The excitement we feel when writing a novel can be uplifting and motivating. As writers we get lost in fantasy worlds, emotionally attached to our characters, and dream a little harder with each word we write. This can create a conflict of interest when it's time to actually publish. While we believe in our stories and their potential, we sometimes forget that everyone else in the universe won't think the same way...or even give our novels the time of day. This can shatter the illusion we've built of ourselves and our work, leading to discouragement and self-doubt when we don't gain an audience off of the quality of our books alone.
The truth is, we all suffer from this. We all struggle to build our author audiences and we all at some point or another have doubted our ability to succeed. Today I'm giving you the tools you need to build an audience for your novel.
Building Your Ideal Audience...
Requires a different mindset. Writing a novel is completely different than marketing one. While one is a solitary sport, marketing requires you to interact with the big wide world and with other people. For many writers, especially if you're an introvert, this can be a task you're dreading. With a lack of know-how it can seem like an immense mountain to climb.
Truthfully, you cannot expect to do well as an author if you can't get anyone to buy your book. The point of writing may be to create, but the point of publishing is to generate income. Thus it is not enough to just write anymore. You must learn how to think like a marketing specialist too.
Think Like A Marketing Specialist
If you visibly cringed when you read that, you're not alone! Nine months ago, when I first decided to start my writing blog, I was dreading the process of promoting myself and working on social media too. I had no idea what I was doing and the introvert in me was scared to put myself out there. I thought that I would fail and that no one would ever want to read what I wrote.
That's simply not true! The more I put myself out there and tried, the more results I saw in return. It's led to things like new friends, helpful feedback, more confidence, and most importantly, an audience waiting for my book to be published!
Here is what I've learned so far:
1. Look At Your Analytics Demographics
Most social media sites and online websites have some sort of analytics tools. You may have to sign up for a business account to see them, but it's worth it. Analytics are designed to tell you who is looking at your content, where they're coming from, and in advanced cases, they can even tell you cool details about your customers gender, age range, and even where in the world they're located. By understanding the demographics of who your readers are, the better you'll understand who will potentially read your book once you're published. This becomes important once you actively start trying to promote your work, as you'll be able to tailor your marketing specifically to reach these buyers.
2. Introduce Your Novel With A Strong Synopsis/Description
Think about what your novel entails. What themes are there? What type of plot events occur? What exciting things develop? Time period? All of these questions can lead to answers that will help you write a strong synopsis. Keep in mind that this is the paragraph that will entice your readers to buy your book. It's the first impression of the potential sale. Make sure it's clear and accurately reflects your story. The other benefit of describing your work is that you can then use it on your social media accounts. This will help generate traffic and advertise your story. You can also use the words chosen to describe your book to help you locate potential readers. Things like fantasy, adventure, romance all of these can be used to identify people with similar interests by searching for those hashtags and ones that are similar.
3. Think Of One Person
When we write, thinking of one person who will read our book can be helpful. You can also utilize this mental practice to figure out your target audience. These ideal readers are the people who are undoubtedly going to buy your book. They share similar values, interests, and traits.You can use this model to attract the right audience and focus your social media campaigns. To figure out who your ideal audience is, ask yourself who your book is for. If you're writing a YA novel, then your audience is for teenagers who are interested in things like finding themselves, exploring the world, fitting in, and romance. If you're writing a mystery, your audience is searching for a mental puzzle to solve, an adventure to be had, and a bad guy to catch.
To further understand how to find your idea reader, check out Getting Around The Algorithm: 5 Tips To Increase Your Instagram Visibility.
4. Make A List of Shared Interests
Take a moment and brainstorm the following. Think about what your ideal readers may also be interested in. Write down anything that comes to mind. Historical fiction readers obviously like history, and probably things like museums, theater, and travel. Self help readers may like things like yoga classes, retreats, spas, and health and wellness products. Whatever it may be, once you think of these details you can use them to your advantage. Ask yourself: What magazines would my reader likely pick up? What TV shows or movies would my audience like to watch? What books is my audience likely to read? By answering these questions you can surmise what will attract your readers to your books and market them appropriately. An example would be to search for hashtags relating to what you've written down. The people who post using these may also be potential readers due to mutual interests.
5. Use Social Media To Attract Fans
No matter what social media you choose to use, you can gain important insight from it. First Google search for already published books that are most similar to the book you're writing. Who writes them? Once you have the names of those authors, find them on their social media sites. Chances are the people following them belong to your target audience too. Start following and reaching out to these fans. The more you let them know who you are and what you've written, the more you'll see an increase in your own followers.
