To be an author is a status many work hard to attain. Most of that work is invisible to the reader’s eye. Much of it doesn’t involve creative writing.
The roles and responsibilities of an author go far beyond producing a wonderful manuscript. Writer is one role and the manuscript is one important responsibility. There are other roles besides writer and many more responsibilities.
The role an author plays in the marketing and sales of their own book is one that trips up authors more than any other. Some can’t get over the psychological hurdle that publishing is a business. As though mixing art and commerce were a cardinal sin. The big taboo. Unfortunately they mistake the author’s role in marketing and sales as self-promotion. Those who accept these responsibilities need the tools to manage and coordinate the business of being a professional.
There is an enormous amount of information to keep track of when you plan to publish a book. You may have a full time job and other roles and responsibilities that take priority. Finding efficient ways to manage your literary career is important.
Business cards, slips of paper, cocktail napkins, ripped corners from envelopes, and receipts. Might look like scraps of trash, but consider it unrefined crude oil. These bits of data – names, addresses, email and website addresses, Twitter handles, telephone numbers, etc. – are the fuel that will drive your future book sales.
When you tell friends and associates what you are working on, take note of those who ask you to keep them informed of your book’s progress. Get the reference librarian interested in your project and take contact information. If you interview sources for your research, it’s important to notify them prior to publication. At social events you may meet people who are interested in your project, so gather their names now. If you send out articles – excerpts or adaptations – for publication, the names of editors and specifics for submission are data to keep on hand for future reference. If a journalist interviews you or writes a feature story about your project, you’ll want to stay in contact. Speaking engagements, conferences, readings, and literary events yield more contacts. Bookstores, institutes, museums, and foundations. As you seek copyright permissions, you’ll need names and addresses for those whose work you plan to include in your own. With every contact you make along the path toward publication, you are also getting potential customers invested in the production of your book and creating market demand for your product. Your contacts are your advanced sales team.
If you have a blog, do you have an email subscription available? Blog subscribers are an important contribution to your Contact Relations Management system. It is always a good idea to have an email sign-up for notification of your book’s publication. This is perhaps the most important list of contacts you will develop in your audience platform. Those who opt-in to receive notification of publication define your audience.
Readers of your blog posts who leave comments. Facebook friends, fans, groups. Tweeps. LinkedIn connections. Circles on Google +. Scattered datapoints across platforms. Wrangling all that data related to the business of your book requires an organizational system.
Contact Relations Management. CRM. Software that allows a company (or in this case, an author) to manage all your professional interactions with current and future book-buying customers. Which one makes it easy and efficient for an author? I use and recommend one in particular after doing a great deal of product research for book development.
The key to a good CRM for an author is whether it is easily integrated with other software, can be customized to your needs, and offers an efficient way to manage all the data. LessAnnoyingCRM does that and more.
Free 30 day trial. $10 per month if you become a subscriber. Given the countless hours and headaches it will save you in the long term, it is worth every penny every month. Why? Here are some of the reasons I like it so much.
Less Annoying CRM provides an author with an office workplace to do all their book-related business. It’s like opening your screen to work at an office desk with electronic file cabinet.
You can email a contact directly without having to leave one program and log into your email account.
Every email you send is blindcopied into a dropbox and delivered into that contact’s file in your workplace so all of your correspondence and attachments are in one place.
You can easily upload and download documents into an individual’s contact file. So you know which version of Chapter 6 you sent last week in ten seconds instead of wasting ten minutes, or two hours.
Cloud storage convenience and download backups available.
Synches up beautifully with Google. Integrate your google calendar and gmail and import your contacts in seconds.
LessAnnoyingCRM also synches up with Mail Chimp, an email marketing solutions program we also recommend to authors. It allows you to organize targeted lists in LessAnnoyingCRM and easily import them for targeted messages. In short, it serves double duty in making your email marketing a snap. It is free to users with less than 2,000 email addresses in any list. And you can use it to deliver your WordPress blog to email subscribers.
There are easy video tutorials and very strong technical support. Less Annoying CRM was started in 2009 by two brothers, Bracken and Tyler. They actually answer the telephone and talk to you. That counts in my book.
The payoff for the author in having a good CRM begins in the pre-launch publicity and marketing of your book’s publication. This tool makes it possible for an author to spend less of their time and money on database management and more on the marketing message.
If you would like help managing the business of being an author, please contact us to learn more about our services in literary management.