The last two Thursdays I’ve been addressing a huge concern of many writers, and that’s the challenge of how to grow an audience of readers who love your books. I shared the top three things I feel are essential and that’s 1) write a great book, 2) find the perfect niche, and 3) grow your fans one at a time.
The #1 bit of advice successful authors give me and blog about is “focus on your mailing list.” Last week I talked at length about the benefits of a mailing list of faithful readers—or at least interested readers who may turn into devoted fans. And I shared some of the strategies that seem to be working for many authors.
Writers can find countless blog posts on marketing, promoting, and ways to get discovered, from contacting Amazon reviewers to doing costly giveaways to blasting every social media channel out there. But you might agree that we can spend eight hours a day on all this and not get any traction.
I spent four years, when self-publishing began taking off, trying every strategy under the sun, and found little success. With my traditionally published novels, I spent a good five figures on a publicity firm and in mailing costs, sending out advance reader copies and trying to get noticeable reviews for my books.
As I mentioned, from time to time I spend some money on ads, usually going for a broad spread across numerous sites in the hopes the ubiquitous (my hope) exposure will generate a flood of sales. But apart from Bookbub I’ve never seen much in the way of results. Usually the sales fail to cover the cost of my ads.
If you have some money to spend, hiring a book-marketing expert may help. If anything, delegating all that work and planning and executing will free you up to do what you really want to do—write. Coordinating a successful book launch takes a lot of time, and I’ll admit—I usually have no patience to plan one. Sure, I could make the time, but this isn’t the kind of activity I enjoy. And since I don’t have a lot of extra money lying around, I usually do very little to launch a book.
And because of that, the results I get, I’m sure, are far from what I’d see if I planned and executed a savvy book launch.
If you already have a following—and that growing mailing list—you may not need to do much more than announce your upcoming release, do a bit of promoting online, maybe plan to discount your book the first week, and ensure you have done your homework so that your product page, cover design, keywords, and other essentials are targeting your niche genre as best as possible.
It all swings back around, though, to those “musts” the top-selling authors list. Cranking out great books on a regular basis. Giving away the first book in a series or one of your collection for free. Writing books that target a very specific audience.
We can get so overwhelmed by all the many ways we can use our time to promote and market. Yet, we can’t afford to ignore this, because if we do, it’s highly unlikely anyone will notice our books. You might get lucky and win a contest or award, but I’ve won some top awards and that didn’t ensure lasting high sales. Events like that are often blips of success on the screen.
So, to me, what really matters at the end of the day or month or year is finding ways of sparking interest in my books and nurturing and pleasing those readers. And that’s best done via my mailing list.
Before I move off this topic and onto the next concern that readers have wanted more help on, I’d like to hear from you.
What has worked, and not worked, in your attempt to grow your audience? If you’ve seen success, what #1 suggestion would you give other authors to see similar success? Please share in the comments!
Here are a few great posts featured on Live Write Thrive that may help you grow that audience:
I’ll be sure to share more posts on how you can grow your audience, and your requests for this has prompted me to reach out to successful authors and see what they’ve been doing. Be sure to read all the posts this year on productivity. If you can ramp up your productivity, that’s going to go a long way toward this goal of putting out lots of great books for that growing audience to read!
Featured photo: Annie Spratt