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Is Reciprocity What's Lacking in Marketing of Most Indie African American Books?

Posted on December 12, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Some call it paying it forward. Someone does a good deed for you and in return you do a good deed for someone else. Paying it forward or reciprocity (you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours) is a simple concept but one we don't see in action as often as we should. In the world of writing, it is a simplistic approach to marketing that is free and if used wisely could make a huge difference to many independent authors, yet it's an opportunity that is overlooked all the time.

John Locke, a marketing guru was the first self-published author to sell one million ebooks on Amazon.com, and at the time of his accomplishment was only one of eight to lay claim to such a feat. Locke did not sell one million books because he is a great author, or because he writes phenomenal books. He sold one million books because he devised a plan in which he enlisted people (family, friends, Facebook buddies, Twitter followers, bloggers, etc) to help promote his work. In addition to writing multiple books, and selling them for .99 cents, his most important and beneficial task was to get people to share, like, and forward whatever he posted on his various social media accounts. It's really simple math, get 100 people to each share with 100 people, and then get all of those people to share with everyone they know. Once people started downloading the books he encouraged them to rate his books, and write reviews. It didn't matter if they liked the books or not, just write the review, and he would do the rest.

So what does that have to do with reciprocity? Just imagine if there were other indie authors--and there were--joining in his efforts, and once Locke was successful he in turn rewarded those authors by assisting them in their own marketing campaigns. Now you have numerous authors reaching levels of success that they otherwise would not have reached had they not made a conscious decision to assist Locke in proving a relative unknown author could be equally successful as a best-selling author with a powerhouse publishing company backing him or her with unlimited marketing dollars.

Why do I believe most African American authors lack the understanding of the power of reciprocity when it comes to marketing their work? I see it everyday on various social media sites. Authors rarely give each other praise, recommend each others work, or share information they come across that may help someone else. But what really prompted me to write this blog is one scenario in particular. I have a friend on Facebook by the name of Faydra Deon. She wears many hats but among other things, Faydra is an author and also the African American History columnist for the Examiner.com. Recently she decided to host a feature in her column entitled Fresh Faces in Black Books.  Her goal is to feature 100 new and up-and-coming black authors. I thought it was a great idea and decided to sign on.

Now in my mind, if 100 authors are featured, each story should have 100 likes, 100 shares, 100 tweets, 100 comments, etc, at the bare minimum;even if all the authors have not been featured yet. But with the first 9 or so authors/books posted, and almost 70 authors signed-up to participate, I find it disheartening that Faydra's time and effort to put this together is seemingly going by the wayside. It's as if the authors do not understand that they must make the most of every opportunity presented to them. What is the point of being featured in a blog, or on a website, if you aren't going to let people know the information is out there? And if the author being featured isn't trying to garner interest for their story then what motivates the others to support that person? More important, why should Faydra continue to pour her time, talent, and efforts into assisting authors gain notoriety if they are not going to make use of this free service and awesome platform?

We authors must learn the importance of paying it forward and the give and take of reciprocity. We need to shed the attitude of “I’m not helping him or her because she isn’t helping me,” and “If I tell someone about her book they may not buy mine.” Readers are looking for books and many want to give indie authors a chance, but they need to know we are out here. I know some of you are saying, “Well if I haven’t read a book I’m not going to recommend it.” Sharing a blog, interview, or article about a fellow author doesn’t mean you’re recommending their work; it’s a selfless act that shows you’re willing to share the stage with someone else. It’s like being at a party and introducing the person you just met to your friends...who knows where or how far that introduction could go.

DISCLAIMER: I did not write this blog for, or on behalf of Faydra Deon. I only used her project as an example, but I do encourage you to check-out the interviews and support the authors if you are so inclined.

Much Love,



Categories: Publishing Industry

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