If you, like so many other writers, worry about getting to release day and finding that nobody is interested in a first-time, unknown author, then we have the answer to your problem!
In just 5 easy steps, you can build up a dedicated fan base that will be anxiously awaiting the release of your book long before it is published. Creating a fan base before release day means you’ll no longer need to be stressed about disappointing sales or a lack of readership, because you know they’re already there!
You’ve spent countless days, months (or even years!) writing and redrafting your masterpiece, and you want it to receive the recognition you know it deserves. After all, you know the story is good, because you’ve probably written the book you’d want to read. And we completely agree – that much hard work deserves reward! Just think about it: if you’d love the book, there are definitely other people – and probably a lot of them – that would love it too! But these people don’t appear out of thin air – how can they read your book, and love it, if they don’t know about it?
That’s where the easy steps come in! Follow these 5 stages to connect your book with its rightful readers!
1. Post sneak peaks and snippets
The first thing anyone will tell you about marketing is to find your target audience and market primarily to them. That’s absolutely right – but how are you to find your target audience when you don’t have a finished product to test among readers? You have no market research because you don’t have a book to market yet!
The answer to this? Samples! Whether it be online, among colleagues, friends and family or at events, you need to share extracts from the book (maybe the first couple of chapters, or a particularly strong set of scenes) as early as possible to see how your readers respond. Some people start with family and friends, but this often means you’ll get a biased ‘we have to gush about it because it’s Auntie Maureen’s sister’s cousin’s book’ approach.
What you actually want is cold, harsh truths about who does and doesn’t like it. The key to honest feedback? Post your samples online!
2. Start a professional blog or website for uploading your snippets
Note we say professional here, because as an upcoming author, you don’t want to be penalized for having a haphazard website with a lengthy, hard-to-remember URL. And trust us, people do take note of this!
It’s very easy to register a domain name (i.e. JohnDoeAuthor.com), so it’s best to snatch up your author name before somebody else does! This not only makes you look more professional and established as a writer, but is also far easier for people to remember, should they ever want to search for you. You can create blogs and websites through sites like WordPress or One.com, and once you’re all set up, you can regularly update your site with new extracts, interviews and sample chapters ready for potential readers to sink their teeth in to.
Remember: always encourage feedback and comments! If the reader doesn’t already know you, they are far more likely to give an honest opinion – they will stick around (and maybe even comment) if they do like your writing, and they’ll disappear if they don’t. And that’s your first step towards understanding your target audience.
3. Include a newsletter
Alongside or underneath each post, have a very bold and visible newsletter sign-up for those who want to be reminded of new content being added or receive updates on the book’s release. If a reader is engaging with your work, chances are they’d like to hear about any additional chapters they could read for free – and eventually the chance to actually pick up a copy of the book. Advertise a quick and easy sign-up for updates on free content and let your target audience come to you.
Once you have their email addresses, you can let them know each time a new extract is added (and get more feedback on your work) and give them updates on when the book is to be released, where it will be and how much it will cost. Again, always ask for responses and engagement so your readers feel involved and welcome!
4. Publish a free eBook on sites like Amazon and Kobo
In the days of social media marketing and touch-of-a-button downloads, people generally expect to get a little something for nothing to pique their interest. If you want someone to sign up to your blog, read your book or listen to your album, they’ll want to try it out first, so they don’t have to take a risk and spend their money hastily. It makes sense, right? Why purchase something before you can guarantee you’ll like it?
And you might be thinking that you’re already posting free content on your website, but in actual fact these are only reaching one section of your audience. You have to work hard to drive traffic to your website, but on sites such as Amazon and Kobo, the readers are already there, primed and looking for content! Don’t get us wrong, your website is still incredibly useful as it’s the only place you can get newsletter sign ups right next to your content, and so these platforms work in unison together – one without the other just wouldn’t be as effective!
Try writing a short eBook in a similar writing style to your upcoming release – perhaps you already have some short stories that you never did anything with? Many eBook sites require completed work rather than samples, so this is where a short story fits in perfectly. If somebody likes your writing style for one story, it’s very likely they will be interested in reading more from you. When it comes to your audience, they’re far more likely to stick around because of you and your style of writing than a certain plot or character.
Later on, if you’re writing a series, you can try making the first book free for readers to test out before they commit to the next installments.
Whenever you post anything, promote it on social media! It’s no good releasing a goldmine of free content if you’re not making readers aware of it. Follow readers of your genre and anybody you feel would be interested in your writing, and build up a network of people that might like the content you’re posting. Then, once you have a handful (and rising!) of followers, let them know about the free goods! But don’t just limit yourself to advertising your wares, because followers may tire of it. Try commenting on others’ posts, replying to people and really engaging with as many accounts as you can to help people understand why they would love your book.
Remember, happy readers mean good reviews! And the more reviews you receive, the more new readers will be willing to take a chance on a book they’d previously never heard of. And so it goes on! Before you know it, you’ll have a dedicated fan base and a stream of passive income coming in that really takes the edge off when it comes to writing the next in the series.
That’s a wrap on our marketing tips this week – if you have any topics you’d like us to discuss or ideas for future posts then do let us know and we’ll have them up soon!
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