5 Steps Writers Can Follow to Optimize Their Inner Circle

Today’s guest post is by YA writer Kirsten McNeill.

So you’ve written your first book. You’ve created a beautiful story, and you connect with it as if it’s your first child. You’ve published your book and posted about it all over social media. What next?

You’re staring at the number of book sales, waiting, hoping, for them to rise. But they don’t. Why aren’t people swooning over it?

You’ve plastered it all over the place, and you feel you’ve shoved it in everyone’s face so much that you’re afraid they’ll unfollow you.

The truth is, you’re not being pushy enough.

This is your first book, so obviously you don’t have much of a following yet. Trust me, I know that feeling. I’m still in the process of growing my following, and my first book isn’t even published yet.

I know you’re dying to get people to read your book. We writers love the attention. If you don’t create buzz and attention, then you don’t sell books!

The Beginner’s 5-Step Marketing Plan

When it comes to marketing, I want to scream and run away. It’s a daunting task, and if you aren’t taking the traditional publishing route, you probably don’t have a marketing team backing you. Take a deep breath; it’ll be okay.

Getting people to read your book and spread the message isn’t as hard as it seems. Let’s start small. Don’t get overwhelmed. To market your book, simply build on your inner circle.

Step 1: Start by making a list of at least ten people you want to inform about your book. Select people you want to build connections with.

Write it on a piece of paper, on your computer, on your arm. Somewhere handy. You may think you’ll remember everyone on your list, but we inevitably forget. Trust me on this one—it’ll be useful later.

Step 2: After you’ve made your list, look at the top name. That will be your first victim—I mean, supporter. Contact him through phone, e-mail, tweet, etc. In person is better, but sometimes you need to rely on technology.

Step 3: When you get his full attention, start with small talk. Ask about his day and keep the focus on him. When it feels right, say something along the lines of “Could I ask you a favor?”

That’s your opportunity to talk up your book. Tell him that you’ve published your first book and you’re looking for people to read it. Tell him why you’re proud of the work you’ve done and why it would mean a lot to you if he read it.

The people on your list might say something that sounds as if they’re avoiding your request. They’ll say, “I’ll check it out when I can” or “I’ll read it when I have time.” When this happens, don’t give up.

Step 4: If you have physical copies of your book, find a way to give it to him. The promise of a free book is a great motivator.

Or offer to send him a PDF or Word file and ask him to read it. Ask him for criticism and feedback regarding characters, plot, or another specific aspect of the book.

Recognize his effort, and express your appreciation with a thank-you or a small gift, like a homemade bookmark, if possible.

Step 5: Give your potential reader every opportunity to say “Yes, I am going to read your book right this second.” Once he’s agreed and owns a copy of the book, make sure you follow up after a some time has passed, but don’t nag.

When you have the opportunity, ask him how far into the book he is and what he thinks. The more you make it about him, the more excited he will be to tell you his thoughts. You can also ask him to write a review or share the book link on his social media. Only ask one favor at a time and make it worthwhile.

If you ask him to share a link on Twitter, say you’ll share a link or post of his in return. Reciprocate the kindness.

You might also benefit from writing down his comments, good or bad. As long as the comments are useful, you should keep them in mind. You’re not obligated to agree with his suggestions, but always take constructive criticism into account. The comments will be useful if you’re still working on your draft, and they may be helpful with other books you subsequently write.

Why is This Process Useful?

The more feedback you get, the more you may see a pattern of opinions. Repeat the five steps with every person on your list. Mark down who has agreed to read and share it with their respective comments.

The problem is that bystander’s syndrome affects us all. The best way to get people to act is by personally asking them. Make them feel noticed and appreciated.

There is so much to look at on social media these days, and no one can pay attention to every piece of it. If you take the time to specifically choose people and ask them to be involved in your process, they will be more likely to act.

Don’t Just Talk the Talk

I know from personal experience that this process works. I posted about an emailing list for a newsletter on all my social media accounts and waited for people to start signing up.

At first I thought people would act on their own. I hate being pushy and annoying. I’m slowly realizing that I shouldn’t be afraid of being perceived as that. I got more people to sign up to my email list by personally asking them as opposed to waiting for people to find it on their own. It’s okay to be boisterous. That’s the only way to get a first book on the grid.

You will have supporters, whether it’s family, friends, or acquaintances, but they won’t know exactly what you want from them until you tell them. If you directly ask people, they will feel appreciated and spread the word to others. This is your first book, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get famous right away.

We are writers, and we should be proud of that! We should shout it from the rooftops and tell everyone we know and meet about this great masterpiece we’ve blessed the planet with.

Give it time. Tell everyone you know and see about your book. Before you know it, you might just have ten times as many followers than you will know what to do with.

Kirsten McNeill is a YA writer, blogger, and head of social interactions for CornerHub.Social. Visit her at The Art Is Ours.

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