Building the Trust Cred

Last Saturday at work was rough. I worked thirteen hours. Thankfully it was my last day of work for a week. Sunday was all about relaxing and spending time with my wife. Hence my two sentence ROW80 non-update.

We had a nice lunch, took care of some errands (I ordered prescription sunglasses from Wize Eyes so I can drive in style) and in general enjoyed the day. Last stop on the way home was PC Richards for a new air conditioner.

Not long after we walked in, a salesmen, named Tony, approached us. He was an older man with a slight limp who looked and sounded like George Carlin. We gave him the size of our living room, the floor we were on and budget and he quickly pointed out the best unit for the job. I asked him what the price was for the next level up. If it was a difference of twenty or thirty dollars for an extra 2000 BTUs, I’d rather get the bigger one. Tony could easily have sold me that, but instead explained why I SHOULDN’T get it. Apparently overestimating BTUs is just as bad as underestimating. Too many BTUs means the compressor is working too fast and not getting rid of the humidity properly. You’ll cool the room, but you’ll feel damp.

So, while Tony was processing our sale, my wife and I complimented his excellent salesmanship. This was more or less his response, “I’m not just thinking about this sale. I’m thinking about FUTURE sales. One day you might need a TV or some kind of appliance and hopefully you’ll remember me and that I gave you a good experience and come back.”

Trust. The linchpin of any sale. Why buy Sony instead of Panasonic? Why Toyota over Ford? Even if you’re buying a new product, somewhere along the line you put your trust in that product performing as expected. And trust doesn’t come easily.

I’ve heard through some sources I need to be building my trust cred for THREE YEARS before I release my debut. That means I’ve got just over two and half years to go. I don’t think I’ll wait that long, but it makes perfect sense to do trust prep before I release a book. Why spend money on something unless you believe it’ll perform? Here’s how some Twitter messages read from new followers, “Hi I’m new. I’ve just released my book and it’s available here.” Besides not having anything I’d remember in that message, what reason do I have to buy their product other than its availability?

My trust cred is under construction. It has to be built one person at a time. A slow process for sure, but once I’m ready to sell something I hope it’ll pay off and people will want to give me a shot.

How important is consumer trust to you in building your platform? How important is it if you’re the consumer? And if you’re already selling how large a factor has trust played in your success?

Info stuff- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and be here Tuesdays and Thursdays for new posts on me, writing, superheroes, monsters, comics and any other geeky stuff on my mind.

26 comments on “Building the Trust Cred

  1. Wonderful post, and a really really great point all around!

    Interesting that someone has said to build up trust before releasing your debut. I’m imagining at least three years minimum personally before I gain some trust cred myself, but my debut book and any other work I put out will be part of the trust I’m going to build with future readers and other writers.

  2. What a great post.
    You’ve got cred with me. Anyone who can type even two sentences after a thirteen hour shift has to secretly be superhuman.
    Now I really want to see a pic of you w/ those sunglasses. It could be part of your branding. “Andrew Mocete: So Cool He doesn’t Need the Big Air Conditioner. His Book Will Blow You Away.”
    Ok, now I’m just beyond silly. Or below it even. Sorry, I’ve had work stacked up on me. Funny how it does that when you turn your back on your computer for even one tiny day.

  3. I think you should go with Vicki’s branding idea. It got my attention!

    Seriously, fantastic post. I cringe at the “Hi, nice to meet you, you can find my book XYZ, here, here and here.” I don’t ever want to be that person. I might have gone a bit too far the other way, but at least people know they are getting a human being rather than an auto-response.

    Trust is so important and I have to admit, that’s why I started putting short stories on my blog, and why I then started a weekly serial. With electrical appliances you have to put your money down before you find out what the beast is really made of. At least with writing you can give a free taster of your style without anyone having to invest money in you first. I’m going on the assumption that people are more inclined to trust you if they have proof you are trustworthy. After all, you needed the air-conditioner. No matter how much I may like to believe otherwise, no one actually needs my books. *sigh*

  4. Andrew, you’ve got this way of building trust when writing your blog posts. There is just something that comes through that makes us not only want to read your book as soon as it comes out, but also makes us trust you personally. People have said that you can’t really get to know people on the internet, but I’m not sure that’s true. Sometimes things just come through people’s writing that makes you know them. Does that make any sense? One of my favorite things about this whole indie thing is the people I’ve “met”.

