Networking 101: Get Back to the Basics

As ironic as it may sound, I often struggle with this whole self-publishing process—being I’m no different than you or the next person. I spent the time alone (like you) soul-searching and meditating, pondering and simply thinking about the choice to release my own title and in the end I was pleased with why I chose to take this particular literary path.

And here I am responsible for a weekly column to help offer something insightful, helpful and motivational to all those would-be authors working to publish and promote their novels—and in the end—it’s harder than the actual book creation process.

Believe that or not. Quite simply, it’s hard sometimes to come up with something new, something trendy and something that will help set you apart. Sometimes you just have to get down to the basics of simple networking and introduce yourself and your book to a stranger and talk…just like you once did when you dreamed of getting where you are today.

It’s hard because there is only so much you can do with your time and money to help advance the life of your book. And if you are like me, funds are limited and you have to research thoroughly before investing your money to help market and promote your work properly.

Over the course of this column I will offer more helpful tidbits of information to help you cut the appropriate corners and follow-through when necessary but this week I wanted to focus on something that might help relieve the tension of any real financial burden and in the end, allow you to simply be yourself—and still promote yourself and your book.

Depending upon who you chose to use as the “printer” or “manufacturer” of your book there should be (or better be) a discounted price for the author. The particular company I opted to create my finished product allows me to purchase author/publisher copies of my book at an excellent discounted rate.

And if you weigh out the cost of purchasing your own copies in comparison to what you might pay for some first-rate marketing or advertisement space on the Internet or elsewhere, it is in your favor to consider this option: Give one copy away every week to someone you don’t know and who doesn’t know you and introduce yourself as an up-and-coming author who is trying to connect with readers.

I promise you this much: it’s a marketing tip that really cannot fail you. And if you consider the gamble you take with paying for advertisement, that’s a great return-on-investment!

I told myself [that] I would keep a viable stock of copies of Proud Souls at my side and every week I would find one person I have never met and introduce myself as the author of the title. I usually start with something like this: “Hello, my name is Bobby Ozuna and I’m a writer. I am curious to know if you like reading.”

People almost always say yes. Next I hand them over the copy of my book and ask them if they would be interested in reading it—with no strings attached.

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At this point I am not trying to be a salesman but an advocate for my art, allowing my inner personal passion to come forth—the same passion I have when talking about my favorite authors, movies or to be honest (without being vain) my writing.

Usually at that point the door has been opened for conversation and the questions begin to flow, questions or comments like:

How did you do it?

I’ve always wanted to write.

I’ve never met an author before!

Use this opportunity as a chance to allow a stranger inside and talk with them. Let them know the real you. Chances are they are going to go home and tell someone (because people LOVE telling others about that important someone they met) and go a step further and sign the book for them!

Ask them their name and ask them to write you when their done or even better (hint, hint) post their thoughts on for the entire world to read! You never know who that particular person might be—maybe a moderator for a small book club in your neighborhood, or a professor in a university looking for a new book for their future courses or maybe a columnist who is always on the lookout for the next-best-thing.

I know you may be thinking, if I give the book away, that’s a sale I have just lost! But that’s not necessarily true. Networking shouldn’t be about selling books so much as it should be about selling yourself as an individual.

In the end, there are tons of great book to compete with in the marketplace but how many great people are there willing to listen to the readers of the world who are actually buying the books? You have to ask yourself this: Would they have known me well enough to buy my book before I introduced myself?

Also ask: Could I walk up to a complete stranger and ask them to buy my book just because I asked? Weigh out the cost of a book-per-week and multiply that by 52 weeks and I promise you, the investment will be worth your time.

You will be able to say you met (a minimum of) 52 new friends, people who didn’t know you before, and if your book is good, I can assure you they will tell a friend or more about how they met the author of this great and wonderful book and even had it signed to them personally! Being successful in your own backyard is the first step towards gaining exposure outside your comfort zone!

I hope this helps. Get out there and make new friends, share your art with the world and I promise, the world will share its love and appreciation for you in return…it’s only a matter of when, not if.

Remember, I believe…because you believe!

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