As is the struggle for every author, you must find your audience. Last week we discussed “The Right Followers,” and this week we’re going to talk about how to find the right readers.
Although it’s never easy to find your readers, they’re out there. And with the internet and social networks, it’s easier than ever to find them without spending thousands on promotion and touring.
The best way to grow a readership is to start with a tight niche. Sometimes this niche is not clearly definable. For example, our Rowan of the Wood series is YA fantasy. Most certainly a niche, but not a very tight one. On the other hand Avalon Revisited by O. M. Grey (nom de plume) is a Steampunk Paranormal Romance. Okay. Paranormal Romance, not a very tight niche. Steampunk is still quite tight. I don’t doubt that Avalon Revisited consistently sells 10 to 1 more Kindle copies than Rowan of the Wood because of this tight niche. Additionally, although ParaRomance isn’t terribly tight, those readers are voracious.
Still, if you can define any niche (even if it’s just your genre), then you have a place to start. Now here is how to reach your readers (and test your market as well).
1. Blog Tour. This is a very cheap way to tour the country, and even the world, all right from the comfort of your own home. The following excerpt is taken from my bestselling book Publishing & Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author.
A blog tour is when an author visits a different blog every day for a specific length of time. This can be a few days or a few week, all depending on how much time and work (and how much exposure) you want to put into it.
Start by finding at least a dozen blogs that fit with your topic. If you write YA or fantasy, please visit our blog tour archives [left sidebar] to get links to some blogs. If you write fantasy or paranormal romance, definitely try to get on BittenByBooks for your online release party. They are amazing and have a huge following. Each of those blogs (or those from your own list) have blogrolls, a list of links they like or frequent. Often these links are of similar blogs. Just take a day or two and explore, making a list of the top fifty or sixty blogs that fit your book. Start querying the top ones; i.e., the ones with the most activity…
There are several things you can do on a blog tour.
• Write a guest post.
• Do an interview.
• Have them write a book review.
• Post a vlog. Post a podcast.
• Hold a contest.
• Giveaway eBook and/or paperback copies of your book.
Use your imagination, and most importantly, have fun!
The excerpt is taken from my bestselling book Publishing & Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author.
2. Give Your Book Away. This is an excellent way to find out if you have the right followers on Twitter/FB and have reached your reader niche. Because if people aren’t taking something for free, they’re just not interested. This doesn’t mean *no one* is interested, just the people you’re reaching aren’t interested.
There are billions of people in the world. Millions of potential readers. Giving away a few or even a few hundred (thousand!) copies of your book will not hurt sales. It will only help sales via word of mouth. Seriously.
3. Events. Events, like bookstore signings, genre conventions, and other art/book/literary festivals, can also be a great way to get your book in front of reader, but they can be potentially expensive. Still, it’s an investment. I’ve seen an amazing upswing in O. M. Grey’s popularity online (and in book sales) since she started doing more fantasy conventions, especially when focusing in on the Steampunk niche. She’s building a network online, building a bond with readers through her intimate blog posts, and then connecting with them in person at conventions. Relationships are built. That combination is gold for both the author and the reader.
Reviews are a wonderful way to raise visibility of your book. There are countless number of review blogs on the web, and you should make a list of the top blogs that discuss and review books like yours. Query the top ten first. Ideally, you want a blog that contains a lot of regular activity. Look at the comments. If they consistently have discussions beneath their posts, they likely have a nice following. But even those blogs that don’t have much discussion can certainly raise your book’s visibility on the web.
Most blogs will have an “about” page or “contact” page. When possible, address the contact by name when emailing your query. For organizational purposes, put your book title and the name of the blog in the subject line. This will help you and the recipient find the conversation in their inbox. Additionally, send a query to the Midwest Book Review. They are one of the premiere review sites for independent books…
Never pay for a review. This goes back to never paying someone to publish your book (unless you consciously choose to go the POD/vanity publishing route after weighing all your options) and never paying an agent a reading fee. Unfortunately, two of the most prestigious review journals are now preying on indie authors. Kirkus and Publishers Weekly each have a program that, for a fee, will review your book for their publication. Don’t do it. Cortnee Howard wrote an excellent article about this on The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog.
5. Social Networking. For today’s author, this is an absolute must. The single best, most efficient way to connect with readers across the globe. If you want to be seen, you must have three things: A blog (where you blog at least once a week, preferably 3x), Twitter, and Facebook. These three things work together and support each other, cross-posting and promotion, to reach the maximum amount of fans. Next Friday I will write about the four-fold approach to Twitter, which is explained in by book.
I wish I could give an extensive run down on just how to do that in this post, but it would be too long! You can get my book from Amazon or signed from me. OR, if you don’t want to pay for it, you can steal the PDF here.
What are some marketing techniques that have worked for you?
12 Comments Add yours
All good tips. I am currently hunting down new places for reviews and it seems to be getting harder and harder as the e-book revolution continues to spread.
Not surprising, as people are overloaded with content. That’s why building relationships & connecting with readers is so important! More important now than ever.
For #1 (and others to a lesser degree), you can kick-start things by analyzing a few similar authors’ sites and determining where they’ve been reviewed. Query those blogs.
Build yourself a simple database (I use a database page within a Google Sites wiki, but an Excel spreadsheet will work) to track who you queried, what the current status is, and notes about the results. With each release, you’ll learn who loved your stuff, who was lukewarm, who promised coverage and didn’t deliver, and who went out of their way to help or bad-mouth you. Refine your list (adding in new venues as you discover them) and use it to drive the push for your next book.
These notes are critical, because your biggest supporters will come from unexpected places, and venues you thought would be a no-brainer often turn out not to be. Keep notes about what REALLY happened with each venue, and cultivate the good relationships going forward (while pruning the bad ones).
I like to collect key quotes and put them on the book’s official webpage, like this:
A couple months after a book launch, I also like to do a little ‘tearsheet’ document which rounds up these quotes. This makes a nice add-in to your press kit for your next book (here’s what people said about the last release; here’s info about the new one).
Great tips, Scott. Well done!
Another excellent entry with great advice. thanks for all you do!
Thank you, Jeremy. 🙂 This comment just brightened my day. xo
Excellent post Christine!!!
Great post! Thanks for sharing your wealth!
Thank you for reading!
Hi Christine, there are some great tips here! Thanks for sharing them.
Great advice is always welcome. Thank you. Familiar Blevins Zombie U.