    Okay, did that come off as rambling? I’ve had a rough few days, so my brain isn’t working that well.

    • Rough days is an understatement. But yeah, I know what you mean. I think you can get to know someone as much as they’re willing to give. Some blogs are more personal than others and some bloggers are more interactive.

  5. @Nina- Yeah, those are all great ways to build trust. I’ve thought about posting fiction, but my plate feels full with blogging, social media and my WIP. That’s why I really try let my personality shine through in these posts. I also know the next level of trust will be releasing a book people enjoy.

    @Vicki- Haha, I get so wrapped up in posting Wed and Sun, that if I don’t post SOMETHING, I think I’m shirking my responsibility. Then it was so lame an update, I didn’t put it in the linky. And great tagline! Maybe I’ll change my bio pic to include my new shades. Hmmm.

    @Anne-Mhairi- True about buying the appliance first, but some research and an honest salesman can help with the decision. And, though annoying, there usually is return if not satisfied policy.

    You’re on the right track with your trust cred. An online story is a great idea, especially since it’s interactive. Key word “interact”. I participated in a Joss Whedon chat last night and it was so fun. Will any of them want to read a book by me? No idea, (wasn’t the reason I did the chat) but by just having fun, I’ve made some friends who might think of me when the time comes. If that’s the sort of thing they read.

  6. Andrew, I believe we all have different paths to take, and your blogging and tweeting is your most powerful tool. It was late so I also forgot to add in how much I trust you from what I’ve seen. Your personality does shine through, and it is amazing. πŸ™‚

  7. There are so many wonderful ideas and sentiments already posted, all I can do is second them. Showing us a bit of your personality and your enthusiasm for writing all add build your cred. It seems like what you’re doing lately is trying to figure out your specific niche — what topics to build up your blog with, what specific things you can do to make yourself stand out, etc. The great news is, since you’re still seeing yourself as fairly new to all this, you can try all kinds of new things on this blog. My advice? Try EVERYTHING while you can. Post on everything! Thoughts, processes, topics you’re avoiding, thoughts on what’s happening in self-publishing. (The “book cover” post seemed pretty popular — maybe you could continue to a series on that from time to time.) Also, show us your short stories. Do you participate in anyone’s flashfic from time to time? Let’s see it. You’re a writer, yet the only thing we haven’t seen lately is a teaser as to what might come later. Whet our whistles.

    I mean, I’m sure you’ve got a crit partner somewhere who hasn’t heard from you in WEEKS and would be more than happy to crit something before you post it on the blog. Just sayin’. LOL

    • I feel like I’m in between trying everything and nailing down a method. Some weeks I have more things to say, but hold back because I don’t want to go off my posting schedule. I’d like it to become so ingrained that people just know when and what topic I’m posting about.

      Weekly fiction is something I couldn’t keep up with, but perhaps I could create a menu up top for that stuff. That COULD make it okay in my head to post writing whenever I want. It’s certainly a skill I’d like to get better at. A 2k story with a beginning, middle and end isn’t easy. You could end up with a scene that reads more like an opening chapter, rather than a complete story.

      Then there’s the idea to do a serial, but that goes back to having a schedule. Who wants to wait weeks or months for installments? Plus I’d rather do complete stories. Easier for new people to jump into and if you never come back, at least the story’s done.

      Ugh! Now you’ve given me things to think about. πŸ˜‰

      • Ya big goober. This is a blog. You don’t have a posting schedule. Yeah, I know a lot of people say to have one, but what’s more important is having good content. It’s true that you want to post regularly (I wouldn’t go more than a week, personally) but content is *key*.

