Lessons fom my Day Job: Building a Platform through Relationships

Many of us are out there hitting the pavement and the blogosphere to build a following prior to publication. There’s been a significant push lately for authors to pro-actively make connections before an agent will seriously consider taking them on.

Today, I wanted to share a few insights from the PR world that might help us determine if our efforts to-date have been successful. If nothing else, these are important measures to keep in mind when connecting with readers, fellow writers and publishing contacts.

What’s your relationship status?
We often talk with clients about two main categories of relationships.

An exchange relationship: Person A does something for Person B only because B has provided benefits in the past or will do so in the future. It’s an exchange of something, for something.

A shared relationship: Person A and Person B both act out of genuine concern for the welfare of the other and value the relationship without expecting anything in return.

Exchange relationships are the most common, but shared are the strongest. You probably have a mix of both. Crit partners operate on an exchange basis, for example. You critique my stuff, I’ll critique yours.

Readers and authors have more of a shared relationship (besides the initial purchase of the book). Your readers give you reviews without expecting you to give them anything in return – they’ll join fan clubs and talk you up with their friends just because they think you’re great. And you, as the author, value reader relationships enough to offer free excerpts. You’ll probably “pay each other back” down the road, but in the meantime, you’re happy to interact with other simply because it’s fun.

For most of us at this stage, our blog readers might be our largest audience. A good goal for building that audience is to move steadily from exchange relationships to shared relationships.

Get to the Action Already!
There’s a scale we often use at work to build momentum among a given audience. It has four steps: 1) Awareness, 2) Understanding, 3) Engagement, 4) Action.

In writing terms:

I maybe think I’ve heard you have a book.
Oh, yeah, I kinda sorta stumbled across your blog once.

You write fantasy and I know you have a new book coming out soon.
I know what you’ve blogged about because I occasionally lurk there.

I’ve talked to my friends about your book.
I once posted a comment on your blog.

I bought your book.
I’m a blog follower and comment regularly.

The goal is to move people from Awareness to Action. You might have 1,000 people who are peripherally aware of your book or blog, but those numbers don’t matter much until you can convince your audience to go out and spend money on your book or actively support your efforts to build a larger following. The volume isn’t as important as the level of engagement.

Hope these tips are helpful!

Take a look at your audience so far. What stage in the spectrum do they fall into? And how can you move them closer to Action?


  1. What a wonderful and enlightening post! Thank you so much. Your four steps of action is very simple and very clear! I'm a new follower from the campaign trail! :)

  2. Thanks much - glad you found it useful!

  3. I totally agree. I try to get around to everyone who comments on my blog. And I try to comment on blogs even if they don't comment on mine. I love making new writer friends. It makes me happy to actually have relationships with people instead of just looking at them as a number. You know what I mean? Great post. :)

  4. Very insightful post! I'll be sure to keep these tips in the back of my head whenever I drop by the blogosphere.

  5. Chantele - I know exactly what you mean. That's the true value in connecting with other writers online. It's a great mix of support, kick-you-into-gear motivation and camaraderie!

    GK - Hope it helps.