Relationship Marketing, by Charlie Cochrane

As part of my non-writing life, I attended a development day, where one of the speakers discussed “Relationship Marketing” and the increasing loyalty as someone moves from being a prospective customer to a brand advocate. I’ve recently blogged about how that concept relates to writing in certain eras (it made sense to me at the time) but now I’m looking at the more obvious connection to readership.

The first rung on the ladder is the likely future purchaser. I guess authors probably regard everybody as a likely purchaser, although reality tells us that not everyone likes our genre or our style or our title. All we can do is get our works in front of as many people as possible, especially those who are more likely to give our stories a try, maybe because they’ve bought similar things or maybe they hang out at blogs/groups where such books are discussed. I have to say I don’t like being unrelentlessly treated as a potential customer. I know there’s a viewpoint that says every interaction is a possible selling interaction, but when people friend me on social media just to sell to me, or friends send me e-mails directly asking me to buy their latest, I make a conscious decision not to!

The second step is when somebody buys one of your books for the first time. When I have my reader hat on, I find it really exciting to discover a new (new to me) author whose works I can plough my way through. Recent joyous finds have included Christopher Fowler and Len Tyler. With my author hat, I have to ensure that a reader’s first encounter with my story is so good that (like me and the aforementioned boys) they keep coming back for more. I wish I could go back and rewrite some of my early stuff in the catalogue...

I’ve gone to the third step – repeat purchaser, or sometimes repeat library borrower – for plenty of authors and clearly plenty of my readers have done the same for me. It’s comfort, I guess, that lovely sense of knowing you’ll be happy with whatever the author has written. Although, as a reader, I’ve occasionally find that I love one series by an author, yet find another of his or her series just so-so. Different setting, maybe, that just doesn’t work as well? That makes it hard for authors, because we don’t want to just be typecast to a certain era or genre. We have to run the risk of spreading our wings. Which leads us to...

The fourth step, which is someone who’ll try new products. So, in this setting, they might try one of my contemporaries if they’ve read my historicals, or vice versa. They might hate it, but at least they’re willing to take a punt. All an author can do is ensure the same quality of writing across all genres, eras, and styles. If the reader finds something hard edged instead of the humour they’re expecting, then at least they find well written hard edged stuff. And, clearly, making sure the blurb and excerpts accurately reflect the story as a whole is invaluable to a reader. Am I the only one to have been taken in by a blurb that bears no resemblance to the book?

At the top of the ladder there’s the brand champion, who tells everyone to buy your books. (Rather like I’ve been championing Messrs Fowler and Tyler!) I know from experience what a great effect it can have on sales when a well respected author says, “Buy this person’s books. She’s good!” But it’s more than sales which are affected positively. It does wonders for a girl’s ego to hear those sorts of things.

Biog and links: As Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

Charlie's Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name.
She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, BSB, MLR and Cheyenne.

You can reach Charlie at (maybe to sign up for her newsletter?) or catch her on Facebook, twitter, goodreads, her website or her blog.

Latest release

Awfully Glad:

WWI hero Sam Hines is used to wearing a face that isn’t his own. When he’s not in the trenches, he’s the most popular female impersonator on the front, but a mysterious note from an anonymous admirer leaves him worried. Everyone realizes—eventually—that Sam’s not a woman, but has somebody also worked out that he also prefers his lovers to be male?

When Sam meets—and falls for—fellow officer Johnny Browne after the war, he wonders whether he could be the man who wrote the note. If so, is he the answer to Sam’s dreams or just another predatory blackmailer, ready to profit from a love that dare not speak its name?


  1. Thanks for hosting me, Brenda. Always a pleasure to work with you.

  2. No, you aren't the only one to suffer the random-blurb-not-related-to-the-story effect! Very annoying.

    Interesting thoughts on building a relationship between writer and reader. I wonder if there is any correlation between that and building other relationships? As in: is a writer who can make friends easily better at marketing?

    1. Annoying isn't the word for it. Smack the book against the wall infuriating. :)

      What an interesting thought about marketing. I have no idea. Maybe at the sort of level most of us are at then you could well be right.

  3. I think people who love reading are only too happy to tell other readers when they discover an author they like. We all know how frustrating it used to be going through the shelves at the library or bookshop trying to find something to read! Online review sites have revolutionised my reading habits, as has my Kindle (being able to download a sample and read it straight away, while the review is fresh in my mind).

    But I still prefer a recommendation from someone who I know likes the same books that I do. And I love being able to tell someone who likes one author about others who are also good. One feels a little proprietorial about a book or an author one has discovered, and delighted when one's friends like them too.

    I also like to make people aware of British authors who write British books (like you). Of course, the main reason is because I think they're excellent. But it is also because I think it is important that books continue to have distinct national and even regional characteristics, and don't all become some homogenised mid-Atlantic product.

    Finally, there are the categories of romance (which has to be de-stigmatised) and m/m in particular. I feel that reading about people who happen to be gay, and seeing them portrayed as ordinary human beings with all sorts of other characteristics, helps to reduce prejudice and increase knowledge. Authors who write good m/m romances should therefore be supported, including by recommending their books wherever and whenever possible.

  4. ###One feels a little proprietorial about a book or an author one has discovered, and delighted when one's friends like them too###

    Yes. I couldn't agree more. That shared enthusiasm is wonderful.

    Your comment made me think, especially the end paragraph. I believe there's a market out there for gay romance that hasn't been tapped into. The people who read The Song of Achilles, the people who watched Torchwood for Jack/Ianto, those who loved Brokeback. It has to be about letting them know what's available?

  5. When I find an author I like, I buy all of the books by that person. I tell people. I'm a brand ambassador for several authors (Raven Hart, Helen Kirkman, Janet Elizabeth Jones - and more). Their talent is the same: they pull me into their created worlds and make me forget my own. I think a writer's first responsibility is to create and then people a believable world, whether it's the dark ages, contemporary America, the future, or an alternate now. Social media certainly helps as a way to interact with readers, but when I like an author, I'm not afraid to email. I like getting an answer. I once held a chat for Helen Kirkman, who lives in Australia. She came, talked with folks, and then sent me one of her books as a thank you. I got a package from Australia -- and I was so excited! It wasn't the gift itself so much as the fact that she thought about me. I kept the ribbon she wrapped around the book (it's a pretty gold one) and hung it on the wall, then clipped badges from conventions onto it. I see it every day. Reminds me of a relationship that while fleeting, is still important to me. And I buy every one of Helen's books the minute they come out.

    1. ###they pull me into their created worlds and make me forget my own.###

      Yes, that's it. Even when some of those worlds are odd (like Fowler's), they're wonderful.

      Is there a picture of that ribbon at your blog? It sounds wonderful.