This post, by Jean Oram, originally appeared on her site on 6/8/12.
Have you ever been asked a favour by another writer? Chances are (if you are online), you have. It might have been critiquing a query or chapter, or helping them with heir marketing and publicity. Lately it seems that writers and authors are flooding social media with lots of favour requests that are unintentionally turning folks off.
I’m sure I’ve done it… how about you?
There is an art in “the ask” and many of us get it wrong. Dreadfully, horribly wrong.
But we can fix it! We writers are awesome at getting into the heads of others, being creative, and being general, all ’round nice people.
Two key things to keep in mind so you don’t abuse other writers. First of all, writers are busy people. Heck, all people are. But writers usually have a lot going on all the time–especially when we are trying to get our career off the ground, or heck, even pushed away from the terminal! Second, we are a very generous sort and love to help out other writers because one day (hopefully soon) we will be in their shoes looking for some friend lovin’ as well. It’s super easy to abuse that unintentionally. (We say yes because we fear we may never be given an opportunity again if we don’t.
A Good Ask
I love this ask that I got via a direct message on Twitter from the lovely and talented author Claire Cook (Must Love Dogs). After a few tweets and mutual follow on Twitter she said in a DM: “Please like my FB author page if you have an extra minute. And let me know if I can like yours! facebook.com/ClaireCookauth….” That is a good ask. I believe I liked her page. I did not ask her to like my pages back even though they are in need of some “like” love. Why? I believed that it wouldn’t fit her brand and it didn’t feel right. But liking her did.
By the way, I get a lot of DM’s asking for FB likes and her’s is the first that has received action. And, at first glance I thought her DM was unlike the others because it felt as though it was meant just for me. Later I realized that it could have been an autosend. But it didn’t feel like it. It felt personal.
KaBOOM!, a playground action group, contacted me via my It’s All Kid’s Play (.ca) website as we had done some tweeting back and forth. They contacted me to ask if I could help spread the word about an upcoming summer challenge. They provided all the information I needed about their challenge as well as a fantastically easy to follow through upon ask that included this tidbit I could copy and paste into Twitter: “My friends at @Kaboom want you to take their #playgroundchallenge! Visit playgrounds for a chance to win a trip to DC. http://bit.ly/K5GfQw”
Which I did. I also gave it a personal spin and off it went. Easy. Even though I believe 100% in their challenge, I may not have sent off this tweet if they hadn’t have made it so easy for me to do so. (In the end I also ended up being a beta tester for their Android app (it maps Playgrounds–is awesome and is available on the iPhone already) and next week will be posting an interview with them about their challenge on my It’s All Kid’s Play blog. Wow. They got a lot from a simple, well-done email, didn’t they?
So, how do we get favours granted?
Ask for a Favour? 14 Tips That Lead to a “Yes”:
- Be clear.
What do you want me to do? Is it to buy your book? Share your coupon? Like your page? Follow you?
- Be specific and to the point.
I don’t need the story of your life. Remember: You are taking up someone’s precious time.
- Why should I?
What’s in it for me? Why should I help? If you make your ask about the giver, they are more likely to help out. Think of it this way. I tell you to buy my book because it is a bestseller and everyone thinks it’s funny. Uh, great? But what if I told you that this book will change the way you think about your neighbourhood, the way kids play, and give you more time to spend playing with your kids. Hmmm. Suddenly that feels a little more personal and intriguing. There might be some personal value in this.