29, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Good advice. I’ve written the book, but I feel like a fish out of water with the networking thing. It can be really frustrating; I just have to prep myself for the long slow slog.

    • Nick Thacker May 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Hey Matt!

      Take it slow–the “hard” part of writing a book is done, and that’s where 99% of us get caught.

      Just focus on adding value. To start, find the convergence point between:

      1. Where your target readers hang out
      2. Where you like to hang out

      Hopefully there’s some overlap (otherwise, it will be a long, hard journey!), and when you find it, just try to promote as much of everyone else’s work as you can, and try to give them a hand with their projects and writing and stuff!

      Hope this helps!
      Nick

  9. Terra May 29, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Thanks Nick for these tips, and to Suzanne for posting them; I like the shiny object syndrome tip.

    • Nick Thacker May 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Careful, do you like “shiny objects” or just the tip about avoiding them?

      Haha, I’m kidding–thanks for stopping by!
      Nick

  10. cslakin May 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Nick, thanks so much for popping in and chatting with those leaving comments. thanks for the helpful post. A lot of people are commenting on LinkedIn as well.

    • Nick Thacker June 4, 2012 at 10:17 am #

      Thanks for having me! Could you post a link to the LinkedIn discussion?

      Thanks,
      Nick

  11. Lynette M Burrows May 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Oh, yeah. Shiny Objects victim here. Got to look away from the shiny stuff!

    Seriously, please do write the post on why Facebook shouldn’t be home base for networking. Do you mean that a author’s blog should be home base? What do you mean by home base? See, I’ve got all kinds of questions about that topic and could use some guidance.

    Thanks for posting these tips.

    • Dawn May 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

      Thank you for those tips!! I think I’ve been running myself ragged trying to read TOO many books on how to get published, and they all lead me in different directions. As a result, my book is becoming something I didn’t START with.

      • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 9:42 am #

        Hi Dawn!

        No problem–I know how it is; it’s much easier to read advice than it is to implement it, so we can easily get sidetracked by all of the awesome (however differing) information on the subject.

        Just look for the clarity in what you’re doing (“why” you are “doing” it, etc.) and go from there! Chances are, you’ve already got more than enough information to lead you down the right path, you just need be asking the right questions!

        Good luck, and talk to you soon!
        Nick

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 9:39 am #

      Hi Lynette–

      I’ll write that post this weekend! Look for it on my site (livehacked.com) next week!

      Those are GREAT questions, and again, it’s just my opinion that authors (any creative professional, really) should be using the great resources provided by a full-fledged blog.

      Thanks for the idea!
      Nick

  12. Cliff May 30, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    Thank you for your tips.
    As fiction writers, how do we add value?
    If I were a non-fiction writer, that would be easy, for example, if I teach writing, I could give tons of tips about writing stories.
    But as fiction writers, what do I blog about? What do I share through Facebook or Twitter? Other than announcing a new book?
    Since I’m promoting AIDS awareness through my Fatal Seductions series, do I write about STDs?

    • cslakin May 30, 2012 at 5:22 am #

      Great points. Yes, fiction writers can blog and write guest articles and posts on topics that are theme-related to their novels. You have the perfect topic to write about! You can offer helpful info, and leave the book promoting to your byline at the end of the post with links to your site and books. That is the way many novelists get interest in their books.

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Hey Cliff!

      Great questions–thanks for taking the time to ask them.

      Like cslakin mentioned, ANY “writer” (leaving that open to people who draw, blog, write books, sculpt, build businesses, etc.) can help somebody with something.

      In your case, sure–why not talk about your feelings on STDs in a way that can help others find answers.

      Since you’ve written (or are writing a book), you also have more experience than others who have NO IDEA how to get started. Let me explain it this way:

      If you were a 7-year old kid wanting to play baseball, and had the opportunity to be coached by the Yankees coach, what do you think you’d be able to learn from him? Obviously, he’s a world-class coach who could teach you a few things, but why couldn’t you just learn the same stuff from your dad/cousin/friend, simply by playing catch in the backyard.

      My point is this: you don’t need to be an “expert” in something, or even a trained “teacher” in that particular field to help someone learn something about it.

