How To Find Your 1000 True Fans
I believe in cultivating a tribe around my writing which resonates with my voice. I write both fiction and poetry.
At some point in time, I want to write a memoir too. I am not a single genre writer. I like to read all kind of things and likewise, I want to write on different subjects.
Growing one’s audience is like growing one’s tribe. My tribe is my “community”. These are my readers, fans, fellow writers, friends, and those who share my values.
Cultivating a tribe is more than creating a community. Cultivation requires constant refinement, intimate communication between me and my fans, encouraging reader engagement, and most of all audience-trimming. Before, we talk about “fan-trimming”, let’s find out what having a tribe does for us?Your tribesmen are your brand ambassadors. Your tribesmen are your cheerleaders.
Your tribesmen are your sales agent.
Your tribesmen are your trusted beta-readers, advisers and market feedback.
Your tribesmen are your allies and friends.
Your tribesmen are your supporters and they want to see you succeed.
As you can see from the above bullet points, trimming becomes essential to preserve the quality of your support network, your tribe. Your tribe members can be anywhere but they are not your fans or followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Most often they are your email list subscribers and the ones those who frequently comment on your blogs, Facebook and/or Instagram posts. They actively engage with you and your writing. You should cherish them as your real family.
In this blog post, I want to share my journey and the adventure I have had since I decided to publish my work.
I was already having some presence on various social media and promoted my book on Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. But if you are new, you can start now. Social media is cool and it helps a little. Note the word “little“.
I sent out emails and contacted bloggers to review my book. I created an email list using MailChimp and started sending out helpful tips and interesting stories from which we all can learn. I started traveling and meeting new people. I found new characters for my second book (coming out soon) based on the people whom I have met on my adventurous journey.
So what is our focus in this blog post? And, why am I doing this all? A 12-14 hours of daily writing, reading tons of books, developing new connections with people – why all this hard work?
If you are a writer or blogger yourself, you may very well be asking these same questions. So what are we trying to achieve here?
My good guess would be — we are trying to grow our audience size. We are seeking outreach to people whom we can touch and impact positively through our stories.
We are trying to tell our stories to those who would benefit from our writing. But, how do we do that? How do we meet our true fans? How do we connect with our readers? How do we grow our network and meet new readers?
I think I have an answer (tried and tested by me previously). Continue reading to take a first-time look at my detailed plan outlined here. As I mentioned, I started this blog in October last year and joined various social media around the same time (+/- a few months). Following my plan outlined here, I grew my Facebook page to 15K, Instagram account to 20K followers, Pinterest account to 3.2K followers, Twitter account to 15K followers, YouTube account to 1000+ followers (with 1 million+ views) and my mailing list to over 300 subscribers.
During this time, I was also able to get on SlideShare with three slides, got over 38K views on my Google+ page, and created my presence on Tumblr, and on top three online poetry portals (Hello Peotry, PoemHunter, Deep Underground Poetry).
I am going to outline my plan to grow my author’s platform further to a target goal that I have set up for myself for this year.
How to Grow Your Author Platform
1. Write More Books
I have these upcoming books in the next three years. God’s Original Psalm is the project that I am currently working on.
- Naked Soul: The Journey Of Love (Genre: Poetry/Romance)
- Naked Soul: The Sacred Intimacy (Genre: Poetry/Erotic)
- Naked Soul: God’sÂ Original Psalm (Genre: Spirituality)
- Letters By A Young Christian Mystic (Genre: Spirituality)
- Friendship (Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help/Relationship)
- How To Travel The World Under $30,000 USD (Genre: Travel)
The best thing a writer can do is to “write more books”. Pretty obvious, right? But isn’t. Majority of the people spend time figuring out one secret technique that will make them an overnight success. I wish magic was real.
The best way to grow your author’s platform is to simply write more books. The more good books you write the luckier you’ll become. Almost like magic.
2. Improving My Organic Search Rank on Google for Greater Discoverability
– More quality content and Frequent blogging
– Guest blogging with other bloggers and writers
– Make blog posts shareability easy for your readers.
More quality content and Frequent blogging
I am taking blogging more seriously. I have been blogging since 2005 and have had numerous blog. After years of soul searching and discovering my authentic voice, my genuine voice, I have started this blog and this blog is going to my open diary taking note of my various adventurous journeys.
