Publishing is a competitive industry, so it might come as a surprise to hear that some of the most successful authors out there are also the ones who are most likely to collaborate, support and be friends with other authors.
To be honest, I see fiction authors doing this a lot more (and better) than nonfiction authors. That probably shouldn’t be surprising. Fiction authors run in the same circles. They belong to the same online writers forums, they participate in NaNoWriMo together, and if they write genre fiction, they may belong to an organization such as RWA (for romance writers) or SFWA (for sci-fi writers). So they get to know each other as authors.
Nonfiction authors, on the other hand, are more likely to hang out with other people in their fields—health, fitness, or business experts, for instance—who may or may not be authors themselves. They may collaborate on summits, conferences or other events, but it often doesn’t occur to them that they could collaborate to market their books as well.
Since it’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, I figured it’s as good a time as any to talk about how authors can show a little love for each other — and get a little in return. Here are a three collaborative tactics that authors can use to build their brands, grow their lists and sell more books:
Guest Post Opportunities
A lot of authors with blogs invite other authors (usually in a similar genre) to guest post. It gives them material for their blog and allows other authors to reach a wider audience. Win-win.
Authors who do this don’t worry about losing sales to their guest poster; they know that if someone is interested in a subject, they’ll probably buy multiple books about it. It’s a chance for them to keep their readers engaged while simultaneously strengthening friendships with other authors and positioning themselves as leaders in their field with strong connections.
It’s not usually difficult to get guest posters. Don’t be afraid to set specific expectations around length, quality and deadline, and just start asking in groups and forums or even approaching people individually. At the same time look for opportunities where you could add value to someone’s blog—perhaps the topic of your book is a good supplement to something that someone else is doing—pitch them and see what happens.
Sometimes authors will group together, all put their books on sale at the same time, and share the sale with their lists and on social media. These sales sometimes take place around a particular holiday, such as Valentines Day or New Years. (If the standard holidays don’t work with your theme, you can find a National Day/Month for just about anything you’d like. Check Days of the Year.)
It doesn’t take too much effort to put together a group sale. Find some fellow authors in a similar niche who serve a similar audience, agree on dates for the sale and a promotion schedule, and go!
A couple of years ago, some fiction authors began taking the collaborative promotion idea a little further and combine their books into “box sets”— basically a e-book bundle that included one book by each author. The goal wasn’t so much to make money (often the box set was just $0.99); it was more about the number of copies sold. In some cases authors were able to sell enough qualify as New York Times or USA Today best sellers. (If you’d like an account of how one group of authors managed this, you can read it here.)
And of course, it’s a great way to reach new readers. There’s no reason that nonfiction authors serving a similar niche couldn’t bundle their books into a set and harness their collective promotional power, including buying advertising. The books could either be on the same topic (e.g., fitness) or could be grouped under a common theme (e.g., healthier living).
There are a few extra steps to creating a box set (you’ll need set up an e-book file and 3D cover image as well as have an agreement for all the contributors in place), but a well-executed box set campaign can help you reach whole new audiences—and maybe even snag a spot on a coveted bestseller list.
Give it a go?
I hope this has sparked some ideas on how you could work with other authors in your niche to promote each other’s books. If you’ve tried anything like this in the past, or if you have other ideas on how authors could collaborate, please share below!