Author’s Journey #24: Building your expert network and Obtaining pre-publication quotes

by Roger Parker on June 4, 2010

As we’ve seen in the past 5 blog posts, an author’s marketing and promotion responsibilities begin long before their book’s publication date. It’s never too early to begin marketing and promoting your book!

In this post, we’re going to examine the advantages of building your network among the experts in your field, which usually includes the authors of existing titles in your field.

The main reason to build your expert network as early as possible is so you can obtain pre-publication quotes for the front and back covers of your book. The better known the expert, the more credibility their quote will add to your book!

Books by new authors, especially, benefit from the credibility that an established author’s name and comment can add to your book. When a recognized expert endorses your book, some of their fame and trust rubs off on you; this reduces the hesitation involved in buying a book by a new author.

Why will authors of competing books endorse your book?

On the surface, you may wonder why authors are usually willing to endorse competing books.

The reason is simple; when their endorsement appears on the cover of your book, their endorsement benefits them almost as much as you. Their name and quote on your book cover reinforces their expert status in the field. Equally important, it maintains their visibility and reminds readers of their book, or books.

Their endorsement of your book also positions them in a favorable light, demonstrating their willingness to “do the right thing” and help newcomers to the field. In addition, I’ve found most authors like to help other authors. Chances are, when they were starting out, they benefited from the guidance and support of earlier experts. The support they offer you is their way of giving thanks and keeping the good vibes flowing.

Other benefits of expert networking

Once you establish communication and create an e-mail or telephone relationship with an expert in your field, of course, there’s no way of knowing where that relationship will take you. If you and the expert “click,” the benefits might extend to:

  • Interviews. You might be able to interview the expert for your book, and the expert might recommend others who might provide additional information or testimonials.
  • Increased presence in your book. If the expert really likes what they see of your book, they might be willing to provide an Introduction or Foreword for your book. They might even consider providing a chapter, or more, for your book.
  • Introductions to other experts. An expert might be able to pave the way for you to successfully re-contact individuals who, previously, did not respond to your initial e-mail or telephone communications.
  • Referrals and pass-alongs. Another advantage of establishing your expert network is that they might pass your name along to meeting planners looking for additional speakers, or refer coaching and consulting prospects to you when they can’t take on the project themselves.

So, the networking you do to obtain book cover quotes from experts in your field might be just opening the door to future opportunities and projects.

3 Steps to Success

Today, thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to communicate with published authors and other high-visibility experts in your field.

The following is a simple 3-step process that has worked for me and many of my book coaching clients.

Step 1: Target the right experts

The first step is to identify the experts whose endorsement will do the most good for your book. Begin with the authors of existing books in your field, then expand your search to others who may have had firsthand experience with the problem or goal you are addressing in your book.

As you broaden your search, search for bloggers, reporters, and other commentators who write about the topic. Search for educators who may have conducted research in your field or spoken on the topic. Finally, if appropriate, consider searching for well-known business owners or celebrities who may have had personal experiences with the topic you’re writing about. If the celebrity approach makes sense, don’t try to make direct contact, but locate their publicist who could put you in contact with them.

Most important, develop a system to track the results of your expert search. In addition to their website and contact information, for example, jot down how you located them and the reason their endorsement will add credibility to your book.

During the first step, avoid prematurely contacting the individuals. Continue your research before moving on to Step Two.

Step 2: Prepare your initial contact

The key to success in building your expert network is to create connections, or build bridges, to the expert. You must pave the way for your initial contact. Here are some ideas:

  • Authors. If they have written a book, read it. Pay particular attention to the chapters that are relevant to your topic, and take detailed notes.
  • Social marketing. If they have a blog, familiarize yourself with their previous posts and comment whenever appropriate on their latest posts. Reference their blog posts on your blog. Follow their Tweets on and Retweet when appropriate.
  • Speeches. If they are speaking or presenting in your area, attend the event so that you can later reference the event in your communications. Likewise, if possible, try to attend their teleseminars, webinars, and workshops.

Look for connectors who may already have an established association with the expert. Connectors take many forms. Perhaps they are peers, perhaps they studied with them, worked with them, or have hired them in the past. Any plausible connection that can be expanded into the subject line of an e-mail is preferable to a cold call from a stranger.

Next, prepare a package containing detailed information about your project, but don’t include your entire manuscript, and don’t immediately send it! What I have found works well is a PDF containing:

  • 1-page mission statement describing your book’s “big idea,” it’s intended market, and a brief statement of reader benefits.
  • Detailed table of contents, with primary and secondary headings.
  • 2 sample chapters.

Experts are busy; avoid information overkill. Send the minimum needed to communicate the quality of your project. If the recipient wants to see more, they’ll let you know!

In your initial communication, be as concise and polite as possible as you explain why you’re contacting them. Reference their article, book, blog, or speech. Describe its relevance to your book.

Conclude by asking their permission to send them more information about your project, and ask them if they prefer an electronic PDF file or printed copies.

If they express interest, send your information package as soon as possible. (That’s why you want to prepare it before you contact them.) The goal of your initial communication is to get them to agree to taking a look at your materials, not to immediately generate a suitable endorsement. Remember: you’re asking a favor, and a significant one; you’re asking them to put their seal of approval on your book.

Step 3: Follow-up and track the results

Don’t despair if you do not immediately receive a response to your initial communication. Never assume a lack of response is a rejection.

Instead, allow a week, or 10 days, to go by before you re-contact them. Send a follow-up e-mail, and- -again- -keep it as short as possible.

Persistence pays off! Keep on their radar scope with short, relevant, e-mails at consistent intervals. It may take several e-mails, but, that’s okay! The expert may be traveling, on deadline, or on jury duty, only responding to e-mails from recognized clients or peers.

Eventually, however, the pressure will go away. At that point, they may go through their unopened e-mail and be intrigued enough by your persistence to respond favorably to your request for permission to send them information and samples from your book.

Indeed, they may even pick-up the phone and call you, to find out who’s the person behind the e-mail!

Visit my Active Garage resource center, where you can download a worksheets for expert networking, and previous Author Journey topics

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