It’s Not Who You Know

From the third season of the 90’s sitcom Seinfeld, this classic interchange:

Car Rental Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment. 

Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?

Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.

Agent: I know why we have reservations.

Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.

A classic example of the importance of both parties in any relationship needing to be on the same page!

In this social media-driven world, it has never been more true that, “it doesn’t matter who you know, but who knows you.”  You can follow the lives and exploits of any number of well-known people. You know everything about them, but if you were standing next to a bale of hay, they wouldn’t know you.

The issue of who knows you, is the secret ingredient of an effective author marketing platform, the all-important issue that keeps coming up with every agent, every publisher and at every writer’s conference.

A spiritual example of this is in that horrifying passage from Matthew 7:23 where Jesus said, ”I never knew you.” I often wonder why we ask others if they know Jesus when we should probably be asking them if Jesus knows them!

Back to social media. Getting a website, Facebook page or Twitter handle is no more “social” than driving down Main Street in your town waving at people. They might wave back because you waved, but they aren’t going to agree to help you move furniture. Friends do that. It is said, ”Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies”. (Sorry, I just had to find a way to force that quote into a blog post)

Using any of the techniques to pump up your social media numbers other than a slow, methodical climb up the mountain will yield disappointing results when it comes time to ask those “friends” to promote your book.

Years ago, non-profit organizations used “premiums” to get people to send donations to the organization. Some still do.

The use of premiums declined markedly over the years when it became clear that purchasers of premiums were not necessarily concerned with the mission and goals of the organization, but in getting a product for a tax deductible donation. (Tax law changes also affected the decline, as donors could only count as a donation that part of the gift over and above the actual cost of the premium)

To show how easy, or complicated (as the case may be) it is to make devoted followers in social media, let’s explore how you make a real human friend.

  • You care about them.
  • You listen more than you talk.
  • You know stuff about them.
  • You pray for them.
  • You serve them.
  • You share your heart

All of this takes time and there are no shortcuts.

In your blog, website and in-person connections, filter every “author platform marketing strategy” through the above list. You should be translating those principles into tangible social media interaction.

I can almost guarantee that the quicker you move to convert your social media  “friends” into people who buy or recommend your books, the less success you will have doing just that. It’s like asking a person you just met to help you move a piano. They might do it once to be nice, but good luck getting them to pick up the phone when you call again next week. Caller-ID lets you know who your real friends are.

This is why I have stated before that you should take as much time building your author platform as you write.

Social media friend-building is only complicated if you think it is a scientific pursuit of “market segments” or “demographic groupings”.

If you look at it from the perspective of how a person might grow real friendships, anyone can be a social media guru.


Leave a Comment

Actually, The World is Pretty Big

At one time or another, every one of us have remarked how small the world is, usually caused by meeting someone by chance and finding out that you both know a certain person, or went to school with the person, are both reading the same books, are fans of the …

Read More

Myths of The Author Platform

There are three myths about “Author Platform” that I want to address today.  Since I started my publishing career in marketing, I’ve seen the issue from a number of different angles and hopefully today’s post will be helpful. Myth #1 Author platform is a new issue in the last few …

Read More

But I Won a Contest

Contests cost both time and money to enter. Not to mention effort. Are they worth it? Yes, they are. Becoming a finalist is one way to get noticed. Sometimes the first prize awarded the winner is publication with a certain publisher. But will a contest win always lead to publication? …

Read More

Generally Speaking, Think of Someone in Particular

Any mode of communication requires an audience to justify itself.  Even someone shouting on a street corner will have someone hear them, if even in passing. An audience of one only goes so far. While everyone talks to themselves, if you do it too much, you will end up talking …

Read More

4 Tips for Surviving a Writers Conference

by Steve Laube I’ve had the fun of teaching at nearly 150 writers conferences over the years. In that time I’ve noticed a number of common things that all writers face. Let’s explore a few tips that may help you survive at the next one you attend. Relax The most …

Read More

How to Be A Reader’s Favorite Author

Last week in this space, I wrote about how you could become a publisher’s favorite author (other than selling millions of books).  Today, we’ll go a little different direction and talk about what you would need to do to become a favorite author to your readers. A key difference between …

Read More

Hug a Librarian

by Steve Laube It all began in elementary school. I discovered our city’s public library with the help of my mom. I soon began walking there regularly after school. While there, in what seemed to be a massive building, I would explore the rows and rows of books. Plucking one …

Read More