How to Gain an Audience as a Writer
Credit Where Credit Is Due
My thanks to a fine writer, Hope Clark, for the inspiration for this article. She mentioned this topic on her blog, Funds for Writers, and I thought I would expand on it since I agree with her.
When I wrote my first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today, I knew next to nothing about marketing a book. Heck, truth be told, I knew next to nothing about writing a novel.
Now this may seem like a strange admission from a person with a degree in Marketing, a person who has owned and operated three businesses, but there is a world of difference between marketing a convenience store and marketing a book.
Or so I thought.
So, book completed, I enlisted the aid of a friend who was knowledgeable about the online world, and he mentored me on social media and how to use it to my advantage.
Determined and enthusiastic, I entered the world of Facebook, and immediately began sending out friend requests. Once those friend requests had been answered, I was the proud “owner” of 1,500 online followers, all of whom received notification that their new friend (me) had written a new novel, and their lives would not be complete unless they bought that novel.
Oh, the folly of the ignorant.
I believe, if memory serves me correctly, for my efforts I gained ten new sales of the book.
I was quickly reminded of a basic rule of marketing, namely that shotgun advertising rarely, if ever, works.
To put it another way….KNOW THY AUDIENCE, FOOL!
A Basic Truth for Writers
A writer must know who his audience is.
Why do you think they name genres to describe the different books that are written?
Okay, so let’s say you have just written a science fiction novel. Now what?
Logically, you would design your advertising so that it has the best chance of reaching those who read science fiction. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
It makes so much sense that I had completely forgotten it.
But I remember it now. Live and hopefully learn.
Hope Clark Says
This from her latest blog about establishing an audience:
Some of you will frown reading that headline, because in every aspect of your writing life, to be considered successful, you need an audience. And we hate that part of our profession: Platform.
That doesn’t mean you need 10,000 Twitter fans, 15,000 Facebook followers, 40,000 newsletter readers or 50,000 unique visitors to your blog, so don’t get all bothered by big numbers. Think more along the lines of one hundred die-hard fans. One solid fan is worth ten via word-of-mouth. Devotion carries a lot of weight and a lot of noise.
If you think a hundred or a thousand is out of your reach, then ponder what and who you’re writing for. If it’s friends and family, then don’t bother with all the hoopla of a publisher, Amazon, ISBNs or any professional needs of a book. Write your blog for loved ones only and quit looking at the statistics. Write for free in magazines that pay in copies.
Otherwise, you need a fan base. One thousand people who would walk through hell for you and drag others along with them. How do you do that?
Thank you Hope!
Now consider what she said….”one thousand people who would walk through hell for you and drag others along with them.”
How do you do that? Does it seem a bit overwhelming? Well of course it does. Few writers in this world have that kind of fan base (audience) but it is certainly something to shoot for, right?
So how do we do it?
THE FIRST STEP IN GAINING A LOYAL AUDIENCE
I hope you are taking notes because here is the first step: let your followers know you as a real human being.
Remember, you are looking for diehard followers…sort of like family….and the only way to gain those followers is for them to know you on a very human level, and for you to know them on the same level.
Don’t treat your followers like potential customers. Treat them as friends.
I knew this when I owned a convenience store. Our store would often outsell the supermarket two blocks down the street, and it was because of good old-fashioned customer service. We knew everyone’s names, and we asked about their lives. We chatted with them and always greeted them with a smile. Because of that, they would often pay a bit more for our products because they simply enjoyed shopping in our store.
Treat your customers like they really matter.
THE SECOND STEP
Be consistent and produce on a regular basis.
I admit that I have gotten away from this rule of late with my blog. I was so busy finishing my novel, Resurrecting Tobias, that I let my blog fall by the wayside.
Not a good idea!
Your followers like routine. They like to know that you will deliver when you say you will deliver. After all, they are following you for a reason. They either like you as a person, they like your writing, or they like both.
Don’t let them down by disappearing, or you will find it very hard to get them back.
On a related note, produce high-quality writing. If you are a mystery writer, and your followers are lovers of mysteries, then give them something they can get excited about. Quality writing will eventually be discovered, and once discovered it will be promoted by word of mouth. I believe that and you should too.
Am I reaching my audience with this website?
THE THIRD STEP
From a marketing standpoint, this is crucial.
Earn the respect of your readers by being respectful to them.
I have over 70,000 comments on the writer’s site HubPages, and I have responded to every single one of them over the past two-and-a-half years. If they took the time to comment about one of my articles, the least I can do is reciprocate….and….I have been respectful while doing so.
Believe me, there will be times when you will receive a comment that will make your blood boil. I have, and all of the writers I know have as well. When those times come, I simply thank the reader for taking the time to comment. I may not agree with them, but I am appreciative of the fact that they took the time to read my article and respond to it.
THE FOURTH STEP
I touched on this earlier, but let’s give it a little bit more depth.
Know who your audience is.
This is crucial if you have visions of having a devoted audience that will grow.
Those who read romance novels rarely follow blogs written by mystery novelists. Sure it will happen, but logic dictates that birds of a feather will, yes, flock together.
Seek out your audience. Write short stories and submit them to romance magazines. Hang out in forums with other romance novelists. Find those who will butter your bread and then eat it with gusto.
Do you practice any of these?
You Can’t Go Wrong Following Those Four Steps
I think it is very easy to become enamored with today’s social media. Writers drool over the thought of having 20,000 Twitter followers, or 10,000 Facebook devotees…but….that does not mean that they will all buy a book of yours.
In order for those numbers to mean something that will convert to actual book sales, you have to do some work.
And that work will take a long time.
But it will be worth it in the end.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”