In the same way that auditioning is part of the job for actors, self-promotion is important for writers. It’s a great way to make vital connections and keep your name out there. Networking is a powerful tool for anyone who is creative, an author, or a business leader. One of the best tools you can use is LinkedIn.
Many of us aren’t comfortable on social media, but LinkedIn is a bit different. It’s a networking site that offers other benefits than Twitter, Facebook or Instagram does. On LinkedIn, you’re talking to people who are in your industry, or industry adjacent. You can reach out professionally and feel comfortable using it as a networking tool in ways that you can’t on other social media platforms.
Some writers feel uncomfortable with promoting themselves on the regular social media channels. It can feel very forced, or like you’re bragging. Asking to make connections can feel like asking for favors. On a site like LinkedIn, however, that’s the whole point. Everyone expects you to put your best foot forward and show them what you’ve got. It takes a lot of the uncomfortable feeling out of it.
Joining the Site
If you haven’t signed up yet for LinkedIn, know that you can do so for free, plus there are paid options that give you more networking capabilities. You probably want to start with the free version. With it, you get to post your resume, your work history, push your accomplishments and reach out to people without the feeling that you’re asking for a favor. You can post pictures, links to your Amazon author page, videos you’ve created, and more.
Once you’ve completed your profile, you can start looking for connections. The site has the ability to see which of your contacts are on there and you can send an invitation. People who used LinkedIn get them all the time, and it’s not going to seem like any sort of imposition.
One of the things that is going to help your brand and your publicist the most is knowing who your connections are. On a site like this, there is nothing untoward about sending a connection invitation to authors you admire, reviews or influencers. Yes, you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram, but sending a DM to someone who doesn’t follow you back can feel off. Here, it doesn’t. It’s expected. Having a large network of connections is a good thing, even for those at the top of their game. You’re not asking for a date here. You’re just reaching out.
Many of us think of LinkedIn as the odd person out in the social media realm, but if you’re in the arts, it’s really not. Think about the difference between sending a friend request and a message on Facebook for someone you don’t know, and doing it on a site that is dedicated to business connections. This is networking in a way that doesn’t make you feel weird at a party.
So, who do you look for in terms of connections? Start with your contacts, then the authors you admire. They can be in the same genre as you, but they don’t have to be. Look at publishers, agents, reviewers (just Google book reviewers or look at bylines on sites you frequent). You can even look at podcasters who cover books, or the genre you write in. For instance, if you write about history, fiction or non-fiction, look up history podcast producers and hosts. They’re often looking for content.
Another avenue for you can be convention organizers. See who’s running things like The BookFest (hint, that’s us!) or any other book convention, and conventions that cover your genre. Writing about superheroes? Look up not just the big ones like San Diego Comic-Con, but smaller ones, particularly in your area. Bookstore owners, book influencers, librarians, libraries – even school libraries if your work would fit in there. Don’t be shy. Reach out!
So, What Do You Do After You Reach Out?
Once you’ve started (and finding connections is an ongoing thing), start looking at the connections your connections have! (This can be a rabbit hole, so you might want to set a timer for yourself or block out a bit of time every day for this.) Your favorite author might have connections in the house that publishes their work. LinkedIn will even suggest connections for you. You never know who knows whom. You’ll probably be surprised at how fast your connections take off.
Then, send out a letter to each connection. Some can just be a quick hello with an introduction. You can set a form letter to go out on the site, but when things seem like a cut and paste, it can put people off. No need to go into everything. You can try something like:
It’s lovely to e-meet you! I’m _____, and I’m the author of _____. I saw ____ on your profile and I thought it was interesting. I’d love to chat about it if you have a moment.
It doesn’t have to be longer than that, but you do want to leave it open ended. Ask a question or mention something that shows you’ve actually looked at their page. Target a couple of people a day and just keep track of who you’ve spoke to. Ask about their podcast, or their latest book, or what they’re looking for in terms of new library books.
So, What’s the Downside?
Ah, the downside is a familiar one if you’ve been on social media at all. You’ll still get spam and letters from some unsavory people. It happens. It’s part of our world now. Use it to help you realize what to do and what not to do on LinkedIn. For instance, if you get something that isn’t targeted to you (like a message from a real estate agent when you’re writing a book about horses), ignore it, and remember to be specific when you write to someone. Say you’re writing about Medieval England and you see a connection on there for a museum. Ask them if they can put you in touch with a docent for that part of the museum, or an historian who works with the museum. Then ask them about a specific point, or how they got into history. You never know what that connection can bring.
Making connections online can bring benefits that you’ll be sure to see when we can leave the house again. Why not start with us, a public relations and social media marketing agency that focuses on authors and books?? Connect with us on the Black Château LinkedIn page.