If you’ve ever been to a book signing or multiauthor event, you’ve likely heard the term “Author Hit List.” If you’re a reader, these lists are vital so you don’t miss a favorite author or forget to visit their table. If you’re an author, these lists keep you focused and on track in meeting authors you admire. They also help you get face time with authors whose brains you want to pick.
But hit lists can also cause unforeseen harm for an author, depending on how the author uses them and what her intentions are.
When an Author-Created Hit List Works
Like readers, authors have their favorite authors and want to get books signed, too. Other authors can be our heroes, and it’s exciting to get to meet them. Hey, we read, too. We fan-girl, too. And we don’t want to miss out on getting a favorite book signed.
Hit lists can also be good for when you want to talk to another author about how they market and promote their books. Maybe an author came out of nowhere and hit the NYT Bestseller list with their first book, and you want to pick their brain on what they consider the secret to their success. Gaining advice and suggestions is a great reason to build a hit list for author events.
When an Author-Created Hit List Can Go Horribly Wrong
Okay, so I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the term “hit list.” Maybe it’s because it sounds like something an assassin uses to target his victims. Or maybe it’s because I have had a bad experience as a hittee on such a hit list.
Over two years ago, at an author signing, I was approached by a fellow author who was so excited to meet me and talk to me and get my suggestions on marketing and promotion. She was complimentary and seemed genuinely happy to get the chance to chat with me. Flattered that she wanted to talk to little ol’ me, I was thrilled and told her I’d be happy to share with her anything she wanted to know. We parted with the understanding that we would chat later.
And waited some more.
I never heard from her again. Furthermore, when I made attempts to talk to her again, she went out of her way to ignore and avoid me.
Without outing who this author is or going into details, I’ll just say that I was able to surmise that she decided I wasn’t a “big enough” author for her to spend her time on. I think she thought I was NYT Bestseller or something, but I’m not. At any rate, I bumped into her again in September at the Romance Author Mastermind (RAM) event in Houston. I tried to strike up a conversation with her, but she practically ran away from me. Seriously, she hardly stopped to say hi then bolted as I was still talking.
My point is, I was on her hit list. She made it clear I was on her hit list by how she first approached me. Then I became a nonentity in her world.
And I have never forgotten it. I never will.
And I’m not the only author who noticed what she was doing.
The Big Problem with Hit Lists
I think the big problem that this author made with her hit list is that she has put so much of her focus on hitting the authors on her list that she has forgotten that they are human. She approached me, flattered me, made me feel special and important. Then acted like I no longer existed. I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t feel at least a little bit hurt by this. That shit stings.
A hit list can also prevent you from seeing the awesome author standing right beside you.
At RAM, I happened to be sitting right next to Lauren Blakely. A few seats down was Kennedy Ryan. Like, OMG! If I had been focused on hitting all the authors on my hit list (btw, I didn’t have a hit list for that event – because I considered every author there “hittable,” even if they’d never made a list), I would have totally missed this opportunity to get to chat with these two AMAAAAAZZZING authors.
In other words, sometimes the best person to “hit” is the one right next to you.
The other thing to remember is that the author you’ve never heard of could be the best person for you to meet. That author could be the next Skye Warren, C.D. Reiss, Lauren Blakely, or Penelope Ward. And you had a chance to get to know them and network/cross-promote with them while they were rising. But you missed it, because you were too focused on finding the next bestseller and checking them off your list.
Who SHOULD be on Your Hit List
Instead of going after all the big names that everyone else is going after, talk to the authors you’ve never heard of before. I know an author who has never hit a bestseller list, but she made over $250,000 last year. If you’re making less than $50,000/year it might be hugely beneficial for you to get to know this author. You could learn what she’s doing that could take your writing income to the next level. But if your sole focus is on chatting up the bestsellers, you’re going to miss her.
And no, my friend isn’t a bestseller… YET. And I’m not a bestseller… YET. But we both will be. It’s out there, and we have a plan to make it happen. But if you’ve passed us by because we’re “nobody,” you’ll miss out on all those cross-promotional opportunities you could have had with us. And remember, the bestsellers today were at one time where you are now. They weren’t always bestsellers. They were once $20,000/year authors, too. Now they’re seven-figure-per-year authors.
Those authors already have their circle of fellow authors they work with. Who will be in your circle? Probably not them.
So while it’s nice to have a hit list, keep things in perspective. Is your hit list and your attitude toward it doing you more harm than good? If you’re only putting bestsellers on your list and shunning authors who aren’t, it’s probably the former.