Today I want to talk about one simple action you can take to better connect you and your writing to readers, as well as those they respect and listen to. What’s more, this one is all about being generous, connecting to someone in a meaningful way, and feeling a deep sense of fulfillment in the process.
Let’s boil this all down to what writing and publishing is all about, which is connection. This idea that you have an idea, a story, an insight that you want to share. This is something that a big part of what you feel called to do. You can’t not do it.
The culmination of that process? It’s not really finishing a manuscript, although that is an amazing milestone. It’s not publication, although that is as well. Art is complete when it connects with someone. When there is that magical blend of your intention as the writer, and what the reader brings when they read it. Their own worldview, life experience, and context in which they read your words.
In that moment something entirely new is created.
As many writers will tell you, smaller versions of that moment happens when they meet someone who shares their love of a certain kind of story, or writing, or themes. This is why we have readings, literary events, conferences, retreats, meetups, and even social media.
Is it the exact same thing as what happens when someone reads your book? Nope.
But is it a wonderful connection around the same underlying things? Yes. And what’s more, it is one that you, the author, gets to experience. Most people read in isolation. It happens privately, in small moments, and the magical connection of art described above happens in their mind.
Okay, let’s get back to the single feel-good action I mentioned. One that creates a tiny version of that magical moment of connection. One where you reach out to someone who “gets” you and your writing. But also one where you allow that person to feel seen. Where you grow your own literary circle in the best way possible: not by counting numbers of followers or subscribers, but connecting with one human being.
Okay, here is the strategy:
- Email someone. Or, if you can’t find their email, Direct Message them on their social media of choice.
- Thank them for something.
- Wish them a good day.
That’s it. These are all tools you have. You don’t have to risk anything by asking them to do you a favor. Instead, it is you creating a special moment for that person. One where they are supported and seen, and where you connect with them in relation to the types of things you love writing about.
Who could you email and what could you thank them for? Here is a list to get you started:
- An author whose work inspired you in some way. Tell them that. Be specific if you can. Don’t be precious here, it doesn’t have to be the one book you would take to a desert island. Thank people for characters, or specific ideas, or scenes that you loved.
- Someone who supports books like those you write (or want to write.) This could be a conference organizer, the leader of a community such as a Facebook group, a bookseller, a librarian, a teacher, a podcaster. Thank them for their work. Again, if you can be specific about one way they helped you, be sure to mention that.
- A reader! So many readers leave reviews online and recommend books on social media. Why not thank them? If they recommended a book months ago and you ended up reading it, then let them know. Thank them for the recommendation and tell them a specific way the book helped you. Why? Because you are telling them how they helped you. That they had a positive impact on your life.
Whenever I encourage people to do this, there is often a sense of resistance. People tell me that they don’t want to bother that person. That this person is likely busy. That they themselves don’t have enough of a platform to justifying emailing this person.
None of that is true.
I’m writing this sentence on Friday at 6:25am. Who on earth wouldn’t want to check their email at 6:35am and not like to see someone thanking them for having a powerful impact on their life through their work?
Everyone wants that.
Why withhold that? Why feel great about a writer or supporter of the arts or reader, and not let them know it?
Maybe you are thinking, “But Dan, I’m an introvert. I have a really difficult time reaching out to people.” Me too. Which is why I think that emailing someone is so perfect for introverts. It doesn’t ask you to take the stage, to beg for attention, to sell yourself.
Instead, it asks you do to what introverts do best. To listen. Have empathy. Care. To connect with someone one-on-one, in a generous and simple manner.
Beyond just feeling good, why is this a powerful powerful marketing tactic?
With these emails, you are building a literacy of your own author platform and marketing strategy. You are learning who else cares about work similar to yours. You are making the effort to establish meaningful connections with people who support this work. You are learning to make talking about this work something you find possible, and dare I say, even enjoyable.
This week, two authors I’m working with told me about how they did exactly this, and the results.
One reached out to the author of a book she loved, and was certain this author wouldn’t reply back. This concern was confirmed when she immediately received an out-of-office reply from the author saying that she was on hiatus writing her next book. She would be back in the Fall.
Yet, the very next day she received an email from this author who thanked her for the kind note, and expressed a kinship with my client since they both write about similar topics. I can tell you, that was a powerful thing to hear from someone you deeply respect.
Another writer I’ve been working with told me of a similar experience she just had:
“I wrote to an author who had had an article published in an online magazine on a theme similar to mine. I emailed just to thank her for the article and its insight and mentioned that the article had caught my eye because I had written a book on the same topic. To my surprise, she wrote a really kind email back and said [my book was] something like she’d check it out. Her checking out my book was less important to me than how grateful she was for my email. It really was a meaningful moment in the middle of an otherwise very busy week.”
I want to encourage you to create this moment for someone, and for yourself. A moment of gratitude and connection, all centered around the themes of what you write and why.
If you do this, please send me an email and let me know how it goes!