Book Sales Success Secret #6: The Power of Networking
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- The #1 reason your book isn’t selling – and how to fix it
- Questions to ask yourself that will shift your mindset toward action that actually makes a difference
- Real-life examples and resources to help you learn and practice networking – even if it terrifies you
- How to identify and find the right people to grow your network
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important links and information!
When you write a book, you want to share your message with the world. You want your words to touch people's lives and make a difference. But here's the thing: if no one buys your book, how can it have that kind of impact?
The truth is, sales = impact. The more books you sell, the more people you reach. So how do you sell more books? That’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this next installment of the Book Sales Success Secrets series, where we're breaking down the obstacles to your success and how to overcome them with the powerful combination of God + marketing.
That’s right – if you're a Christian author, it's important to remember that God and marketing can and do work hand-in-hand to help you to sell more books. Yes, you need to put your trust in God, and you also need to use the marketing tools available to you. By using both, you can reach your audience and get them to read – and buy – your book.
Remember, God can do amazing things when we put our faith in Him. And no, that doesn't mean that we have to use salesy or sneaky tactics. Everything we’ve been talking about in this series is ethical and above-board. So let’s go ahead and jump into Book Sales Success Secret #6, which is all about networking
The #1 Reason Your Book Isn’t Selling
Here is a truth you need to embrace: it's not enough for you to just write great books. It's not. You also need to make sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to read your book.
When I talk to people about becoming a successful author, I'm sometimes amazed at how we can get caught up in the art – that is, in writing a masterpiece that is going to be amazing and change the world. Don’t get me wrong, this is an admirable goal. But it can't be the only goal that you can have in mind if you really want to sell more books. You cannot be only consumed with the art of writing, because focusing solely on the art of writing isn't going to get your books into more hands.
So let’s talk about the #1 reason your book isn’t selling. And I’ll warn you: it’s going to be hard to swallow. But I need you to stick it out.
The #1 reason your book isn’t selling is because you don’t exist.
Ouch, right? It hurts to hear, but when you think about it, it’s true. How many people really know about you and your book?
Let's do a quick exercise. Look at the follower count on each of your social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok. Check out how many people are in your Facebook group, and on your email list If you have one.
Even if you have something like 10,0000 followers across all platforms, you have to keep in mind that there are literally billions of adults over the age of 21 around the globe. Realistically, each of us is no more than a drop in the bucket. The world doesn’t know you or I exist.
Now, don’t think this means you need billions – or even millions – of people to know who you are, because you don't. But thousands? Absolutely. Before people can buy your book, they have to know who you are. They have to know you exist. That’s where networking comes in.
Authors Don’t Find Readers; Readers Find Books
If your book isn’t selling, it’s not that it sucks. It’s not that you wasted your time and money. It’s not that there isn’t a market for your book. It’s simply that not enough people know you exist. Your biggest challenge is obscurity, and you need to fix it ASAP if you truly want to make your mark on the world.
Because, let's face it, you don't really buy into the idea of, “if one life has changed, it will all be worth it.” You did not go through all that you went through to change one life – you wrote the book, or books, because you wanted to impact the world.
So it's time to do it. It’s time to stop putting all of your time and effort into the art of writing books, without giving equal time and attention to marketing them and getting them into people’s hands.
But how do you do that? How can you get the word out? It boils down to this: authors don't find readers; readers find books.
This is a simple, but super important, mindset shift that must happen if you really want to have the impact you're called to make. The key to success actually isn't selling books to readers, but making it easy for readers to find your book. Lack of visibility is the author's biggest enemy.
So you’ve got to flip the question around. Instead of asking yourself, “How do I sell more books?” ask yourself, “How can I make it easy for my ideal reader to find me and my book? And then, when they find me, how can I make it easy for them to say yes?” As you’ll likely realize when you ask yourself these questions, one of the best ways to do this is to increase your visibility. And you can do that by networking – or, as I like to call it, building strategic connections. The best part is this is a place literally anyone can start at.
Getting Out of the Comfort Zone
Before we get to networking and building strategic connections, however, I thought it would be helpful to share a quick story: a little bit of backstory on myself.
I was not always willing to connect with people. Quite honestly, I did pretty much everything in my power to make sure I could avoid situations where I had to meet new people. My mom tells me all the time that she's amazed about the person that I've become – and you might think the same thing if you interact with me in the Facebook group or if you know me in real life.
Growing up, I was a shy and introverted only child, and I spent a lot of time by myself. I'd interact with a few kids here and there at school, but I wasn't even close to being outgoing, or even social. It was like I was a one-woman show!
Then, to top it all off, my mom joined a Pentecostal church when I was nine. This church was very strict about what you can wear – no pants, minimal jewelry – and what you could do – no secular music, no dances. So I always felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb and never really fit in. God always allowed me to have a couple of close friends, but that was about it.
And, for a long time, it stayed that way. All the way through college, and even in my early days as a young working adult, I marveled at how some people could make friends and connections so easily, while I always felt so awkward doing it. So I didn’t do it. When I went to events, I gravitated towards hanging out with people I already knew – and if I didn't know anyone that was going, you could count me out. I was not even coming. The idea of going to a place with a roomful of people I did not know terrified me.
