During a recent marketing session on accruing book reviews, I encouraged authors to build business relationships with booksellers, reviewers, and media. In response, attendees asked one key question: How can a relatively unknown author compete with major marketing firms, big publishing houses, and PR companies, all of which have deep pockets and established connections with media and booksellers?

One way to achieve success in the face of this seemingly overwhelming competition is by using an old-school method that has recently lost favor, especially among younger authors. While it’s true that in today’s world, book marketing happens largely via email and online contact forms, this alternative approach can still see success: making connections with editors and reviewers via phone calls, or even in-person visits. Authors might make these connections with smaller, local media outlets rather than with a major publication like the Washington Post or the New York Times—but at the same time, the editor of a smaller publication may be more likely to write a review. Authors who do their research to learn what genres a reviewer is interested in and the titles he or she is currently reviewing are more likely to receive a coveted “Yes!” to their requests.

I also challenge authors to invite local or even national celebrities, corporate leaders, and other influencers outside the book world to write and post reviews for their book on Amazon and other major retailers’ websites. Such reviews can be persuasive—sometimes more so than reviews from lesser-known reviewers in the publishing industry. Authors can establish connections with these reviewers in the same way one builds any relationship: saying hello, making conversation, and being friendly and excited about their ideas, fields, and books.

Authors have to be bold and courageous in these efforts. They also have to wear their armor when they do this—because for every success, some rejection is inevitable. Busy and overwhelmed bookstore owners will turn you away; an executive’s secretary may refuse to connect you to the CEO; an editor may be rude—but on occasion, you might be fortunate enough to reach the right person at the right time.

Ultimately, depending solely on social media or emails to spread the word about your book may not be enough. To give your book the best chance, you have to take risks and challenge yourself to reach out to people you never imagined contacting. Stand strong, and be endlessly persistent—and you might just be surprised!

written by Robert Pruett, publisher