Building Relationships

Congratulations Susan Brownell! You won the swag giveaway and book from the contest yesterday. Please send your contact information to! Thanks to all who entered.

Edith here. At the Wicked Cozy Authors, we are all about building relationships. Nothing delights us more than hearing from you, our readers, in the comments section and on Facebook or elsewhere. Really. We love to have author guests here, and experts, to share their stories. We often share other posts, retweet fellow authors’ good news, twittericonexcitedly post a picture of a “first sighting in the wild” when a friend’s book shows up in a brick-and-mortar bookstore (or for pre-order online).

We reach out, too. Often, especially when a book birthday is underway, we ask other blog hosts to feature us as a guest. We are all, for the moment, beyond the point where we have to approach potential agents, but Julie wrote an excellent post on best practices for doing that. But such reaching out should be personal, if possible, as well as relevant.

So Wickeds, talk about relationships. Talk about the right way to do things in our professional world. Go!

Julie: A few things come to mind. First, be happy for others, and celebrate their success. Second, practice gratitude. Third, always smile.

Jessie: I think it is important to remember that even though so much of the business is conducted online, there are real, flesh and blood people on the other end of that line. Social engagement rules from the whole history of humanity do still come into play. Politeness coupled with sincerity still matter.  Make connections with people you genuinely admire and like. Take the time to educate yourself about what makes that other person’s world revolve before asking them to help make yours go round. Remember to say thank you whenever anyone makes any effort on your behalf.

Barb: Building on what Jessie said, behave in the virtual world as you would in the real world. Examples:

  • Would you approach a stranger and say, “I don’t know anything about you and don’t really care to find out, but you should totally invite me to your dinner party, because I am fascinating.” That’s what happened that spurred this post. We were approached by someone who wanted to guest blog with us via a generic letter telling us how great she was. Worse, the poor woman had paid a publicist for this service. Do not do this.
  • How do you feel about the cousin who only calls once a year to get you to buy her annoying kid’s school wrapping paper? You probably don’t like her. The same with people whose only contribution to the conversation is “buy my book,” or “like my page.”
  • In the communities in which you participate in the real world–church, PTA, book group, sports team–how do you feel about the people who only show up to consume what’s on offer, who never volunteer to do any of the work? Not good. So be a contributor to your virtual, reading, and writing communities. Not all of them. You’ll have to pick and choose, but do your share. Be polite. Get your work done on time and make it high quality. People will appreciate it, and they will come to appreciate you.

When marketing your book and interacting online, be a person, be your authentic self. Unless your authentic self is a jerk, in which case, be someone else. No one will know. That’s the great thing about the internet.

Sherry: Oh, Barb, you always make me laugh! My two cents: It’s important to remember who helped you on your writing journey and to help those who are where you were. I’ve received so much help and gotten so much advice on the road to publication but I couldn’t have done it alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask to be on a blog. Just make sure the blog is a good fit for your book.

Friends helping each other (and maybe retweeting?) from wikimedia commons

Edith: I often think of the lesson Julie says about social media – it’s ninety-five percent about others and five percent about you (numbers may be approximate). Re-tweet author friends’ tweets way more than posting ones about yourself. Keep negative opinions out of the public eye, especially about books – it’s hard to write and promote one. And pay generosity forward. Nothing makes me happier than helping a newer author with a short critique or a blurb on a debut novel that I read and truly liked, because I was boosted in the same way from more seasoned author mentors as I was coming up.

Liz: I love all of these answers and completely agree. One thing that stands out for me is the message to celebrate the success of others, and help in any way you can. During Harlan Coben’s interview last week at Bouchercon, he said it best: “No one in this room (or anywhere else) has to fail so someone else can succeed.” And the more you help others, the more it comes back to you.

Readers: How do you like to be approached?

21 Thoughts

  1. One of the happiest surprises I found when I became part of the writers’ community is how supportive everyone is–even the Superstars. No infighting, no competition–we know we’re all in the same boat, and we share. We owe it to our fellow writers to carry that forward. If you like someone’s book, say so to other people. Blurb the ones you enjoy, when asked. At conferences, talk to the people you don’t know as well as old friends. And don’t make everything “me, me, me, buy my book, me, me.”

      1. As a reader, I was overwhelmed, at Bouchercon, at how authors I met were interested in ME and not which one of their books/series I liked best.

      2. I couldn’t agree more. On the first television show I ever worked on, one of the writers announced, “It’s not enough that I succeeed – others must fail.” And I was like, “Wow! Ouch.” Thank God the mystery world is exactly the opposite. The generosity and kindness I’ve been shown helps heal the PTSD I have from writing for television.

      3. Oh, and speaking of generosity and kindness, THANK YOU, WICKEDS, FOR COMING TO MY LAUNCH PARTY!!!!!!!!! You brought me to tears with your support.

  2. Very timely advice, especially amidst all the other advice to aggressively promote yourself. It’s true word of mouth sells books just like it sells any other product. But it’s usually more effective when it comes from someone else’s mouth.

  3. One thing I love about the mystery community is how supportive everyone is of each other. And I’m talking about writers, big and small, and readers alike. When writers are doing that for others, it makes me pay a bit more attention when they mention something about their own book. As opposed to those who do nothing but promote their own book. That’s a huge turn off.

  4. Barb, you make me laugh. “Unless your authentic self is a jerk.” And yes, I’ve known those people who show up to consume, but who don’t help. Argh.

    As for online relations, I try to think of it this way. Would you say that to a person’s face? No? Then don’t say it online.

  5. Group wisdom on this ever-present topic.A former president of my MWA chapter used to end announcements with something like, “We are the MWA. We help each other succeed.”

  6. This is how good you’ve been at branding your group–I’m planning a trip to NH and Maine, and thought, “I’d like to go by and meet them. I wonder what town that little blue shingle bookstore is in?”

    What, you mean you don’t get together every day and write your books? There goes my fantasy world.!

    Amy Mata

    1. Thanks, Amy! We’d love to meet you, too. Each of our web sites should have a list of our events – maybe one of us will be at a library that fits your itinerary!

  7. I love your blog! It is special to hear each unique voice of your fun and supportive sisterhood. Because of your warmth, your talents and your humor, I read your mysteries and recommend them to others!

Comments are closed.