Building an audience is all about making connections. You can do this through your book, your words, your social media personality, your blog, or through meaningful interactions with other writers and readers in writing forums. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a part of a creative and supportive community? Think of how your craft will grow and flourish under the care and meaningful support and critiques of others within your field.
What is Audience Development?
This blog series has been about one thing: how to build and strengthen the relationship between writer and reader. The careful cultivation of this relationship will build your audience, boost sales, and create excitement for future self-published books. Authors can build their audience by creating an author brand (personality), interacting with other writers and readers on social media, creating a central hub (website), blogging, and, finally, by participating in writing forums and other communities.
What are Online Forums?
The definition of a forum is, “a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.” An online forum, therefore, 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.
While this may sound like social media, it’s different. Social media serves a vast amount of purposes, and people of all walks of life use it differently. Online forums, however, serve a specific need or are suited to a particular interest or niche. Users can message others and post about a certain topic.
A shared interest can lead to a community, one that challenges and supports one another.
The Promise of Writing Forums
Writers can get a lot out of writing forums. 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. As a self-published writer, it may seem like you’re going it alone. This isn’t true, though! On writing forums, other writers can give you tips and ideas for how to maximize your writing time. Each and every writer has a process, and learning about another’s process may inspire you to make some necessary changes to yours.
- Beta readers. A beta reader is someone who reads drafts of your work and offers suggestions and feedback. It’s smart to use several beta readers at several different points in your writing trajectory. You can have your readers read the first draft and second or third to compare the work and let you know if it’s an improvement.
- Thoughtful critiques. Writers can be competitive, but having a writer read your work is truly invaluable. Other authors can provide immensely helpful feedback and critiques in ways non-writers can’t.
- Revisions. Along with their critiques and suggestions, your beta readers can offer ideas for revision – sections or chapters that need a little tweaking, areas where a rewrite is necessary, etc. Once you’ve completed those revisions, you can repeat the process.
- New books and stories to read. Writing forums won’t always be about writing. You’ll also be reading! You can act as a beta reader for other writers, and this will provide new books and stories to read. Switching hats from writer to reader and editor can be a fun, creativity-stoking activity.
- Emotional support. Writing can be exhausting. At times when you feel creatively and mentally drained, bitter toward your work, or hopeless about your book, your fellow writers will prop you up, encourage you, and push you further.
How can Writing Forums Boost Your Audience?
Developing a dedicated audience is all about author branding and creating a feeling of a relationship between writer and reader. It’s about being authentic and accessible and self-publishing a really good book. A good book is easy to connect with. Readers who finish your book and love it won’t have to work for that connection. A connection to the author, on the other hand, requires a bit more work, but if you do it correctly, your audience will grow.
Forums will build relationships no matter what. Having a common interest is a good place to start. Participating in writing forums will build your audience and boost sales in several ways.
- Your beta readers are readers.
- The friends and colleagues you make will follow your self-publishing journey.
- You will build excitement around the final product: your self-published book.
Imagine being a part of a writing community and reading a fellow author’s work from the very first draft on. By the time it got published, you’d be pretty invested, right? Even if you weren’t a beta reader for the writer, and merely spoke with them a few times on the discussion board, you’d feel a certain connection–maybe even a friendship–with them. This connection, to both the writer and book, would provide enough cause to purchase the book.
Popular Writing Forums
- Writer’s Digest
- My Writers Circle
- Absolute Write Water Cooler
- AgentQuery Connect
Participate in one or in several writing forums. These forums will help you find not only the support you need but also new readers. You’ll find your audience growing and the support for your book increasing. You’re never going it alone when you self-publish. There are always resources at your disposal. DiggyPOD aims to be one of them.