When I teach my marketing plan class at conferences I ask attendees to pull out their cell phones and open up their contact lists. Then I tell them to write down the names of people they know who might be able to help them with some of their marketing plans.
Even the most introverted among us (hi, there! Yes, you over in the corner) knows people. In fact, I bet you know way more people than you realize. After moving all over the country for the past decade, I know my list of contacts is quite large.
We are not going to reach out to those people and ask them to buy our book. This is tacky on the grandest scale. There is nothing wrong with reaching out and asking for help. A friend of mine, who stealthily reads this blog, recently chastised me for telling all of you that it's okay to ask for help, but let myself get overwhelmed and didn't ask for help. So this is me, once again, telling you it's okay to ask for help and reminding myself the same.
So on the docket is a few things.
One, my stealthy friend watched my children on Friday. This may seem like a small deal, but to a working/homeschooling mama with two kids who are constantly underfoot, it's a huge blessing. Don't overlook the help a friend can give by watching your kids, bringing a meal, doing internet searches for images or contact names. Not everyone who helps you is going to be related to the publishing world, and sometimes these favors are the ones that give us exactly what we need.
Next up, I have a local friend who self-published a novel and managed to get it into the local Hastings. This might not be a big deal for some genres, but I still think physical discoverability in a book store is a big deal for YA. There is a social element of book buying for some teens and I'd like to get a piece of that. Plus sometimes, our store will do a featured table of TX authors and that would be sweet. So I asked her for some contact names and advice on how to proceed. As soon as my print copies are in hand, I'll be off to the book store. Yeah!
Third on my list of favors was reaching out to a mommy friend. This woman is busier than I am, but is the sweetest person you could ever want as a friend. In addition to being the kind of mom who's just generally involved in her kids' schools, she is also on the local school board. I asked her if she would introduce me to any teachers she knows that might be interested in having an author come speak in their classroom. Just as soon as she finishes the loose ends from a mom conference that she ran this past weekend (Did I mention she's busy), she's going to put me in contact with several.
Last, I'm planning to reach out to the local university, where the hubs is a professor (more name dropping to follow) to see if there are any film students looking to pad their portfolios. I'd love to get a trailer made, but this is one of those "nice to have" marketing items that I don't really want to spend a lot of time and/or money on. If I can get a film student who wants to make one and give him/her complete artistic control, I might get to have a trailer without investing any money and very little time. Sounds good to me.
Out of the list of folks I'm asking for help from, only one is a fellow author. The rest are a product of my situation and the wonderful people I've met in my life. Everyone's situation is different, but unless you're a hermit who avoids the internet and public places, then you know people. If you aren't sure if anyone you know has any connections, ask.
Don't be afraid to just tell your friends what you need. Let them know what you're doing and what you need, then ask if anyone has any connections. You never know who has a connection that can help. And don't worry about your friends being offended. On the contrary, don't be surprised if they are honored and excited to help be a part of your future success.