So you wrote a book...What the Hell do you do next? Issue #4 Finding Your Audience, Cont... #selfpublishing #hacks
Hack #2 - Finding Your Audience, Continued...
In the last segment we examined how you can find your first customer. Sorry reader... Perhaps that is a more comfortable term, however I believe that customer is just as fitting. You are writing books because it is your BUSINESS! Businesses have customers and although this industry is different, the need we seek to fill, I.E. our wallets, requires return customers. Customers who are loyal to your brand, your Author platform.
What is an Author Platform?
This is a complex concept that will take time and patience to develop. I'm talking years, but it is worth every second to devote your time to this effort. It is a creative, organic process that has no formula. It is different for each author and depends largely on their persona and the work you as an author produce.
Let's start with what your Author Platform is NOT...
An author platform is not publicity or marketing or promoting. It is not your social media presence, or getting the attention of everyone you come across. Though many are confused by this, the author platform, or more aptly named Author Brand is much larger than simply selling your book. This is the foundation upon which you will sell all the other books, stories, and products you create in the future. Your brand is your voice, it is your visibility, and it is the place your audience will flock to.
So what is your Author Brand?
It is the entire pie of what you do online and offline. As self-published and indie authors we are responsible for all promotion, marketing, writing, editing, connections, you name it. It seems like a lot, and indeed it is a tall order, but it is not insurmountable. In fact it is possible, edifying, and thoroughly exhilarating. When I began this journey I was filled with "I can't". I can't write a book without help. I can't publish a book without help. I can't market my book without help.
I WAS WRONG!
Now my brand is centered on helping other authors, who are filled with the same doubt. I seek to dispel doubt, like a sorcerer. Indeed that is the exact purpose of this blog which will soon be a bestselling Kindle Release! Your book could be too if you follow the breadcrumbs I have...
Let's piece together what makes up a brand...
Though there are standard elements of what makes up an author's platform or brand I want it to be known that there is no standard model. In this day and age you need to stand out in a creative way. The elements of the author brand listed below are building blocks. You must choose which to leverage and in what way. The idea is to make a name for yourself. Starting out, after your first book you've got no ground to stand on, perhaps you have a handful of readers, a small social media network, and a whole lot of ambition. Unfortunately that ambition will most likely slide out from under your feet. A few days without sales, will turn into weeks, and then months and eventually you will feel like you should give up...
THIS WAS ALL A HUGE MISTAKE...I'M NOT CUT OUT FOR THIS...
That is the thought that will nag, sitting behind you, whispering in in your ear that no one will ever read your work. That you will never get where you thought you could. The luster of finishing and publishing your book will wear and you will feel disenchanted. It has happened to everyone who has ever written a novel, and if they tell you differently, they are selling you something. We all hit this road, because no one knows your name, no one knows your work, and they never will unless you make sure your name, your BRAND is successful. There is only one way to do that, and that is to work at building your brand everyday.
Key #1 is Consistency and a whole lot of Patience...
Readers are attracted to solid brands, brands that produce solid content. Whether the content is in a blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, doesn't matter, what matters is KILLER Content. Consistent KILLER CONTENT! Think of it as a web or a net for you to catch potential readers. It is a net you need to cast everyday. Cast it and wait patiently, because this will take time to build. There are countless methods but what avenues have other authors been successful in reaching their audiences?
1. Social Media
Most of us have worked hard to gather what little attention we can on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever your poison is. Many of the people within these networks have already bought your book, or never will, and that is OK. Your job is to find those people who will read your work, the people who will become your loyal base. In order to do that you are going to have to expand your sphere of influence aggressively. There are many ways to do this, and the methods are varied depending on the social media platform.
There are other Social Media circles that I plan to go into more depth with, including Tumblr, Pinterest, and various others which can help boost your overall visibility on the web, but let's hang onto those for a later time and move on to the second piece you need to start working on right away!
A blog is an excellent way to expand and feed your audience information about your work, your upcoming releases, and keep them interested in your brand, Blogs are a major piece of your brand as they are the unified voice of your smaller circles within Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pintrest, whichever you use. The content you release on your blog can be as varied as you like, though you want to make sure that whatever you produce maintains a high quality and a consistent release.
Your blog will be useful in connecting not only with your readers, but with other authors. One of the key's to reaching your audience lies within the sacred art of cross-promotion. Your best friends in this adventure filled search that is finding an audience will be other authors. You will learn from them in ways you won't be able to anticipate. One method you can use to increase your readership is to feature other authors and their work. Once you help to promote their work, their readers will flock to YOUR blog. Their readers want to read what they have to say. Author Interviews are a popular way to feature an author friend and can be useful in snagging readers from your fellow wordsmiths.
Quick TIP: Be honest in your pursuit.
Other Authors will be quick to take the opportunity, but be sure to do your due diligence to your fellow authors and provide a high quality post with intriguing questions that highlight THEIR WORK! You are doing this for them, and hoping to get some visibility for you and your brand, but in this case it is imperative that you do not forget that you must be honest and feature their work before yours. Interviews can be useful, but they are by no means the entire pie.
YOUR BLOG NEEDS TO BE YOU!
Be sure to feature posts that encompass you, your interests, your goals, your releases, your upcoming projects, the services you offer other authors, etc. Before you begin your blog sit down and make a list of things you might blog about.
It can be whatever you want, and what is important is that it stands out. Make sure to imprint your unique style in this blog/website. The best way to do that is to be YOU! This is the way you stand out and CONNECT with your audience. This is how you begin to build your brand, your platform
These are only the first pieces of the pie!
The first thing all authors need in surplus are patience and consistency. So begin to start expanding your influence online in the social circles you know, then slowly begin to expand into others. I will go over smaller venues and niche audiences in a later post, but the keys from this post should be that this is not going to happen overnight, it will take steady work, and it WILL BE FRUITFUL. If you stick with it.
Stay Tuned! How to Find Your Audience will be CONTINUED!
Christopher Lee is the indie author of Nemeton, an avid history buff, mythologist, bardic poet, and keeper of the old ways.