First off, let’s talk about what IS a genre SME (subject matter expert). Being a genre SME means you are a person of “authority” within a genre. This idea of “authority” is not new to the internet. Google and Bing both place HUGE importance on authority. In fact, they both have mentioned that eventually, the author of the content will matter more than the content itself. That being said, to become relevant with the interwebs, you must establish yourself as an authority, or a SME.
Why does being a SME help you sell books and market yourself? Great question! Here is an example. If you have a friend who has been a plumber for years and you have heard stories about he or she has tackled difficult issues, saved home owners money and got excited about new advances in plumbing technologies, wouldn’t you trust that person? Wouldn’t you go to that person for advice? Yes you would.
The same goes for us as authors. The more that we talk about, help out and create information that is within our genre, the more people (and search engines) will trust our work. The reason why I bring up search engines is that search, whether it be on our desktop, tablet or phone is the #1 way people find information about us and our writing genre. Our content needs to come up when someone searches for our genre, tall order, but it is a goal we need to work towards.
1. Understand YOUR content the best. You MUST know everything about your work. The back stories, the research, the references, everything. You must know your work first.
2. You understand your genre. You must understand the history and the future of the genre.
3. Know the readers. Find and join all genre related reader and fan sites, groups, Facebook pages, sign up for newsletters, etc. You are a fan of the genre, there is no shame in letting others know you are a fan of the genre too. It helps get your name out there as well as keeping your finger on the pulse of the fans. Ask them what their favorite books are and why. Ask them what their top 5 authors in your genre are, and why.
4. Know, align and befriend the current SME’s in your genre. Most likely there are already SME in your genre. Find them, align with them. If these other authors are part of a group, or list, get on that list! If they speak at certain conferences, go to those conferences… if possible, SPEAK at those conferences.
I think of the ThrillerFest Conference. If you are an author writing within the thriller genre, wouldn’t it be smart to be not only GOING to this conference to meet other thriller authors, but also, looking for ways to SPEAK at ThrillerFest?
5. Get out there and be seen. A New York Times best selling author told me once when I asked him how does he pick and choose what events he goes to, what book clubs he attends, he said “If I can do it, I do it.” Small book clubs, private genre parties, conferences, author podcasts, he does everything he can to get the word out… and it works. If you can’t find a genre based bookclub, START ONE!
Becoming a SME in your genre is easier than you think. Getting everyone else to know that is the hard part. It starts with you and your content. Start blogging, start posting, start creating content. Publish this content from your own website and start sharing it on social networks. Learn your genre and its history…. Just Google “The history of thriller genre” or “The history of romance novels” the information is out there waiting to be consumed. After doing your research, create a blog post about what you found and about where you fit into that history… share it with the people.
Soon, authors, readers and search engines will take notice, then you are off to the races.