Bloggers have been successful because of the relationships generated with other bloggers, authors, publishers and booksellers. Because of our willingness to use the power of the Internet and build relationships, the entire book industry has sat up and taken notice of the importance of book bloggers.
Because there is a serious dearth of independent booksellers in my area, I have not been able to build a special working relationship with a specific bookseller. However, thanks to the power of Twitter, I have been able to promote various booksellers through retweeting and letting friends on Facebook know of special events and promotions. I also try to visit these same booksellers whenever I visit the town/city in which each bookstore is located. Showing my support for independent bookstores, no matter where they are located, is one way of building relationships.
I have had the pleasure of attending a regional trade show, where I was able to mingle with authors, booksellers, and publishers. It was a great way of getting the word out about my blog, and my presence at the trade show indicated how serious I was about building relationships and representing authors and publishers to my audience. Through e-mails and Twitter, I have been able to become quite friendly with them and know that there is a mutual respect between us. In fact, I look forward to any opportunity to meet them again to further strengthen our relationships.
Speaking of meeting fellow bloggers/publishers/authors/booksellers, outside of Twitter and other social media sites, meeting someone in person is the best method to build long-lasting relationships. I have jumped at the chance to meet bloggers, whether it is a formal book function or just a few people meeting for coffee or lunch. Through this method, I have been lucky enough to have established legitimate friendships, spending long weekends with several of them. These friendships have enhanced the blogging experience because I know that they can understand some of the stresses and frustrations that occur with blogging. Similarly, we can commiserate and champion various books or encourage the other to read a book that the other would have never considered reading. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that is even more special because it transcends a regular blogging relationship and has become something more. You never know when these friendships will occur, so I say get out there and meet your fellow bloggers. Even if you do not find a BFF, you will never regret the stronger professional relationships that results from these meetings.
Any good book industry relationship is built through time and effort. Do not be afraid to become active on Twitter. Speak up and speak often. Jump into on-going conversations. No one, and I mean no one, will be offended by this. Private conversations tend to occur via direct messages or e-mails, so everything else is fair game. Take advantage of this because this is how you start building relationships. Also, do not be afraid to meet bloggers as often as possible. This does more for strengthening relationships than any Twitter conversation and can be quite fun to finally meet someone who is as passionate about books as you are.
Once you do all these things, you cannot stop there. Good relationships, like good marriages, require continual effort to maintain. E-mails, phone calls, Twitter conversations, blog commenting and more in-person meetings will strengthen and enhance these newly-formed relationships. Whether it is with an author, a publisher, a bookseller or a fellow blogger, you will not regret this output of energy because relationships are what make blogging truly rewarding.