        As for the regular schedule of posts and the “running topic” to fall back on… It’s allure is strong, no? Running topics will periodically come to you but your schedule will ebb and flow. A blogging schedule is great, but when you’re semi-stressed about picking brilliant topics…

        Relax. Post when you feel like it. Everyone on the planet also has a blog and a life, and understands you’ll zap us with your brilliance when you’re ready. Blogs are relational and those who come here to see you just like you. They forgive you if you just couldn’t eek out two or three posts that week. Twitter updates supplement those stretches of quiet on your blog. Concentrate on content you care about, and people will forgive the once-per-week blog. It will get easier.

        And I didn’t say anything about a 2k story. I said flashfic! You know, 150 or 500 words. Maybe a 250 snippet from your current work to get us excited. Lots of other writers on Twitter post flashfic contests with topics provided. This blog is like a savings bank. If you put in one short story a month, that’s 12 in your writing samples page by this time next year.

        No one has to be the ultimate author overnight. Thank God.

        • 100% agree about content. I don’t post anything unless I’m happy with it. Never want to waste someone’s time. I do have to disagree on having a schedule.

          I look at this blog like a publication or TV show. I like knowing that at 10pm on Mondays I can watch Castle or on Fridays Entertainment Weekly will be on the newsstand. It might sound like I’m taking my blogging way too seriously, but I can’t help it. I’m so thankful for my readers, I feel a responsibility to have a schedule and stick to it.

          I also appreciate a schedule in the blogs I read because it’s easier for me to remember to check them. People I like (such as you) are at the top of my memory when I go through my RSS feed, but I may not check it everyday. And if there’s not some sort of schedule, (Like yours where you post weekly) I forget to check. Then I figure, if that happens to me, it must happen to others and I say, “YOU MUST HAVE A SCHEDULE, ANDREW!”

          Wow, my comment is turning into a post all it’s own. I think I’ll write about this for next week.

          I appreciate you taking the time to give me your point of view. It really gets me thinking. Like the flashfic. I should work on it. Probably a good idea to work on something other than my WIP.

  8. Absolutely trust is essential. I get SO ANNOYED by those DMs and Tweets that are nothing but promo. “Hey, buy my book here” “Follow me here” Um, no. I don’t know you from Adam’s housecat and thanks to your unprofessional behavior, I won’t be GETTING to know you. Unfollow. Way too many newbs wind up following traditional marketing methods, which don’t work at all for authors.

    I’ve always loved blogging. I’ve been working at one or another for years (often multiple at once). This one’s about 3 years old, and I guess I’d been out, actively building it for about 2 years when I released my first book. Absolutely the relationships I’d built through my blog, through Twitter helped launch me. I was plugged in to the writing community, to folks who would buy my book for support (even if they might not have read it in some cases) and would tell others about it too. I think that personal connection, the establishment of rapport, a relationship with people is what often got them to try me in the early days.

    Then it was about building trust with the story. I have earned the reputation for an action packed read, so my job is to deliver that, consistently, in a quality manner, with each new book. I think much later down the line it’s THAT trust that gets people buying. Either because they’ve read me before and know to look for that or because they read reviews of others who’ve said so, and they decide to trust in those reviews. And on down the line it will be trust in the brand. Kait Nolan means action (at least this is what I’m going for) in the same way Stephen King means horror.

    Anyway, I think you’re doing a great job building a readership by being entertaining and real. And it helps that you’re totally adorable. πŸ˜€

  9. Trust Cred is extremely important to me – I don’t just buy a book because someone follows me on twitter; I don’t just subscribe to a blog because someone follows me on twitter. I look for someone who is engaging, creative, fun, helpful…someone like Andrew!

  10. @Kait- Why am not surprised you’ve always written multiple blogs? Is there anything you don’t multitask?

    Thanks for sharing your journey to where you are now. You’ve illustrated perfectly the different levels of trust and that you’re still building it three years later. Getting published isn’t the end of the trust building.

    I think I’ll combine yours and Vicki’s tag for me. “Totally adorable. His book will blow you away!”

    @Tiffany- Hey,I think I’m all those things! And my name’s Andrew! Guess I’m on the right track.

