Meet A Need--Build A Quick Audience
It's a rather frequent conversation that I have with authors about their visibility in the marketplace. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, publishers and literary agents want to work with writers who have a direct personal relationship to their audience. In these entries on The Writing Life, I've encouraged you to build that relationship through regular communication, such as starting a blog or electronic newsletter.
One of the keys to building that connection to the audience will be finding a need and filling it. While this aspect is critical for nonfiction, it can work on the fiction side as well. In this entry, I want to tell you about Peter Shankman. He found a need, filled it and built a quick audience in the process. Also every author or publisher will be interested in what he has built because you can tap into this resource.
Peter has a number of reporter friends who were regularly calling him to tap into his large database for story sources. To meet this need of reporters to be connected to specific people, he launched Help A Report Out on Facebook. It quickly grew beyond the limit of 1,200 emails and launched it on the HARO website. If you visit this site, you will see that it is simple to subscribe--and free. You will receive three emails a day from Peter which contain the different reporter needs he has received. If you have a story or a product or something to help the journalist, then you contact that person directly.
Peter makes it clear that individuals should only contact the reporter if they have something to meet their particular need. It is not a way to collect reporters email addresses for more SPAM. If he gets complaints about you, then he can boot you off the list. He has built an impressive series of contacts with a number of high profile outlets in radio, print, television and the Internet.
HARO also makes the reverse service available. If you are writing a book or a magazine article and need a certain type of person, then you can use his other site to broadcast your need and locate a certain type of person.
In a short amount of time, Peter Shankman has built a list of almost 15,000 emails that he writes three times a day. Each one of those emails gives Peter a chance to talk about what he's doing in a paragraph or two before he gives the queries from the last few hours. I've been fascinated to see how he found a need, filled it and is using that need to build relationships--and a quick audience.
Can you do likewise with the topic that you are passionate about?