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How to REALLY Support the Work of Someone You Respect

There is so much noise out there. Tweets, status updates, emails, blog posts, comments, pins, and the like. So I have been considering how I ensure I can help out those I respect and admire. That, if a colleague or friend has a new book out, a great newsletter, a new product or course: how can I REALLY help spread the word? My conclusion:

A TWEET IS NOT ENOUGH

And I think this related to the offline world in this way:

IF I BELIEVE IN A CAUSE, PUTTING A BUMPER STICKER ON MY CAR IS NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT TO TRULY MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Yes, a Tweet is nice. A bumper sticker is nice. They are very much appreciated. But do they take ENOUGH action? Do they focus on having a powerful intended effect? Or, do they sometimes come off as a well-meaning token effort? I want my support to be measured in action. In results, not intentions.

So today, I want to review different ways that I can promote the work of someone I respect in a world that is full of a very low signal to noise ratio.

To frame the conversation, here are some examples of some folks I respect, whose message or services I would like to spread:

There are so many others I could add to this list!

How do you spread the word about books you love? Services that have wowed you? Articles that made you rethink something important? How do you promote the people BEHIND these creations in a consistent and meaningful way?

So this is what I have come up with so far in terms or actions I can take:

PUT MYSELF IN THEIR SHOES
Really empathize with what their goals are and what they need to achieve them. That if I know someone has a fledgling business, I know how tenuous that can be, how every little “win” can just make their day. So how can I deliver two more days like that this month for them? Or four days!?

Sometimes, when speaking about the creative arts and ventures built upon passion, we don’t talk about money enough. That a writer needs to support their family. That an entrepreneur has lots of risk and overhead, and even sleepless nights. That financial support means that they can sleep better, support their family, and make positive proactive decisions to grow in a meaningful way. That yes, growing someone’s revenue streams can increase their ability to create art or great writing. That it may allow them to take MORE creative risks.

So when I empathize with a writer who has a new book out; a colleague who offers services; or a journalist reporting on something, I want to really analyze the resources they need to support their work. That a writer needs sales, not just “exposure.” They need momentum. They need a team out there working on their behalf.

THE “ASK” IS CRITICAL
It is not enough to just say “Congratulations on your new book Christina!” on Twitter. I need to make the ‘ask,’ actually encouraging people to buy her book, watch the trailer, attend a reading, or subscribe to her newsletter. I need to provide the context, ensuring people know WHY they may like this book.

This is hard. As a business owner, I am super sensitive about the distinction of sharing my passion for what I do working with writers, and anything that has a price tag on it. People react differently when a price tag is involved. And I think sometimes we shy away from the “ask” because we expend less social capital. There is a difference in me saying these two things on Twitter:

  • Loved Christina Rosalie’s new book A Field Guide to Now. Thanks @Christina_write!
  • If you want to lead a more meaningful creative life, check out A Field Guide to Now by @Christina_write. Check it out ChristinaRosalie.com

I want to be more mindful to ensure my mentions allow people to take an ACTION.

CONSISTENCY MATTERS
I don’t want to pat myself on the back for sending a single Tweet supporting Christina or Jane or someone else I respect. Because if I send that Tweet at 4pm on a Tuesday, maybe only a tiny percentage of my followers actually see it. Maybe the single Tweet doesn’t communicate the passion I feel about this person and their work. I need to think strategically about how I can spread their message and promote their work consistently over time.

For example: how can I share the news about someone’s book consistently over time without saying the same thing again and again? Some ideas:

  • Interview him or her
  • Post an excerpt
  • Review it on Amazon and Goodreads
  • See if I can help host a book tour date in NJ or NY
  • Share his or her book trailer on Facebook
  • Tweet about him often, but use different Tweets each time. Some overtly endorsing the book, other times sharing a great quote from it, or promoting his or her own blog posts or Tweets. Be mindful to not to be promotional, but meaningful.
  • Think of who else has an audience that would appreciate this book. Reach out to them via email and encourage them to interview with author, or host part of their blog tour, etc.
  • Buy books and send them to those I know who would appreciate it, especially if those people may connect with others who would like it.
  • Are there organizations that I am involved with who would want to partner with this author or even consider bulk sales? Reach out to them.

Realistically, in a single month, I could spread the word in 5 different ways, 20 different times.

ASK THE PERSON HOW I CAN BE MOST STRATEGICALLY USEFUL TO THEM
I don’t want to assume that I know someone’s goals, and what they value most in their career. Maybe they are more focused on getting blog subscribers, or spreading the word about an appearance, or a blog tour, or selling a book. Reach out and ASK THEM what matters most. Don’t do this get credit for spreading the word, do so to ensure that my efforts are laser targeted on what matters most. Again: this is about effect, not intention.