6. Follow & Connect With Other Writers
Whether you know them or not, start following writers with similar projects or already published works on social media. This will bring you two benefits: 1) By following already published writers, you'll be able to see clear examples of what you should be doing and 2) By following peers, you'll be able to tap into a support system with other writers looking to achieve the same goals. Often established writers will have some form of community or services they provide to assist others striving for the same thing. You can also look at what they are following/sharing/ how they are building their communities to figure out how you can grow your own. Peer writers typically are open to making new writer friends who could eventually turn into critique partners or beta readers. All you have to do is get in contact with them and introduce yourself to start building mutually beneficial relationships.
7. Use Keywords
It may seem silly, but searching for keywords has a lot of benefits for growth. Go back to the list you made for the hobbies of your potential readers. Now add in the ones that correlate specifically to your story. Once you've finished, pull up Google or Facebook. Start searching for each one individually and see what comes up. You'll find blogs, organizations, groups, businesses, and products that all fall under your ideal audience. Once you have these, you can start branching out and finding new people to spread the word about your novel to.
8. Learn on Skillshare
Skillshare is an online learning community with with thousands of classes for creative and curious people, on topics including writing, illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing, and more. It's also a great resource to learn how to effectively market yourself- without the cost of having to go back to school. I've personally used Skillshare and have to say that I absolutely love it! As someone who enjoys learning new things, I enjoy being able to do so flexibly and from the comfort of my own home. Lately I've been using it to learn how to better market myself on social media.
Here are some of the topics they offer:
Social Media Marketing: Top Tips for Growing Your Followers & Going Viral
How to Create Engaging Social Media Marketing Content
Introduction to Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing: How to Get Started with Paid Advertising on Instagram
And so much more!
To sign up, use this Skillshare link. If you register today, you'll get 30% off by using my link. What are you waiting for? Start learning and gaining followers today! You can start/pause the courses whenever you like and come back to it later if you get busy.
9. Identify What Makes You Unique
What makes you and your book special? Maybe it's your style of writing, your quirky vibrant characters, or even just your perspective of the world. Whatever it is, use it as inspiration for your website and brand. Play up these characteristics. They are what will set you apart from your competitors. Making sure your brand accurately reflects who you are and what you write will help ensure that your audience remembers you in the future.
10. Build A Strong Author Brand
Building a strong author brand is essential for the success of your author business. Effectively communicating who you are, what you stand for, and what you're selling is the key to a successful author experience. Building a brand is about recognition. What sets you apart from your competitors? What makes your brand stand out in a crowd? Can people recognize and associate it back to you with a 10 second glance? Considering these questions will help ensure that you're building your brand with your readers in mind.
To learn more about how to create your author brand, see How To Build Your Author Brand in 10 Easy Steps.
11. Write Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon
You've probably heard that reviews to authors, especially those who are self-publishing, is a big deal. Getting reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads means a greater chance that these sites will showcase your work where new customers can see them, which in turn leads to a higher rate of sales. It's the equivalent of being featured on a display stand in a bookstore. Customers can virtually walk past and pick up a copy. That being said, you may not be aware of the power that giving reviews can have. If you write honest reviews on either of these sites and write them consistently enough, you can also build a following. You will not only gain visibility, but also credibility based on what you write.
12. Vary Your Online Content
Another great way to increase your following is to vary your content on social media. If all you're posting are links to buy your book, you're not going to get many buyers. The reason is because after a while it will feel like you're selling your book. The more your promoting feels like an advertisement, the less likely it will entice readers to give it a try. Instead, try a less aggressive approach. Vary your links with personal anecdotes, quotes, images, giveaways, contests, other personal creative works such as short stories or vignettes relating to the characters of your story. You'll see a difference almost immediately. Engaging your audience rather than selling something will feel more genuine and will produce greater results.
13. Showcase Your Passion
Don't be afraid to show your unbridled enthusiasm! You LOVE writing. Tell us why. Share your passion with your audience and use that excitement to drive traffic where it needs to go- to your book.
14. Share Your Process
Similar to showcasing your passion, don't forget to take us through your process. Writers are curious about other writers and how they write. Readers want peeks behind-the-scenes to see how their favorite writers come up with their ideas. How you develop your stories and what challenges you face along the way can provide great fodder for posts.
15. Write About Why You Like To Tell Stories
Lastly, don't be afraid to share personal anecdotes. People bond when they see something real. It doesn't matter if its glamorous or not, the truth matters. People want to know you're human, that you share their hopes and struggles. So don't be afraid to be yourself. That's the best thing you can be!
With these 15 tips for building your author audience, you'll be able to overcome the challenges of lack of knowledge, being an introvert, and climbing that marketing mountain.
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