So you wrote a book...What the Hell do you do next? Issue #5 Finding Your Audience, Cont... #selfpublishing #hacks
Getting to know your Audience
Now we've talked about how to find a potential first customer and how to begin to expand the visibility of our Author Brand or Platform, but we need to take the next step. Unfortunately it is a difficult one. Not because it is hard to achieve it is easy, but because it requires an insane amount of patience. You want results and you want them RIGHT NOW! I know because I've been there, hell I am still there. I want everything I write to reach the stars and wow everyone, but I like you have only just started this quest. There are a few things you need to do in order to change your mindset. A shift in how you think about your success after your first book is crucial to furthering your success with the next book, and the book after that. In fact your entire writing career hinges on whether or not you are able to surmount the wall you've put up inside your own head.
MOST OF US WILL NOT HAVE RECORD BREAKING SALES RIGHT AWAY!
It is just a fact! If this was your first book to finish and publish you've got a tough road ahead, but it is important not to watch your sales like a hawk everyday. Why? Because if you are busy wasting time checking your AMAZON KDP REPORTS you aren't taking the next step in building your audience. Your audience isn't in that report. (Even though it can be used to target your audience eventually) Set it aside! Cast it out of your mind.
CHECK YOUR SALES REPORT ONCE A DAY! THAT'S IT!
I know what you are thinking... hang with me for a second...
Getting to Know Your Audience is like Making a Friend...
It takes time right? Sure making a friend is rather easy a few conversations and a positive chemical reaction and you've decided if you like a person or not, but a relationship is a wholly different animal. You don't want friends, or fly by night acquaintances. Why? because they won't sustain your success. You need good relationships and that starts by putting in the time and effort to show your audience that you are involved in their interests. Be a part of their lives and you will start to notice that one good relationship is worth more than a hundred quick sales. You wouldn't start a relationship by asking someone to give you money would you? Nor would you say, well what are you gonna do for me? No you wouldn't cause only a crazy person operates like that.
Your Audience is like a garden...
To nurture and bear fruit a garden must be cared for with a diligent, consistent and thorough approach. The same is true of your audience, which like a garden has different types of occupants. You will find that your audiences is not made up of only one type of reader. You are going to be able to access and reach all kinds of readers, so you need to make sure to form the proper relationships and nurture those invaluable ties as you would water and feed your garden. Any gardener knows that you don't treat a tomato plant as you would a broccoli plant. Each one of your readers is unique and they need to be treated as such, especially this early in the game. The first readers you attract should be handled with care, make sure to make them feel like they are a part of your BRAND.
I know the garden analogy seems stupid...
But I know from experience, as do many others far more successful than I, that your audience must be curated and maintained to provide a healthy atmosphere in which your voice is heard, respected, and valued. You've already begun to set up your website, blog, and social media circles and now it is time to go and find the most elusive and most valuable reader you will ever find....
Your BRAND AMBASSADORS!
These people come in many shapes and they will most likely not be your typical reader, aka the first customer you identified. They are a mixed bag of social influencers who can spread your name, your brand, and your works like wildfire, the only problem is you have to do all the leg work to find and court these elusive unicorns. There are many places to look for Brand Ambassadors and your search should begin at the most obvious place.
Yup! This is where you start, but hang out before you freak out...
It feels broad and almost too big to climb like facing Everest. You will be stunted by the prospect of just randomly google searching for your audience. There are literally millions of places they hang out online and it is up to you as the self-published author to find them. No one is going to do it for you!
Remember your pitch, your books theme, your genre/category...
These will be your starting point, your clues to finding where your audience hangs out. Start by simply typing in the genre of your work and see what comes up. Study the listing, what are some of the biggest sites where your genre is being discussed. These are the places you need to go and make a name for yourself. Before you go out there ready to conquer the world there are some rules. These rules should not be broken, lest you wish to stifle interest in your brand and your book.
RULE #1 DO NOT GO SPAM YOUR BOOK LINKS
You are going to find that many of the places your audience hangs out in are forums or other similar networks where like minds hang out and discuss their hobbies. In the case of our customers, readers. There are countless blogs, forums, sites, and social media groups where your readers are located. But you cannot engage them with trashy links and poorly written, half-baked attempts at garnering attention. You need to become a part of that circle and many others. In fact you need to become an expert, you need to become an influencer in that circle if you are ever going to reach a best-seller list. This process is not easy, and it will not happen overnight.
I know I keep mentioning patience...
But these circles do not respond kindly to posts that break their forum guidelines. In fact they don't respond in any other way other than to block you and forget about you, forever. In order for these readers, influencers, and ambassadors to care enough to invest their time in your product, you have to show them why YOU are a worthy investment. You need to strike up a conversation, and then another one, and then another one until you become a part of that circle. IT SOUNDS LIKE WORK! And believe me it is, but it is worth it!
If you are like me you jumped ahead and tried to post your link to your book right away. You're excited I get that!
Sit and think for a second about what really catches your eyes when you are online. How often do you actually click on a link to another author's book. How often do you buy that book? Chances are that it is few and far between. Many authors are avid readers, but our time is precious. In many of these circles you will find a mix of authors and readers. There will be two kind of authors.
Be Number Two
Sign up for the forum where your genre's readers hang out and prepare your mind, because the next steps will be against your natural instinct, just hear me out. Once you make solid connections here you will have forged at least one Brand Ambassador. So how do you find them.
Now your Google Search may have rewarded you with some ideas of where to start, but I won't let you leave here empty handed.
There are many places you will find readers and the tactics I explained above will help you in starting the conversation, but it is up to you how much time you invest in this adventure for the fabled unicorn. The time you invest determines what you will get back. So where are some places that I have found promising?
By just focusing on these BIG THREE!
You will begin to expand your audience, this is the next big step. If you do not find a Brand Ambassador in these forums than you are not engaging the audience in the way you should. Find ways, be creative, stick your neck out and stand out. Make your presence known online. Start to shine and those Brand Ambassadors will find you. A prime example are serial reviewers. These are people who get off on reviewing, if they begin to take an interest in your work then you've hit a very profitable nugget in the world of audiences. They carry a heavily influential voice and can help catapult you into the e-Readers and Kindles of the people who trust their word. If you take the time to build your author Brand and seek out your audience simply to engage them in conversation then the readers will come.
Stay Tuned! The Next Issue is in the works!
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I want to hear from you. I want to engage you and talk with you. Let me know how we can help each other. My job here is to make everyone succeed, we all rise together, I get that self-publishing is hard, so let's make it easy.
Christopher Lee is the indie author of Nemeton, an avid history buff, mythologist, bardic poet, and keeper of the old ways.