      On my blog, I don’t “teach” from a perspective of “here’s how to do it the RIGHT and BEST way” because I honestly and openly don’t know how. What I DO know, better than ANYONE else, though, is what I did and how it worked for me.

      So my platform is from the standpoint of a guy who wants to better his writing, life, and creativity, by DOING those things, and then writing about it.

      When you look at it like that, it’s pretty broad and should be easier to find a great subject to offer insight about!

      Again, thanks for commenting, and since your question was one that’s come up numerous times before, I think I’m going to devote a few blog posts to the subject on my own site. Stick around!

      Thanks,
      Nick

  13. Lisa MacDougall May 30, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    Thanks Suzanne and Nick. I am really glad I found this! I agree with Lisa Mason that the Interet can really get a person bogged down. It is so easy to lose a couple of hours thinking you are getting somewhere when, in reality, you are moving away from what is most important. These are all good tips and the timing is serendipitous because I was just coming to the realization that I cannot do everything in the limited time I have each day and that I have to pull myself back to the most important work.

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      If only we could do everything we wanted in only a day!

      …but that would take the fun out of “prioritizing our lives” (yeah, right!)

      Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll talk to you soon!
      Nick

  14. Carla R. Herrera May 30, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Great post and great advice. Thanks.

  15. Gaye Mack May 31, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    Susan and Nick, thank you so much for this post…I was just thinking ‘overwhelmed’ when I picked it up off of the Crime Writer’s Linkedin group. The stress between creating a well crafted piece, the competitive push to build ‘a better platform’ and the massive abundance of online options gets out of control very easily…your advice to step back is so valuable for mental overload. Years ago a therapist colleague of mine told me that when her female clients got overwhelmed with multi-tasking in the head she would tell them, ‘pick up the vacuum’…I can attest that it works.

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 9:56 am #

      Thanks, Gaye!

      I’ve never been a huge fan of multi-tasking, mainly because I can’t figure out how to get it to work!

      Thanks for the comment, and for stopping by!
      Nick

  16. Jordan L. Hawk May 31, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Great post, especially the point on pulling back to “home base” for a while if it starts to get overwhelming. I think most of us suffer from the “do all the things all the time!” syndrome, which isn’t sustainable. I have to remind myself that taking a few days away from Twitter to finish a book doesn’t make me a failure.

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      I try to maintain a steady stream of “home base” activity, and I’m feeling up to it, only then will I “venture out” and start posting to my “outposts.”

      It sounds silly, but when you think about it, having that constant stream of “home base” activity really keeps things moving all by itself!

      Thanks for reading!

  17. LK Watts June 1, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Online networking means “making meaningful connections with others, to create a mutually beneficial relationship.”

    I’m going to make a note of this and mention it to the next person who constantly spams me with messages of ‘buy my book, buy my book.’ Even now there are still some people who think that’s ‘networking.’

    If you see my Twitter profile you’ll see I’ll retweet blogs like this one over and over again. 9 out of 10 tweets are what I consider ‘useful’ information. Then I’ll ocassionally tweet links to my book as well.

    Great blog, Nick. Thanks once again!

    @wattslk

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks, LK!

      That’s a great strategy, and I do the same!
      Nick

  18. Jane Ann McLachlan June 1, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    Hey Nick,
    Good tips – basic, as you say, but well-stated.
    What really impressed me is that you have replied to every comment. I’ve never seen anyone else do that. I think that practice-what-you-preach example is the best tip of all.

    I do wonder what you mean by “home base” though. Like, if you if you like LinkedIn, that’s your home base, but do some Fb & twit as well, Or if you like Goodreads, make that your home base? Or am I completely off base here?

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Jane, thanks for the comment. I like to respond to every one because that always impressed me as well when I was getting started with blogging.

      As for your question, I think I’m going to blog about that on my site this coming week, because I really do believe that we should be using our own, personal space online as a “home base,” rather than a social account or another person’s website.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Nick

  19. cslakin June 1, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    So, I try to spend one hour each morning to take care of my e-mail, respond to the dozens of comments coming through on LinkedIn, and then thanking all who retweet my Twitter posts. I often start engaging in conversation on Twitter, and that leads into all kinds of things–people buying and reviewing my novels, or hiring me to edit their book. But it’s not even just about showing up in networking. it’s your attitude. I love to help writers. I love to inspire readers with my novels. My first thought is never “How can I get them to buy something.”

