This is immediately pertinent to what I’m doing today, so I’m writing about it. Mind you, it started out as a work project, and it simply applies really well to my writing lifestyle. It applies to yours, too, because the author life is more than writing.
Once you have your manuscript, you need editors, artists, a publisher, an agent, readers, an inner circle of writers, PAs, and countless others. These relationships are similar to business: you can have a relationship or a transaction.
Relationship vs Transaction
Simple business concept. A transaction is one and done. I have what Jim needs. Jim buys it from me. We part ways. The next time Jim needs something, there is no loyalty or investment between us, so Jim will use who he wants. This is a transaction.
Instead, I guided Jim. I asked him what his restaurant menu is (this is my day job, after all). He wants to get a 24″ griddle, but he wants primarily burgers. They’ll get a better flavor profile on a charbroiler. I tell him this, and go through some basics on his line up based on his menu.
The next time I see him, I start the meeting with how his kid did at t-ball. I talk about my daughter losing her first tooth. Then we discuss what type of cooler space he needs compared to the volume he’s selling. But I don’t sell that style of cooler he wants, so I point him to someone else.
Now we have a relationship. He knows that I am here to help him, not just send him a price, ask for a signature and give it to him. After the sale, I check in with Jim every now and then to make sure everything is okay, and see if he needs anything.
As an author you have your editor. Sure you can hire a different one every time, but then you have to go through the process. You aren’t sure what you’re getting in personality and quality.
If you know your editor, keep in touch even when you don’t need them, and you work well together, you know who you’re editing with next. You know what to expect.
This extends to readers, other authors (because you want to be visible on other platforms), artists, and so on.
Now you need to keep track of everything. You’re not big enough for a CRM (and if you are, that is amazing, and I applaud your efforts), so you have to figure out your own way.
I would use Google Drive’s spread sheet, or Excel. I prefer Drive because it can convert to Excel and it’s at your fingertips.
Create tabs at the bottom. Reader, artist, editor, author, friends, etc. Whatever you end up needing. I know friends sounds a little callous. It’s obviously not part of writing, but you have friends. Those relationships can easily get confused with, “But I stalked them on FB the other day, so we’re good, right?” No. Have a friends tab.
I would ensure the top row sticks. Go to view, click “Freeze,” and top row.
At the top, write Name, Company, Phone, Email, Frequency, Location, First Contact, Last Contact, and Notes. You may also want a social media column, since chances are that’s where you interact with these contacts.
Most of that is self explanatory. Chances are your frequency should be monthly, quarterly, or 6 months. For those really distant contacts, a year.
Notes is personal notes. You have likely 50 to 100 contacts if you’re just starting. Those who have been at it for a while? They’re at a thousand. How do you keep straight which one has the dog named Fluffy? Did they also have kids? This is what you place under Notes.
Again, likely sounds callous, but it’s easy to forget these details when you aren’t talking to them as often and when they are not frequently in your life.
Every day spend around 30 minutes on your contacts. Check the frequency, just start going down, and update last contact in accordance with the frequency assigned to the contact.
When you do reach out, you want to talk them a little. I know, it’s weird, but if you think of it, we’re stalking each other all the time, and not just that, we’re opening the door to stalkers. So don’t think too hard on it.
Send out that you think it’s awesome they got a new house. Congratulate them on their kid losing a tooth. Don’t ask if they need anything. Don’t try to sell them anything. Basically just say, I care about you, I’m invested, how’s life?
This is not original to me. I’ve gotten this from a dozen sources. Some of it I made my own, but the wisdom within is from podcasts, companies I’ve worked with, blogs, and business books. If you Google the concept, you will find so much reading material. That’s how important this is.
Go make your spreadsheet today. You don’t need to populate it. Tomorrow do that. Just sit down with Facebook, a rolledex, phone contacts, whatever you have, and just start putting them in. Do it for 30 minutes. Do that every day for 30 minutes until you’re filled up.