Congratulations! Becoming a published author is a great accomplishment. You’ve done something few people will do in their lives. At the same time, more and more books are available for sale in the marketplace than ever before, including books that went out of publication and are now coming back as e-books. In my experience consulting with authors, creating a marketing plan is often one of the most overlooked disciplines when it comes to thinking about how to build an audience for their book.
I’ve also found that there is never a shortage of ideas for what an author could do to build an audience. The trick is selecting the best ideas that will work for your book.
Here are three keys to help you build an audience for your book:
- Stop thinking like an author. To write a book you have to think about things like plot, characters, lessons you want to share, etc. This is good when you’re writing a book, but now you should be trying to get people to read your book. Now, you need to start thinking like someone who would be interested in reading your book. Ask yourself questions like: Where do they shop for books? Why would someone read my book? What would someone who reads my book likely do for a living? Why would they recommend my book to a friend? The key here is to go deep; don’t just answer with ambiguities like, “Because it’s good.” Sometimes it’s useful to think about books that you have recommended to your friends. Why did you recommend it? What did you say when you recommended it? These are just a few ways you can start thinking like someone who would read your book. Once you’ve narrowed it down, try to write a concise statement of what one reader is saying to another about your book. The more concise you can be, the more likely you are to begin narrowing in on an audience for your book.
- Get recommendations. It’s never too early to ask people to review your book, but it might take some guts. One of the common fears I hear from authors is whether or not people will think their work is good. The truth is some people will love it, and others will say, “eh, not so much.” Remember nothing great in life was ever accomplished without risk. Endorsements for your book from credible reviewers are a great way to give other readers confidence that your book is worthy of consideration. You also want to have some “average Joes” provide recommendations as well. The truth is we read what other people like us are reading and recommending.
- Give love to get love. It sounds counterintuitive to give away your book for free when you wrote it to sell it. Typically, when we love a book we share it with our friends. If it’s printed we hand them a physical copy and say, “You’ve got to read this!” One way to make your e-book tangible is to consider using BookStubs to promote your book. The key is when you give a copy away ask the person to send you an email with their thoughts on the book. If they will recommend your book to a friend, make sure you get permission from them to use their comment on your website and in other marketing materials. Start with people you know, then get the names of a few of their friends to whom you can send a free copy. The more diligent you are with your follow-up, the more likely you are to increase the “pass-along” value of your book.
These aren’t the only three ideas that you’ll encounter as you build an audience for your book, but they are three simple ideas that often get overlooked. Execution is critical when you’re initially launching your book. Make sure that you select initiatives that are easy to implement, and then have the discipline to follow through. Again, congratulations on being an author. Now it’s time to get cracking on building an audience for your book!