My second goal is to build a passionate community around the Naked Soul Blog by engaging the blog readers through “Comments”. Often times, what is not answered or covered by a particular blog post is answered by a reader’s comment. Comments help all the readers.
3. Building a Huge Email List of Interested Readers
– From blog email sign-up form
– From Facebook page giveaways, quizzes, etc
– From Instagram giveaways, etc
– From new one-on-one connections made online
4. Outreach & Connection With My Readers on Social Media
- Instagram: by words as pictures and good, heartfelt captions
- Facebook: by poems, blog post links, and videos
- Pinterest: by pictures
- Twitter: by tweeting short poems and quotes
- YouTube: by videos
- Goodreads: by posting blogs, answering fan’s questions, giveaways
5. Growth on Social Media Using Specific Tools
- Tailwind (for Pinterest)
- Buffer (for Facebook, Google+, and Twitter)
- Unfollowers (for Twitter)
- Instagress (for Instagram)
- Bonus tools: Post Planner (Facebook) and AgoraPulse (Facebook)
You might not need these but in case if you want more tools to explore. I would recommend sticking to the basic four.
I have used them all and they all are good and the reason you do not want more tools is simple: you won’t have any time left.
6. Build a Team of Core People
Your job will be to assign tasks to your team member. If you are starting out, chances are you have a day job and are busy. You may want to hire one, two or more Virtual Assistants (VAs) depending on your needs and present situation.
In the coming months, I will be working with two VAs from India (at the same cost of one VA from Zirtual). I have not hired anyone yet but hope to do so within a month or so. Once my team is set up, I will:
- Decide what will my team do vs what I do? (task delegation)
- Help my VA in outreach to bloggers and other writers
- Train my VA on using all of the above-mentioned tools (but I’ll be managing the tools, overall strategy, and the setup)
– Help other writers as much as I can.
– When requested and provided an Advance Reader Copy (ARC), write a book review.
– If requested write a book blurb, book’s back cover material, book’s Introduction and/or a Foreward if our genre overlaps.
– Help and promote similar (overlapping) Â writers on my blog and social media
– Share and exchange our experiences and stories from our writing journey (quite an adventure so far)
The more help you provide, the better and effective you will get at using your own advice. Moreover, there is no such thing as “giving too much”. The more you give away for free — the better it is for your long term career.
Make friends, early on. Trust me, this is going to be a long ride. You’ll need a group of friends to keep you motivated in tough times.
8. Get Reviews From Reputable Bloggers, Book Reviewers, and Magazines
This is important. After writing your best book, the next most important thing is to get some great reviews and some media coverage. The “media” that I am talking about is not the old school “Press Release” but the presence of your book everywhere on the World Wide Web.
In other words, your book should be present everywhere a book is allowed. Internet mainly.
Getting 2 or 5 good reviews will help you get more reviews. Your initial book reviews will shape your later reviews. Also, remember, once you have collected about 25 reviews, it will be relatively easier for you to pitch your book to mid-size bloggers.
9. Find and Connect With the Mavens in My Field
– Keep building quality relationships on Goodreads community with Goodreads mavens
– Keep discovering and connecting with the mavens everywhere: Social media, Blogosphere, etc.
The above 9 bullet points describes my 80%-90% of activities. Using these methods (and only these 9 methods, eighty-to-ninety percent of the time) I am going to find, meet and build a one-on-one relationship with my 1000 true fans. This will take time, true, but they are all tested strategies proven to work.
9 Things That I Will NOT Be Doing
Below is the list of 9 another things that I will *NOT* be doing because I will probably run out of time doing the things mentioned above. (Remember 80/20 rule?) 80% of your results are produced by the 20% of your core work. So, what happens if you use 80% of your time on that 20% of core work that produces 80% of your results? Magic. After all, magic is not completely dead.
But if you have time, energy or capacity to DO these tasks as well, good for you! These are the other things (ideas) that I have tried to some degrees and find them to be useful.
But remember, prioritize your time. As an author you can *also* benefit from doing these. Here you go:
1. Attend writing/books related meetups and build new connections with readers and writers. The goal here is to not overkill it. Attend a few meetups each month. Build quality connections.
