Here at Write for Wiley, we are launching a series of interviews with authors called Take Note and Promote. Each of our interviewees will offer insight into their own experiences, as well as advice for anyone who would like to take charge of their own promotions.
First up, we spoke to Hedley Rees, author of “Supply Chain Management in the Drug Industry.” Based out of the United Kingdom, he has been in the industry for 35 years and is an expert in pharmaceutical & life sciences operations and supply chain management. He had some very interesting things to say about self-promotion, including the importance of LinkedIn and, above all, having a passion for the subject matter.
If you would to participate in this series, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Write for Wiley: Why did you decide to start promoting yourself?
Hedley Rees: Because I was getting 5 star reviews from people who knew me, but the sales were extremely low. Some experienced authors I knew explained that you can’t rely on the publisher; you must promote yourself, so I set about doing that.
When did you decide to start promoting yourself?
About 2 months after the book launched (Feb 2011) during April 2011.
What is your major goal of self-promotion?
Make my name synonymous with the subject area – become a recognized world leading expert and thought leader in pharmaceutical operations and supply chain management.
How many hours on average a week do you spend with marketing yourself?
At the start I was spending 3 or 4 hours a day networking and connecting with like-minded people on LinkedIn; also, writing numerous articles for journals and industry publications, doing podcasts/webinars and preparing for conference presentations. It is something less now, but it was at that level for at least 18 months.
What do you enjoy most about promoting yourself?
Writing and speaking on a subject I am passionate about and sharing experiences/insights with those who had a interest in what I was saying. Also, receiving great reviews from people I knew and respected – that was very satisfying.
What do you enjoy the least?
It was difficult to find the right balance between putting yourself out there, whilst not switching people off with flagrant self promotion. Also, as a new author, all the opportunities for self promotion are unpaid, so trying to hold the faith that it would lead to greater things was a constant challenge – and my wife and family did not always understand.
Tell us about one successful experience you’ve had with self-promotion.
I had an email out of the blue from a VP of Development at a well known compliance software company, based in Ireland, saying he had seen my status update on LinkedIn and had bought my book and was using it as a reference for a new product they were developing. They invited me to provide consultancy for them and also paid for me to be keynote speaker at their annual conference in Florida.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge by far has been the costs of self-promotion (time and travel etc) with very little income because you have no time to do a ‘proper job’. In hindsight, I would have tried to negotiate an advance, but the downside of that is it has to be re-paid from ‘unknown’ royalties. Another big challenge is overcoming the perception that because you are the author, you must be biased in some way, so you have to find subtle ways of getting others to do your promotion for you.
Describe a situation that has been unsuccessful.
I had a strategy on LinkedIn of connecting with people who had shared contacts and interests, mentioning that I had written the book. That worked fine and I accumulated 2,500 very relevant contacts. I then tried sending email shots to them, attaching the reviews – but people never seemed to take the time to read them and I never had any feedback.
In your opinion, what are the best resources for an author (programs, contacts, social networks etc)?
LinkedIn is excellent – you can use status updates to keep people informed, but you have to build a large network of like-minded connections. That was very time consuming because I had to get introductions etc. I also started 2 LinkedIn discussion groups –Friends Of Modernization In the Drug Industry (FOMDI) and Friends of Improvement in Pharma Supply-chains (FIPS). These are closed groups and only those with relevant background are admitted. We debate various issues and share interesting information. That gets my name out without having to mention the book. Outside of that, I have been able to leverage my professional network giving podcasts, webinars, etc for a multitude of social media publishers.
What is one major thing you’ve learned through the self-promotion process?
To forget I have written a book and become absorbed in the subject matter – when people know what you stand for and what you can do, they discover you have written a book, almost by accident. Get out there; speak at as many conferences that will have you, paid or unpaid, write articles on what you believe in and above all, to say what I think is the truth, whether they buy my book or not.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to market themselves but is short on time?
If you don’t have time, you need money to pay a professional to do it all on your behalf, but even that requires a certain amount of time. If you are an academic of course, that also makes it easier, as you will have an income irrespective of book sales.
Check out his website and LinkedIn profile.