Collaboration is the Building Block of Success

At age 58, I still consider myself a girl– more specifically, a small town girl who’s always had a big dream to be a published author. And although I tried and failed many times, I still kept at it, and I still had hope.

When I first heard Words Matter Publishing was publishing my romance suspense series, The Vengeance Series, beginning with Deception & Consequences, I honestly thought I had it made. Now my books would sell themselves, and I could sit back and maybe write some more. Looking back now, I can see that I was clearly delusional.

I now understand exactly what my publisher meant when she said, “Now the hard work begins.” At the time I thought that statement was in reference to her and her team, not understanding that I was the leader of that team and that being a dynamic part of promoting my book made the difference between sinking or swimming.

What did I know about marketing and advertising and sales? Can’t someone else be in charge of that stuff? Well, I suppose, but this is MY dream. This is MY brand. This is ME investing in MYSELF because I believe that what I’m doing has potential and worth. Why would I put that treasure completely in someone else’s hands? My publishing team is absolutely phenomenal, and I would be completely lost without them, but I have learned that selling books and growing a brand is big business that needs all-hands-on-deck, especially the hands that wrote the books.

In addition to being completely humbled by my delusions, the next most critical piece of information I learned is that small town girls need their small towns to get behind them. Small town girls need the wisdom and the networking savvy that other small businesses bring to the table. Even though these people knew me, were eager to help, and wanted nothing in return, I didn’t want to come to the table empty handed. So I got to thinking: What can I offer them? And it was this question that led to a series of small business collaborations that have jumpstarted my book sales and the familiarity of my brand.

When I pitched a competition among three local bars to see who could sell the most books in the month of March, all three bar owners went for it without batting an eye. And while books aren’t usually paired with bars, we all thought that was the hook of the whole project. I obviously got sales, and the bars got social media and local media coverage as well as a reason to do a little friendly ‘trash talking.’ And what did the patrons receive? Everyone who bought a book got a custom plastic cup and a drink chip, plus a chance to win $250 at the end of the promotion.

This was a simple idea that united four small businesses with some friendly competition. The uniqueness of the promotion and my implementation as the author from the small town made this project work. For the month of March, everyone was talking about Books & Brews, and that meant everyone was talking about my book and the bars involved. That’s the power of collaboration.

Since my success with Books & Brews, I have paired with other small businesses, sometimes quite accidentally. For example, I frequently give the boutique where I buy a lot of my clothes shout outs on social media, but a lot of people do that. Let me explain though, that this simple act became something much larger when the boutique owner asked if I wanted to have an After Hours Party with friends and family, and I decided, ‘why not’?

The evening was a huge success, and it turned out that most of the people I invited had never been in the shop, and they all bought something. To me, and definitely to the shop owner, that detail translated to new regular customers. As a result of their sales that night, I got store credit, which allowed me to buy two new outfits for my upcoming book launch. Then all four ladies working overtime that night bought one of my books. And that’s not all. The next morning I woke up to a tremendous Facebook pump by the store owner who posted a picture of my book and gave me a stellar write up, introducing me to her entire list of Facebook friends. This whole chain reaction of exposure was not planned. It just happened, and it’s one more example, proving that no one can truly succeed on their own. We all need a little bit of what others can give.

Looking back on my earlier attempts at writing success, I now see the error of my ways. I needed more support. I know I never would have gotten this far this time without the help and encouragement of so many others. My point is simple. If you truly want to catch your big dreams instead of just keep chasing them, don’t be so proud and think that you can do it all by yourself. Collaboration is the building block of success. If you have something to give that will help someone else, give it and they will respond by also helping you. The end result just might put your big dream within reach.