What is social proof?
Authors who self-publish are running a business, and like any business these days an online presence is vital. If you don’t have a website that can be found with a quick search, you don’t exist in the public eye. Your website is proof that you are running a business, or in the author’s case, have written a book. But to encourage a customer to buy your product or engage your services you need something called ‘social proof’. Social proof is what tells customers that you and your product can be trusted. We can tell people about our books, or about our editing services, but it’s what people who’ve read our book or used our editing services say about them that provides social proof that the book or the services are worth purchasing. Reviews are social proof for authors, and recommendations provide social proof for me as an editor.
Social proof is everywhere
Even Facebook pages have a way to rate them now; someone can visit your page and give you a 5 star review or a 1 star review or anything in between. When you visit a restaurant, Google is likely to contact you and ask you to leave a review, so when people search for restaurants in that area, they’ll find social proof to help them make a choice. Every product page anywhere on the web has a place for reviews. That’s because social proof is such a huge factor in whether or not someone will buy a product or service.
Why is social proof important?
When other people talk about us or our books, they speak from their own experience and perspective, and from reading what different people say, the potential customer gets an idea about the product or service that they don’t get from reading a description. It’s the online version of word of mouth, and word of mouth is still what sells things over and above anything else, as the following recommendation indicates:
“I sent the manuscript of my first book to Tahlia. I received a prompt reply with an appraisal and the manuscript with salient points indicated as comments. Everything that Tahlia said was valid, and helped me enormously. An awesome service and I feel so fortunate that Tahlia was personally recommended to me. ” Lyn Behan
The vital thing for anyone selling anything online is trust. The customer must trust you and your product, and one of the ways to get that trust is to provide social proof in the form of reviews or recommendations.
So when you set up a page on your website for your book, make sure that you have some social proof there.
You have to ask
Reviews don’t automatically appear; authors have to ask people to write reviews, and having reviews on your Amazon page is vital because without social proof, people are not inclined to buy. It’s the same for me as an editor. Potential clients need to hear what my clients have to say about me, but I have to remember to ask my clients for the social proof I need to show on my website.
I tend to forget, but as part of my website revamp I recently contacted a few of my editing clients and asked them to leave recommendations on my Linkedin profile. I was delighted with what I received.
My latest editing recomendations
“Tahlia Newland did a superb job editing my first two novels, which are part of a historical fantasy series. She knows how to help an author improve the writing at the moment-by-moment level, to make the reader’s experience more engaging and powerful. But her skills go beyond line- and paragraph-level editing. She’s also expert at the concept level, at helping the author tell a better story.” A. Roy King.
I love the following one from Guy Brooks. The thought of me haunting him as he writes is quite funny – at least I hope it is, it could also be terrifiying.
“Tahlia is a well-thought-out editor. Nothing seems to escape her critical eye, and I assure you, you want her kind of eye gleaning your work. During the editing process Tahlia was a friend with friendly advice. Then just a quickly she was my teacher teaching me lessons of English and the art of creative writing. She never held back and she expected better – demanded it! She made me “kill my babies” so my story would shine better. Because of her I promise I will never “Head-Hop”, “Tell” my story nor “Tag” an obvious conversation ever again – Never! She has ruined my writing habits and I will always be haunted with her bar of excellence. Thank you Tahlia.” Guy Brooks.
The first true story I worked on was the story of an Australian Latvian man and his father, who immigrated to Australia after WWII. I ended up publishing this one as well as editing it because I thought it an excellent story, and the author is a born writer.
“I submitted the first draft of my first book to Tahlia with some anxiety. The feedback I received was honest, respectful and empowering. I felt supported by a caring, highly skilled professional. Tahlia has taught me how to enrich my writing and has given me confidence to continue with a second book – a valuable and satisfying investment.” David Kerr, author of Out of Latvia.
The story I worked on with Kirk was about his travels on the hippie trails back in 1977. I really enjoyed having the chance to step back in time and walk that path along side him. I hope I get to work on more memoirs in the future. I really do think that we all have a story to tell.
“Being a first time author with no experience, I submitted my mess of a story to Tahlia. She was honest and responded that I was no where close to a book and what I had was only an outline. She told me to go back to work, one chapter at a time and fill in the details to finish the story. It was a long process, but ultimately a success that would never have happened without her recommendations and final editing. I am extremely happy with her work and recommend her 100%.” Kirk Sowers, author of Love & Death on the Hippie trail.
Another recommendation that came in actually talked about my three strands of publishing activity, me as an editor, me as an author, and me as a publisher.
“Tahlia helped me with a pre-publish rewrite of my novel ‘Spiderworld’. The result took some batting back and forth until we could both agree that my novel had found a balance. Tahlia was firm against my resistance to change, a vital quality for an editor. This was paralleled with a deep respect for my vision. We all love our babies as they are, but sometimes the darlings do need surgery. In the end, we found a compromise that made for a far better book than the one I first presented. The plot, the idea, my personal painting was unchanged, but the stories final balance is so much an improvement.
“Tahlia has written many brilliant books, which have never received anything like the size of audience they deserve. That is a condition of modern writing, the new democracy in publishing. We have the power to write without the resources to market. However, I can assure you that Tahlia’s books are much sought after amongst those fortunate enough to have found their way to her home amongst the growing community of outstanding independent writers.
“Tahlia has been a genuine pioneer of an open press, of the drive towards quality publishing outside of the publishing temples, those traditional near-closed, often incesterous, bastions. She has a great grasp of the nuts and bolts as well as the art, the ‘spirituality’ of writing wonderful prose. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. So if in doubt about her ability, then feast on both her original works and the books of others she has so much improved.”
Life as an author or anyone in the modern publishing world can be tough. There’s a lot of competition in all areas, so when people say nice things about your book or indicate that they value your professional opinion and expertise, it’s certainly a great boost to the spirit. So I thank the above authors for taking the time to write their recommendations.
Does it work?
If you were looking for an editor, would the recommendations above help you to choose me? I hope so. It’s certainly better than having no social proof at all.
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