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Craft And Connection Takes Time

Quick! Write 4 books and put them for sale on Amazon for 99 cents each.
Facebook it! Tweet it! Put a ‘share this’ button on your blog!

Now… sit back, and let the awards and money roll in. Well done, modern author.

I received a package in the mail this week, a new book from my friend Cynthia Morris. Here is the experience of unwrapping it:

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Cynthia created a limited edition release of the book, with the special packaging above. She wanted to not treat the book as just another commodity, but as something special. In the back is a limited edition print that folds out with her art and signature on it.

Doing this cost her time, money and effort. The mental energy to strategize what to create, to package it, and to physically do all of the mailings herself.

Here is a photo of her home, where she prepared the packages to send off (I grabbed this from her Facebook page):

Chasing Sylvia Beach

Does this scream “glamorous life of an author” to you? No, this is a REALISTIC view of the life of an author. Pouring care, time and attention to detail into their craft. And yes, in “craft,” I am including your ability to share your work with others in a meaningful way.

Sharing is a part of creation.

The craft of writing takes time.

Real connection with others, takes time.

This goes beyond the production of physical media, a book. This same caring can extend to how you use social media. Two successful authors mentioned to me this week how their fans are shocked if they actually @reply back to them on Twitter. It’s a simple thing. Yet, many authors will focus on everything but this real connection because they fear it won’t scale. Some would rather pin something on Pinterest than engage with a single reader on Twitter.

Do you want to differentiate yourself from most other writers out there? Once you are done writing for the day (writing does come first after all), focus on connecting with readers. Who are they? Where are they? What do they love? How can you engage with them in a meaningful, not promotional, manner?

I always use Neil Gaiman as an example of this. How here is someone who has achieved so much, is “famous,” works across a range of media. And yet, this is a typical moment in his Twitter feed:

Neil Gaiman's Twitter feed

You see @reply after @reply. Yes, some are to those he is close to, other authors, even his wife. But plenty are to fans, to “regular” folks he is engaging with in small ways. How does Neil have the time? He makes the time. It’s a choice. To care.

With all the social media buttons at our disposal, as much as we like to say “everything has changed,” in terms of marketing your book and managing your career as a writer, it really hasn’t. If you want to differentiate yourself, if you want to matter to your readers, find ways to connect with them in a meaningful and down-to-earth manner. It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it.

It’s a craft.

Thanks!
-Dan

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  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    I love this

    Such care in the book. You can sense the awesome through the computer screen.

    I hope to do something similar in the future. Put great emphasis into the hardback and make it an experience, rather than a product. I know when I buy a record that is like this I feel vey special indeed. :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thanks Matthew. I used to be a big collector of records and CDs, always searching out alternative packaging. The best I ever saw was a boxed set (recently rereleased) by Spiritualized, where each song on the album had it’s very own CD, and each of the 12 CDs were packaged as if they were medication, in a big plastic bubble that you had to pop each song out of.  As if each song was it’s own “dosage.” It reflected the power each song had to affect you in a profound way.

      http://www.bonanza.com/listings/SPIRITUALIZED-LADIES-GENTLEMAN-12-x-CD3-BOXSET/16957443

      -Dan

      • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

        I’m loving that. Some serious work has been done there :)

    • Cynthia Morris

      Thanks, Matthew! Full disclosure, Dan helped me strategize my book launch. I knew I wanted to do something special. He kept pointing me toward my art and my love of all things paper. The sense of cards, wrapping, mystery all built over time. Also, this is the kind of wrapping you see my character doing in the bookstore she finds herself in in 1937 Paris. So it’s quaint and also directly related to the flavor of the book. 

      Have fun with your book and its creative unfolding. It really was a pleasure to make this, even when it was daunting and challenging. Best of luck to you! And…see you at #WDS? 

      • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

        I’m afraid not. I’ve signed up for updates next hear, though. Would love to go. Sounds like an amazing group of people.

        Love how the idea links in with the story, too. A very nice touch. I hope to see more writers do this because it really does add an extra element to things

        Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • http://fantasyfic.wordpress.com/ Sandra Bell Kirchman

    Impressive!  Now I want to read her book.  Am trying to share this on FB and Twitter.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thanks so much Sandra!

    • Cynthia Morris

      Thanks, Sandra! I am glad this inspired you to read and share the book! Enjoy it!

  • http://twitter.com/geoffbateson Geoff Bateson

    Wellcrafted books have a great place; sensibly priced ebooks hold another; ‘penny-dreadfuls’ aim for mass consumption. Depends why we want to write and whether our driving motive is finance only.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thanks Geoff. I’m not against the 99 cent price point per se, but I do get skeptical about rushing work into the market that doesn’t leave a longstanding legacy. In the end, for all of an author’s hours of work, I’m not sure $8.99 is reflective of that effort any more than 99 cents it. It is an “industry standard” or mutually agreed upon price.
      Thanks.
      -Dan

  • http://www.facebook.com/julianne.carson Julianne Carson

    Oh, wow! I love the packaging and experience of Cynthia’s book. So inspiring. Giving personal attention can seem so overwhelming, but I suppose that you don’t have to give it to Everyone. Just a few meaningful connections may prove to be more valuable than a million meaningless ones. 

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      So true Julianne, it’s amazing how much the smallest attention to detail can mean to someone. 
      -Dan

    • Cynthia Morris

      Thanks so much, Julianne! It felt overwhelming to me, but you’re right, I found a way to manage it without too much stress. And knowing it was limited – I wasn’t going to keep selling this edition – helped. 

  • AJ Sikes

    What a lovely read this was. Thank you, Dan. Cynthia’s care and feeding efforts are top shelf, and are a real inspiration to a young (in the craft) author like me. Limited edition release with special easter egg gifts inside, hand-packaged and mailed? Brilliant!

    Also love @neilhimself for how to be human while remaining very much a celebrity figure.

    • http://www.wegrowmedia.com/ Dan Blank

      Thanks!

    • Cynthia Morris

      Thanks, AJ! 

      I was really focusing on the delight factor. How could I delight and wow my readers? Because what delights them also delights me!

      I appreciate your kind comments!

  • http://twitter.com/dianabletter Diana Bletter

    Merci for sharing this – gets my mojo working! I’m inspired–plus I love the background mess.