    I believe in Jesus’s words that it is more blessed to give than receive. Paying it forward, with sincerity, always brings it back around. We are so blessed to have this new world of Internet social marketing, because we can find like souls and connect all over the world. My husband is always amazed that I have clients all over the world whom I never talk to and who pay me large sums of money to edit or critique their books. These almost always become my new BFF and I am so blessed to have dozens of these friends I look forward to meeting someday. So think about giving, being an encouragement to someone else, and just share who you are and what you’ve learned or experienced. Genuiness is everything. The “success” and “fame” will take care of themselves.

    • Nick Thacker June 1, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Good points, cs!

      Definitely awesome point mentioning Jesus and the “pay it forward” principle. Also, I do believe that success (however we define it) will take care of itself using the “help others” and adding value formula.

      Thanks for having me, and I’ll be around soon!
      Nick

  20. Ebony Adedayo June 1, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Great tips! I have especially learned the value in promoting the work of others over and above my own. Sometimes that takes a great deal of intentionality but it is very doable. Thanks for posting.

    • Nick Thacker June 4, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      Hi Ebony!

      Thanks for reading, and for the nice comment–this stuff is certainly doable, but it’s hard to do it sometimes when there’s so much ELSE we’re supposed to be doing!

  21. John H. Harbison June 3, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Thanks for the post, Nick. I have my first book coming out at the end of July and am just a beginner at networking/marketing. This helps.

    • Nick Thacker June 4, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      Hi John!

      Awesome–congratulations on finishing! When it comes out, be sure to let me know (email or Twitter), so I can check it out!

      I’ve also got a book coming out at the end of June on building a marketing platform as an author–might be helpful as well!

      Thanks!
      Nick

  22. Candy Korman June 10, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    First do no harm…

    It’s amazing how many writers I’ve met who resent having to promote their books. It’s part of the game and a bad attitude gets you no where.

    Thanks for the cogent reminder of how its done!

    • Nick Thacker June 25, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks, Candy–it is part of the game, especially since “just writing” isn’t good enough anymore. Literally anyone can publish a book in almost no time at all, so the barrier for entry is almost nonexistent!

      Thanks!
      Nick

  23. Gary McLaren June 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Hi Nick, I enjoyed this post. It contains some excellent advice. It is often difficult for writers to find the balance between writing the books and working on the platform, but your final piece of advice is spot on: Get writing. Write, write, write.

    • Nick Thacker June 25, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks, Gary! Glad you liked it!

      Writing is the key–if you don’t have any writing to promote, there’s no sense promoting! BUT it’s also not quite enough to “just write!”

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Nick

  24. Sandy Bornstein August 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Nick, Thanks for your encouraging words. My first book will be out this fall and I’m trying to find a balance between my writing and learning how to promote my writing. Starting from ground zero can be a steep climb. Gaining a blog audience is a slow and steady endeavor. Hopefully, the advice I receive from people like you will improve my learning curve, decrease the intensity of the climb, and help me enjoy my journey. Thanks again for your advice.

  25. Shawn Spjut August 5, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    C.S.
    Great post. I’ve been advocating for a longtime that building a community, adding value and promoting others is the only way to build a long term platform that will keep a writer in the running for years to come. Those that connect to sell become old fast. If all you have to say to me is how great you are,well I have parents and family who do that… bye, bye.

  26. Marla Madison August 6, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    Great post. Reaffirms the most important principles. I learned the hard way I couldn’t do everything! Now I stick to mainly Twitter and Blogging (FB, but not a lot of time on it) because those are the two that make the most sense to me and I don’t mind spending time on.
    If you dislike a certain kind of networking, you won’t be using it effectively!

  27. Elizabeth February 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Perfect timing and perfect advice. Love don’t be annoying. How many times authors will ask for a like me/buy me without even “How you doing today?” or “I found this site that might interest you?” Really great advice, thank you.

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