Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rerun: Pimpin'

When I was at RWA National, the word was out, group blogs were in. More and more writers were pooling their talents and resources and forming group blogs. In the near future (read: after deadlines) I plan to highlight and feature a few of those group blogs and their various, unique approaches, but for now, the rising popularity of group blogs put me in mind of this SVP post we ran almost exactly a year ago. Enjoy!

For a lot of introverts, the absolute hardest part of marketing is trying to get the gig itself, the school visit, speaking engagement, newspaper article, whatever. It’s trying to talk people into booking you that’s the really hard part. The selling of oneself.

So here’s a suggestion: Don’t sell yourself, sell your buddies. And have your buddies sell you.

It’s called a co-op, and for introverts, it can be a wonderful way to operate in the promotional world.

Now, being introverts, you may be thinking, but I’m a solitary writer, how can I form a co-op?

The truth is, there are a number of natural groupings you fall into that might work.

Do you have a critique group?
A local chapter of SCBWI?
Perhaps you could pool together with other authors that write for your publisher?
Or other clients of your agent?

Maybe you just have three or four scattered writer friends, but hey, that’s enough to start an informal co-op.

It works especially well if the different member have different strengths and comfort zones. Perhaps one of the group is very comfortable around kids and enjoys school visits. Maybe another one is really comfortable teaching writing workshops, and a third is quite internet savvy, and the fourth was an administrative assistant in a marketing department a long time ago in a land far away.

So you pool your resources and talents. When the rest of you get school visit requests that you don’t want to act on, hand them over to the member of our group who does. Or maybe one of you is a picture book writer, who’s been asked to speak at a middle school—not natural pairing, so refer the school to the tween author in your group. There’s all sorts of natural divisions of labor promotion than can be handled by a group that are too intimidating when faced all alone. Consider:

  • Posting online reviews for each others books on Amazon and B&
  • If you have a blog, make sure and blog about your co-op members new books when they come out.
  • If you’re approached for a booksigning, suggest to the store a group signing, which is more fun for the author and the store.
  • If one of the co-op has a new book, consider writing a press release for them, or taking a copy of their new book to your local librarian.

I’m sure you guys can think of other ways to do promote books you love. (Feel free to add them in the comments!)

Another way to form a group is through a secondary interest. Maybe you know a handful of other humor writers, or fantasy writers, or historical fiction authors. Consider forming a group blog where you can all participate in building a community based on that secondary interest.

And here's one of the beauties of the co-op system. If you’re in a critique group or local writers group together, or clients of the same agent or publisher, chances are there will be genuine admiration for each others work, so everything that you do to promote your fellow member will flow from a genuine place.

And it won't be about you.


Anonymous said...


I've got this kind of group, and I'm so lucky. At first we tried to make it really structured, which didn't work so well, so we've loosened it up.

Several of us went to a writing conference last weekend. We broke the cardinal "mingling" rule and sat with each other at meals. It was great, though, sort of a group-introvert recharge. We updated each other on the agents, etc, we'd talked to, gave each other a nudge in the right direction to other people we should be "connecting" with, and just provided huge support and energy for going back out there.

Kristina Springer said...

Just stopping by to let you know that the Author2Author girls nominated this blog for the I LOVE YOUR BLOG award. Check here:

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Kristina!

Tre' cool. Thank you for letting us know.

And, Robin, thanks for this great post! Happy to see it again. It's a keeper.


Speed Reader said...

I stumbled across your blog and it looks really interesting! I'm going to add it to my google reader!

I thought you might be interested in highlighting a "group" blog I recently started with my friend: We like to blog about books and authors and writing. And we're currently in the process of reviewing some ARCs and doing author Q&A's for some new authors.

If any of your readers are interested in having us review their books, we'd love to get in touch with them! It's an easy way to get some free advertising, especially for the introvert who only has to converse with us via email!