Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make The First Move

Last week I was teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference near Asheville, North Carolina. It is an outstanding conference and I enjoyed meeting many new writers. It is always interesting to listen to their ideas and see how I can help them.

Throughout the conference I met dozens of writers and spoke with them about the Intermedia Publishing Group program. In today's publishing environment, it is a challenge to get published at times. The clear advantage of a program like Intermedia is how quickly we can get your book produced with excellence and into the marketplace. We can get your book into the market in about 90 to 120 days as opposed to the typical 18 to 24 months of a traditional publishing house. For many unpublished authors, the Intermedia system is attractive. After talking with these writers about our program, I would exchange business cards with them. Some of them did not have a business card. For those situations, I made a point of collecting their information in a notebook or on another scrap of paper so I would have it to follow-up with them. Why?

From my years in publishing, I understand the importance of maintaining a connection and following up. Any writers' conference is a wonderful experience and many ideas are exchanged. Which ideas actually become reality? The ideas which are carried out are the ones where there is follow-up and an on-going connection.

In the last couple of days, I've already heard from a few writers I met during the conference. We've exchanged emails and are in touch with each other. I encourage you to follow-up with the people you met while the memory is fresh.

My first step is always to get their contact information into my computer. If their contact information is on a business card or another scrap of paper, then it is hard to access. In some cases, I will type in their information. In other cases I use a business card scanner. The scanner isn't perfect but it is simple and will synch with my Outlook files. If you have the person's business card data in your computer, you can always find it using a free tool like Google Desktop. The process begins in my view with saving the other person's contact information.

The next step is to reach out to the person with a short email. I often express gratitude that we met and in my signature line, I give the other person something of value (a free Ebook or a link to my twitter feed for continued contact).

Many people stop after sending this first follow-up note. Like many of you, I receive a lot of email (several hundred a day). After a trip like last week, I'm behind on answering my email and a number of different areas. As a typical publisher, I have authors that I'm working with on their projects and a number of things that prevent my follow-up work. Yet I understand the importance and I'm working as quickly as I can to follow-up and connect to the people that I met.

Here's something else to understand: email doesn't always reach the intended person. Maybe my email got caught in their SPAM filter and was accidentally deleted. Maybe I inputed their address wrong and it never reached them in the first place. If you need to connect to the person and do not hear from them, there is nothing wrong with sending a short little email to see if they received your first email. If you still do not hear something, there is nothing wrong with using the telephone and checking to see if they received your information.

At the end of the day, it is the connection and relationship that you want to build and to last way beyond a single conference. It's one of the important lessons that I've learned about the publishing business.

Gentle persistence with your communication works from my experience. You can achieve your publishing dreams as you reach out to the other person and make the first move.

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