As I was writing this post, I saw a similar one from Nilofer that explores this same topic in a slightly different way: How To Support An Author. Well worth the read.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how to support those you respect.

Thanks!
-Dan

  • http://twitter.com/LauraHoward78 Laura Howard

    It’s important to me to share the work of those who inspire me. I’m glad you brought this up. I like sharing your work, because you think outside the box, and I like sharing Joanna Penn’s work because she is a huge inspiration to me! Thanks!

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

      Thank you Laura! Yes, Joanna so EASILY could/should have been on the list I mentioned above. There are so many people whose work I want to support. Which brings up another conversation: how to support them all!? :)

      Much appreciated.
      -Dan

  • http://www.flurrycreations.com/theblog John Bergquist

    I have noticed it is also the difference between a lasting connection and being a drive by supporter. I call it “showing up”. When I read I make it a social experience, giving the author my own social footprint. I am saying “this book is impacting me right now”. Great summary Dan.

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

      Thanks John! Great point. With all the talk in the past few years of “influencers” I have also seen lots of folks trying to get attention by being momentary supporters of those with a higher profile. What I am talking about here is supporting those who I want to support a year from now, 3 years from now, even 10 years from now!

      As usual, very much appreciated.
      -Dan

    • http://www.facebook.com/MaryMcFarlandAuthor Mary McFarland

      John, I couldn’t agree with you more. I like showing up. I believe there’s more than being a “drive by” supporter. Actually, if I’m driving by, you better believe I’m stopping in to say it: “Hey, John’s book’s going to change the way you think about this or that . . . .” It’s the great “call to action” Dan is referring to. Why’s it taking us all so long to figure this out on Twitter and the social media circuit?

  • Cathy Day

    For the last few years, I’ve been ending all my creative writing classes with a lecture about “literary citizenship,” how students can to contribute to (not just expect things from) the publishing world they want so much to be a part of. Next semester, I’m going to teach a whole class on the subject, and the principles of lit cit are very similar to what you’re talking about here, Dan. I created a blog for the course so that others can follow along if they wish. http://literarycitizenship.wordpress.com/. What I’ve discovered is that the act of putting themselves in an author’s shoes is a crucial first step toward imagining a writing life for themselves.

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

      Cathy,
      Thanks! Very interesting to hear about your ideas and how you weave it into your work with writes. Smart! Have a great day.
      -Dan

    • http://twitter.com/Nadine_Feldman Nadine Feldman

      Cathy, I love this term: “literary citizenship.” I’m going to take a look at your blog. It may be useful for my readers as well.

  • http://rebeccatdickson.com/ Rebecca T Dickson

    Utterly fantastic and wholly inspirational. ;)

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

      Thanks Rebecca!

  • http://twitter.com/Nadine_Feldman Nadine Feldman

    Great ideas that I’m happy to share! I would add that we can support other writers by “liking” their book on Amazon and agreeing with the tags. Each week, I have a blog post about a book I enjoyed. I’ve been a bit remiss lately about doing Amazon reviews, but I’ve done a number of them for books I like. As an author, I know how hard it is to get the word out, so I help where I can. While it’s my sincere goal to help other authors, I also admit that I”m hoping to create good karma for myself. A lot of people will pitch in when they know what to do, and your post provides that information. Thanks!

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

      Thank you Nadine!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=626796709 Susan Toy

    I recently wrote a similar post to my blog. http://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/the-care-and-feeding-and-promotion-of-authors/

    I have been operating an author promotion business these past few years and have tried to “encourage” authors (my clients and just in general) and their readers to promote each other and their books. But what I’ve discovered is that many authors treat writing as if it were a competitive sport. And there’s a lot of professional jealousy out there in Bookland. These authors’ eyes are so firmly set on their own prize of being published and selling lots and lots of books that they don’t consider that if they help others get ahead and get noticed, they too will receive much-needed attention. it just makes sense!

    I will be sharing and RTing this blog post, Dan, and encouraging my followers and friends to do the same. This cannot be said enough! thanks for posting!

    Susan Toy
    Alberta Books Canada

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

      Thank you so much Susan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brittaonhudson Britta Alexander

    I absolutely love this post, and am honored to be included. Thinking about how we can help — really help — others is a refreshing perspective in a world that’s all about “get 1,000 fans now!!!” I don’t want fans. I want relationships. And these tips are excellent ways to build true connections.

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

      Thank you so much Britta, I love that perspective!

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.a.cairns David Alan Cairns

    Love the article. I’m already doing some of the things you suggest and have shared your article with my fbook friends and T followers. Your first sentence grabbed me. I recently blogged about the “noise” and the problem from a writer’s point of view http://dacairns.blogspot.com.au