Today's guest post is courtesy of one of my co-workers at Tate Publishing, marketing representative Jim Miller. Jim does a great job of helping authors find their target audience, and he also writes his own blog at http://aftertheinkdries.wordpress.com
Authors talk and think all the time about who is reading their books,
but how often do you think about who talks about your book and who gets
others to read it?
Gaining readers is only the first step of building an audience. A
reader is merely someone who read your book whether they loved it, hated
it, or were indifferent. If all you’re building is readers, you’re
doing all the work yourself, one reader at a time. You can have success
this way, but you can have more success paying attention to the other
types of people you’re looking for.
Fans are people who love your book and talk about it. Evangelists are
people who get others to buy it. Building up these segments of your
audience is far more important than building readers alone. These people
will be the army you need to grow your brand.
So how do you build fans and evangelists?
• The first step is to provide a place for fans to gather. If you
don’t have a blog, start one. If you don’t know what one is, you’re
reading one. If you’re a Tate author, and we created your website, you
already have one. The internet has no lack of articles to learn how to
blog well, but here is a good place to start.
• Use your website and/or blog to let people know more about you and
your message. If you’re a fiction author, you can write short stories or
back stories about the characters in your book and post them here. Do
whatever you can think of to give more to people who want more. Think
about the things you like to read about famous people you admire and
provide these things.
• Encourage anyone who comes to the site to post comments and
questions, and respond to them. Readers think every author is famous,
and the more they like your book, the giddier they’ll get about hearing
from you. When they’re excited about hearing from you, they’ll tell all
their friends that an author replied to their comment. They may post a
link to your blog or website on facebook or on their own blog. You can
encourage this by giving blanket permission to repost your posts if they
give you credit, like I did with the tips on blogging from Ford Saeks.
(If you haven’t clicked that link yet, it’s right here.)
• Wherever you go to speak or sign books, tell people about your blog
and/or website, and encourage them to connect with you there. If you
use projection slides with your presentation, put your blog or weblink
on the last slide, and make sure it stays onscreen while you are taking
questions from the audience.
• Always, always, always ask people to tell others. Obviously, I’m
not talking about accosting strangers and asking them to tell people
about your book. That would be creepy. However, whenever someone says
something nice about your book, your knee-jerk response should be,
“Thank you so much. Please tell everyone you know about the book. We’re
trying to build an audience!”
• This is particularly true when people ask you when your next book
is coming out. It is not uncommon for new authors to have 5 or 6 people
ask this question and then try to put pressure on me to make their 2nd
book happen. I can’t go to our acquisitions editors and say, “6 people
have asked when the next book is coming out.” Their first question will
be, “How many books have they sold?” If someone asks you when your next
book is coming out, say, “As soon as we sell enough copies of the first
one, so tell all your friends to buy it.” Some people will. Those are
• Reward your fans and evangelists in ways that are small to you but
big to them. This could be anything from sending them a handful of
bookmarks to naming a character after them in your next book. Some
authors even use their blogs to workshop their future books. They share
ideas or setting and plot points on their blog and work the feedback
they like best into their writing. Be creative.
The crazy thing is that fans and evangelists don’t even have to be
readers, necessarily. I’m a fan of Craig Groeschel, pastor of
LifeChurch.tv. I interviewed him (skeptically, I might add) when I was
the editor of a magazine that showed how churches use technology in
worship. The more I heard his heart and heard his passion repeated
through my interviews with the rest of his staff, the more I came to
appreciate him. I’ve never read his book Chazown (that’s the Hebrew word
for “vision”), but I like it because I’ve seen his God-given vision in
Even stranger, I’m an evangelist for Bill Hybels, another author who
is pastor of Willow Creek Church. When I was 17, my dad gave me one of
his books, and for 25 years now, I’ve called it “the best book I’ve
never read.” The book is called Who You Are When No One Is Looking. The
title alone convicted me and changed the way I look at the world. It has
shaped my character again and again over the past 25 years, and I’ve
told many, many people to buy the book. If you’ve never considered this
issue or known who you should be when no one is looking, go buy the book
and read it.
If you’ve done anything at all to build your audience, you have some
fans and evangelists. Connect to them and watch how much faster your
Comment below: What are some of the ways you’ve created fans and evangelists?