by Erin Mitchell
Earlier this year, Jon Jordan told me a brilliant story. I might get some of the details wrong, but it basically went like this:
Years ago, Ian Rankin was introducing Jon and Ruth to a group of people. [Editor’s Note: In case you live under a rock, Ian is the author of the Inspector Rebus series (among other things, including books and music, and Jon and Ruth are the force behind Crimespree Magazine, among many other things.] In his own inimitable style, the eloquent Scotsman explained that just as when someone sneezes on a plane and makes all the passengers sick, when Jon and Ruth advocate for a book or author, they infect those near and far. They are the sneeze on the plane when it comes to books.
As I seem to do every year at this time, I’ve been thinking a lot about books as gifts (I actually don’t give many of them except to myself, but that’s a topic for another post) and also the books I’ve loved most this year, from authors both long-beloved and new to me. Which has led me to pondering influence, and the value of cultivating those who will advocate for your books.
As traditional measurement goes—that is, circulation—Crimespree Magazine isn’t huge. Marketing types who aren’t involved in the crime fiction community could, therefore, underestimate its importance and the immense value Jon and Ruth bring to the visibility of a book or author brand. But if one looks at this community, it becomes quickly apparent that Jon and Ruth are among the architects of the world in which today’s crime fiction readers (and book buyers) live. They take immense joy in sharing their love of books and authors, and they are trusted by everyone in the ecosystem—readers, yes, and also publishers, publicists, librarians, and booksellers.
My point here, though, is not to incite a deluge of emails to Jon and Ruth imploring them to read your book. I’m using them as a prime example of the vast influence people who Be the Sneeze can—and do—have, and hoping that you will embrace your influencers, regardless of their “traditional metrics” reach.
For example, when a blogger takes the time to read and review your book, that person should immediately climb to the top of your Marketing Priority List. You should say “thank you,” of course, and you should also get to know that person who has already invested the time to tell her or his audience about you and your book.
On Twitter, don’t be deceived by a seemingly low follower count. Remember follower count does not reach make; the latter number is generally much higher.
In the Real World, when you see someone buying your book—or even just looking at it in a store—don’t be too shy as to introduce yourself and thank them.
And because I believe in Karma, be sure to Be the Sneeze yourself. When you read a book you like, tell people about it. It will come back to you many-fold.