    • I think there are 10 in my WordPress dashboard…just in case. One for my real name (unused), one for my other alternate pen name (unused), one for a group project that may or may not ever get off the ground (unused), one for character exploration (rarely used), ROW80, Pots and Plots, my main blog, my old cooking blog that still directs peeps to pots and plots, How To Murder Your Boss, which I might come back to some day…oh and I’m on my hubby’s photoblog… And that doesn’t count the livejournal accounts or the others I’ve closed over the years. Seriously. Susan periodically thinks I need an intervention about my blog addiction.

  11. To be honest, I did it the other way around, but I’m not sorry. I’m currently working to build up the trust and cred, and it’s a hard slog, but honestly I’m okay with that. I felt it was more important to make my book available to other mourners ASAP, and the feedback I’ve gotten from the people who have read the book tells me that it has helped people deal with their own grief, which was all I ever wanted to do in the first place.

    So, it’s quite possible I made things harder for myself to get my message out to a broader audience, and I think in that regard I agree with your observations. But sometimes, pushing forward into the void is be necessary, depending on the message.

    Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful post!

    • KimBoo, thanks for your comment.

      I actually think you made the right move getting your book out their for a few reasons. First off, you wrote a non-fiction book. You’ve got a built-in audience looking for information on that topic. And you also weren’t trying to make buckets of money. You just wanted to help others, which is a wonderful thing.

      I also don’t think you’ve made things harder for yourself. Reader trust builds slowly whether your book is out or not. But some authors think they can release a title with the buy info and it will sell. That is not the way it works.Their are more books available than a person can read in their lifetime and one way to narrow down the list is trust in the author.

  12. Andrew, this is such a great post. Thank you for this. You have such wisdom for one so young, Grasshopper.

    My husband is in sales, and I have been to some extent as I’ve sold myself as a freelance commercial writer. But I forget–it took several months to build that clientele before–why do I think building an audience will be any easier? It’s going to be WAAAYYY harder!

    I forget sometimes that I *haven’t* been building trust for a long time. I burst onto the scene with two things ready for publication because I didn’t know what to do with them and kept quiet for a long time. Then I suddenly show up and start blogging and tweeting–well, yeah, it’s going to take some time for people to trust me enough to sample and buy my work. I did have some trust built through Facebook, I hope, because I’d been there a while and posted often (um, perhaps TOO often) about my projects.

    But yeah… It’s going to take time. I didn’t start blogging seriously until October or so, and then published Silver Thaw in December and Ravenmarked in January. It’ll take a while for people to find me. Really, it’s sort of amazing anyone has… πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the terrific post.

    • Yeah, fiction is so much harder to sell. Especially epic fantasy. You’re creating a whole new world. My book takes place in present day NYC, which is easier on my brain. But you write fast, so you’ll build backlist and reader trust in that way.

      In terms of your blog, you might want to try giving out recs every week. It’s a nice way to do shout outs, (because they’ll be on your blog forever) which the blogger will appreciate and your readers will like getting cool stuff to check out. It doesn’t have to be just writing stuff either. It could be cool fantasy articles. I’ve just started doing that and my readers are liking it. Plus it’s an easy way to get a discussion going.

      • I love the idea of recommendations, and I tried doing it a couple of times, but I fall behind on my blog reading so much that I didn’t want to promise something I couldn’t always deliver. But yes, that is a great idea. And I do want to try to get away from being so writer-oriented, too. The Fantasy Faction articles are my place for giving writing advice now.

  13. Really enjoyed this post – trust is so very important and it can take a lifetime to build and a minute to demolish. Coming from a marketing background, I learnt all about the importance of building trust with customers – we need them to come back right? I love your salesman’s approach – he’s thinking of future sales. Very cool. On another note, I wish we Brits had the same level of customer service that Americans have!

    In terms of building credibility, I think it’s just a matter of consistency…and it’s best to aim to be consistently good at what we do, putting in effort 100% of the time.

    • Don’t feel too bad, customer service isn’t always that good around here. Tony takes a lot of pride in his work, which I sometimes think is a dying art.

      Totally agree about consistency. That’s why I try to stay on a posting schedule. I think it’s helped tremendously in getting readers (like you) to find me.

      Thanks for your comment!

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