Our latest blog series has been about audience development: how to gain readership and keep it.
What is Audience Development?
What we mean by audience development is this: you should be taking intentional steps to increasing the number of people who read your book. Your audience won’t only purchase your book; they’ll read it, maybe more than once, and tell others about it. They’ll interact with other fans of the book. Your readership will grow because of these interactions, but only if you put time and effort into creating and maintaining a relationship with your readers that extends beyond your book.
Read more about audience development here.
What is an Author Brand?
All of our tips concerning building and maintaining an audience can really be distilled to one, common theme: create an author brand. Your brand is, essentially, what you offer as a writer. This goes beyond self-published books. How you present yourself, interact with others, and what you offer all go into the making of your author brand.
There are several ways to create and author brand and build your audience. We focus specifically on the benefits of social media, an official author website, an active blog, and writing forums.
Social Media Connects You to Readers and Writers
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will be the most beneficial social networking sites for writers, as they lend themselves well to writing and books. Facebook and Twitter make it easy to share links to online writing, author websites, and sites where readers can buy your book. It’s easy and cost-efficient to create targeted ads on these sites as well. You can use YouTube to post and share book trailers and other writing-related videos, such as vlogs (video blogs).
If you’d like to go above and beyond a personal Facebook account, you could create an official author fan page. It’s very simple; follow these steps:
- From your Facebook home page, click “Create” in the upper right hand corner. Select “Page” from the menu.
- You will be presented with two options: “Business or Brand” and “Community or Public Figure.” Select the second.
- Next you’ll type in “Page Name” as well as “Category.” We recommend either using just your name or your name followed by “Author” or “Writer” (e.g. “John Smith Author”). For “Category” you will select “Author.”
- Select continue. You will now be able to fill in information about yourself and your work. Invite family, friends, and coworkers to Like your page, and get posting!
Here are some tips for becoming involved in a writing community on Twitter:
- Search for other writers (whether they write books, short fiction, online articles, etc.) and follow them. Engage with their work in a meaningful way, reading and retweeting.
- Follow hashtags such as #amwriting or #WIP (work in progress).
- Post work you’ve written, whether this is in the form of a blog post, an article for an online site, or a short story or poem in a literary journal.
- Find a balance between self-promotion and the promotion of others’ work. Remember the give and take of a community.
Book trailers are like movie trailers, and they’re used to promote your book, tease what it’s about, and excite future readers.
Book trailers will be fun and engaging for the audience you already have, and because of social media algorithms, you’ll attract other readers who may be interested in your book based on other books they’ve read, searched, etc.
Read more about social media for writers here.
Creating an Author Website and Blog
A website gathers all aspects of your brand and puts them all together in one place. A website is a great place to promote your book, link to where readers can buy it, and promote additional work: freelance articles, online poetry or short stories, or, as we’ll discuss below, blog posts. There are tons of beginner-friendly sites you can use to build your official author website. We recommend buying your own domain.
On your author website, include the following pages:
- An “About the Author” section.
- Online publications.
- Awards or honors received.
- A contact page. (Say, for instance, an editor or publisher saw an article or short story you published and loved your work. A website with a contact page makes you easy to reach out to for solicitations.)
- Different pages for each book you self-publish. On these pages you should include a direct link to where readers can purchase the book, and you could also include blurbs, positive reviews, or even book excerpts. It should be very clear and easy for visitors to go from viewing your author website to purchasing your book.
- A blog.
Creating a blog to boost audience development takes time, but the more writing out there with your name on it, the easier you are for readers to discover. Your blog can offer what your social media and self-published books can’t: an in-depth look into your creative process, snippets of other projects you’re working on, writing tips, interviews, book reviews, etc. Readers of your book can follow your blog and get to know you, in a sense. This will make them feel closer to you and more likely to purchase future books you self-publish.
Read more about how to make a blog here.
Audience Development and Writing Forums
An online forum is a website or section of a website where users can post and interact with other users, sharing ideas and work. On a web forum, users can create profiles and post discussions topics to the messaging boards. Messages are organized by topic and title. Other users can respond to messages. You will also have the option of posting anonymously on most sites. Think of it as an online version of a writer’s workshop. Here’s what you can expect to get out of writing forums:
- Helpful writing tips and trade secrets.
- Beta readers.
- Thoughtful critiques.
- Suggested revisions.
- New books and stories to read.
- Emotional support.
Read more about writing forums here.
You don’t need to have millions of readers. You don’t need to sell millions of copies of your book to impact someone. All you need to do is form a connection with the fans you do have. All you need to do is work to develop your audience and write the best books you can for them.