Fast-forward to now. Yes, I still have my inner circle of close friends. But I'm also blessed to have connections with people all across the world. People in London, Africa, Germany – I am blessed to have connections everywhere, and I can go to local events and start networking without a second thought. (Though, to be fair, I do still need time to recharge after too much “peopling,” as I call it!) Plus, I can easily strike up a conversation online with someone I don't even know, without being salesy or sleazy.
But this change never would have happened if it weren't for one of my best friends pushing me out of my comfort zone. She literally signed us up for Toastmasters – not just herself, but both of us – and made sure that I showed up so I could get over some of my nerves. From there, I learned to consistently put myself in situations that forced me to meet new people. This was not natural to me, but I realized that if I was going to really grow, I had to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
So you see, the growth in my skill set is largely influenced by the people that I have been connected to. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be who I am, or where I am, without the connections that I've been able to have. Without networking, without learning how to make connections, I would not be talking to you right now. I would have never thought about doing a podcast, because that would have been putting myself out there way too much.
The Power of Networking Strategically
So let’s talk about networking by building strategic connections. Think of it like a long line at your favorite amusement park. Imagine you head over to the new ride, and a sign is showing a two-hour wait to be able to get on the ride.
You’re bummed, right? But you decide that you really want to get on the ride, so you get in line. And as you walk over, you hear someone yell your name. You look up, and it's your friend that you just connected with at an event last month. They are all the way up in the line, one of the first 10 people, and they invite you up to join them and ride it together.
Your wait time just went from 2 hours to 15 minutes, all because of networking. Because of your strategic connections. That is truly powerful, and it is a representation of how God can and will work in your life.
The issue is that we are usually too consumed with ourselves and what we're trying to do to recognize these opportunities. All too often, we don't put ourselves in situations where we can meet new people. And then when things are divinely orchestrated, we sometimes brush people off before the true value of the connection presents itself. But Scripture itself supports the idea that connections are important.
Proverbs 27:17 reminds us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” So it stands to reason that if you want to be successful as an author – and in life – it's important to surround yourself with and stay connected to the right people.
Who Are the Right People?
But, you might be thinking, who are the right people? Great question! We have the best chance of success when we surround ourselves with people who are:
- Focused on learning and growing
- Pursuing their own goals
- Willing to give support, like promoting your book or connecting you to people who could promote your book or your business
- Open to receiving support
In other words, the goal of networking is to foster a mutually beneficial relationship, where you are adding value to their life, and they are adding value to yours.
In contrast, people who are pulling in a different direction, not focused on their goals, still talking about it rather than being about it, and are married to doing things on their own versus asking for help are not good candidates for your dream team.
How Do I Find the Right People?
So the next question is, could you use some more of the right people in your circle? If your answer is yes, let this be your challenge to take intentional steps to practice networking and build more strategic connections. They don't even have to all be business connections – the important thing is to connect with more people.
Where we get stuck is when we are presenting our offer and message to the same old group of people who have already heard that message and already made the decision as to whether or not it is for them. Coming back to that group isn't going to get you anywhere. You need to be constantly expanding the number of people who know who you are. Because the more people know who you are, the more opportunities will present themselves.
Not sure where or how to start networking? Try one or more of these ideas:
- You could join a meetup group, either in your local community or online, to explore new interests.
- You could join Toastmasters like I did, and connect with others who are building their speaking skills and preparing to grow their businesses.
- You could check out Business Network International (BNI) as a resource to develop lasting relationships with like-minded business professionals.
- You could go to a Facebook group, like the Christian Authors Network, and start connecting with people in that group. Not just posting about your book on Support Saturdays, but making an intentional effort to connect with people in the group.
- You could go to other Facebook groups with Christian writers or entrepreneurs in them.
Just remember, these are all opportunities to meet like-minded folks online – not to spam them with posts about your book. But the more people you connect with, the wider your reach will be. And the more people who know about you and your book, the better off you will be.
Building strategic connections, a.k.a. networking, is one of the most effective ways to get noticed, build relationships, sell books, and grow your business.
Your Next Steps
Essentially, there are five reasons you should start building strategic connections today:
- You’ll make new friends and connections that you did not have before.
- You’ll learn about new opportunities, because new people make new opportunities.
- You'll get exposure for your books, because when you are meeting new people, they always want to know a little bit about who you are and what you do. It's a perfect opportunity to share.
- You’ll expand your reach and influence. You're a great person, so getting connected to other great people means that your message is going to spread, because people like to talk about good things in their life.
- You'll generate leads and opportunities. Instead of trying to get leads through salesy, sleazy tactics, it will be a much more natural realization of, “Hey, we have something in common. We can help each other.”
At its heart, networking is all about being willing to both lend support and receive support. So now it’s time to get intentional: what is one intentional step that you will make to start building strategic connections? Then be sure to come back next week for Book Sales Success Secret #7!
My name is Tamara "Coach Tam" Jackson and I am a published author, Facebook© Certified Digital Marketer, host of the Top 100 Publishing Secrets podcast, and founder of The Christian Authors Network (C.A.N.) Facebook© community. I specialize in helping mission-driven authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs increase their exposure, impact, and income through strategic self-publishing and digital media appearances. Just say yes and we will work together to attract a tribe of loyal followers that 1) "get you", 2) love what you do, and 3) are happy to invest in your book, business, cause, or movement. Plus, we will accomplish all of this without fake, salesy, sleazy, or manipulative tactics. Yes you CAN write, publish, and profit in a way that honors God; join the community today at https://christianauthors.net/fbgroup.
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