2. Join book clubs; or start a new book club in your area (or try one online). This is a low-investment approach to book marketing. The goal here is not promote your book, but be seen as the expert in your domain and/or genre.
3. Try LinkedIn publishing. If you are a full time writer go for it. But, if you are like me doing a day job and writing part-time, then you are better off not mixing up your LinkedIn (professional network) with your writing life.
4. Try podcast (in addition to blogging) to reach whole new group of audience. If I have to start one thing from this list of 10, this will be my first pick.
5. Participate in local, state, regional and/or national poetry contests. Usually, it is a high investment, low return strategy. But like a lottery (with a shower of good-luck), if you WIN, you can use the award as a book blurb in your marketing. This kind of things don’t sell books directly but brings curious readers to you. And some of them will eventually get your books.
6. Plan a book tour and do book readings. (It does not have to be grand. Start local.) A national or even a multi-state book tour would fall under my next section. But, if you are doing it locally (using your car and no overnight hotel stay), you can give it a shot. It is fun too. And it feels good as well.
7. Participate and do open mike poetry and/or poetry slams. Depending upon your city or town, this can be a good place to find your next fan.
8. YouTube – Record your readings (poetry or fiction) and share it on your YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Google+ and on Goodreads.
9. Organize Google hangouts and do live poetry readings. Engage with your fans and interested readers.
9 Things That I Do NOT Recommend (Time Wasters)
Below is the list of 9 things that I firmly believe to fall under time wasters. It is not that these activities will not help you but chances are they will not be worth your time, money or brain-power.
1. Try to approach bookstores to keep your book (even with the book-returns clause). First of all, sadly your endeavor is not going to be successful and even if you manage to get one or two bookstores keep and display your books, they won’t be able to give your copy a prime spot when there is already hot books out there competing for that tiny space.
2. Try to join forces with local merchants to store your books on display on commission basis. Not worth the time and effort.
3. Try to sell your books to your family members, close friends and anyone who meets you. Not a good strategy from a long term perspective. You do not want to alienate people. By pressurizing people into hard-sales, you’ll most definitely make them avoid you in future.
4. Promote your ebook for free. Only offer free books if you have other books available in the series. If you only have one book (assuming you have honestly put in a lot of time into it and it is > 175 pages), price it $2.99 or may be even $0.99.
The reason you do not want a free book is because, free-book readers are also harsh and critical. And it is simply a high risk to get in a spiral of bad reviews. One good review gets you another good reviews. One bad review gets you another bad review. You do not want your writing career to start with 3.5 star rating. Do you?
5. Paying for reviews or Buying reviews on Fiverr or anywhere. Damn it. It is both sad and pitiful that so many amateur writers are into buying reviews. It hurts you more than anything else. Readers are smart and moreover, you want your reviewers to read your book and like your writing.
It is better to send ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to interested readers and request them to review (good or bad).
6. Send Direct Messages to random people (read: strangers) on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads or anywhere. Do not do this. This will not get you more than grand total of 0-5 sale and ton of hate and annoyance. Again, think long term. You do not want to piss of your readers even before they got a chance to become your reader.
7. This one does not require a bullet point in itself but it is important. Do not spend a lot of time marketing your book on social media. Again, read point #6. If you are just starting out, more often than not, your shouting about your own book would only come off as self-promotion and annoyance.
Social media’s primary purpose for most reader is entertainment and connection. Discovering a new book from a no-name author would be the last priority any Facebook user can think of.
8. Big budget advertisement. If you do not have atleast three or more books out, you are better of not having a big advertisement campaign. When you promote big, your message will be seen by many potential readers (and book buyers).
Some of them might not like your advertised title but may find your other book interesting. If you have only one book, the ROI is usually a big waste of money. Save this money for later. You’ll need it.
9. Use my personal Google+ and Facebook page to reach out to more like-minded people. There is nothing wrong in doing this. But from my personal experience (and of countless other writers and artists) — this eventually sums up to only one thing — A Waste Of Time.
Last But Not The Least
A quick note on social media. Social media is important. There is no denying that but focus on using a few rather than all.
I feel the most important ones for a writer are (in order of importance): 1. Facebook, 2. Instagram, 3. Pinterest, 4. YouTube, 5. Twitter, 6. Google+. And you can stop right here.
This is more than you can swallow.
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