Where Are The Readers??
When I first started down the path of writing a book the question of “how will I find readers?” never crossed my mind. Any professional reading this blog post right now is eye rolling at that comment. I know, I know. But it’s true! I never stopped and thought “how will I find the reader who wants to read a Supernatural Thriller with three strong female leads who love, laugh, and kick demon butt?” I should have asked that question. In fact, I should have asked a lot of questions about what I was going to do when it was finished. How was I going to prepare for launch and what did I need to do to get ready for it? They say ignorance is bliss, well I was definitely blissful. Blissful to have gotten through the years-long challenge of bringing a finished product to market, that was really all I was focused on. Little did I know that completing the manuscript was only half (maybe even less than that) of the battle.
There are lots of articles, blogs, interviews, and books about writing & publishing. I don’t know if I was distracted or just subconsciously thought “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it”, but it’s here and I am still waiting to find the larger pool of readers. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m sitting around doing nothing, quite the contrary. I’m running around doing a little of everything. What can I tell you about that experience…Well, I’m exhausted and most of it has not turned into paid sales. I thought I would share some of the things I have tried and what has worked and what hasn’t. Also, I will share where I think the real value of all this time and investment from me is going to pay off.
Two and half weeks prior to launch, I dragged my husband, Alan, into helping me with a quasi-marketing plan to generate buzz on social media ahead of the launch. For the longest time, Alan was nicely trying to push me to start this earlier. I should have already been blogging on a regular basis. He suggested I open a Twitter, Instagram and FB page. I thought I was a little ahead because I had a tech friend of mine create a website on Wix, which had a blog. However, in over a year I think I posted two things to it. Needless to say that was not generating much of anything. I also already had an author page on my FB, so I was feeling like I wasn’t that far off from where I needed to be……except I really was. Between you and me, Alan was right, but let’s keep that to ourselves shall we…
Social media is where you create Buzz. It’s an enormous drain on your available time. It’s hours a day, to generate enough new content and engage with enough people to make it worth it. That’s the only way to start from zero (which is where I started on Twitter) to get to over 3,000 followers. I was petrified of Twitter. All you ever saw in the news were negative stories about what anonymous people said out there. It made it all sound very lawless like the Wild Wild West, with its own prison, “Twitter Jail”, whatever that is? I hope I never find out.
Facebook allows for you to have a “page” that you can manage separately and conduct business and create ads. There is a lot of information on the site you work and post on. For me personally, it’s been a challenge figuring out what you can and cannot do out there. Not to mention weaving your way through the chaos to find what you need is a lot like stopping in Time’s Square for a quiet moment.
Instagram really feels like it’s Twitter for pictures. If you are an artist or photographer, it’s perfect for you. For writers, you are sort of limited to small snippets of content, quotes, or to try and master a new skill of combining your work with a great background or photo. It’s really a visual space, and like Twitter you are only at the top for a millisecond, so you need it to pop. All in all, you must put this work in and the sooner you start, the more time you’re allowing to increase followers and keep your brand out there. Remember, that’s what you’re building, a brand. This is where your investment pays off, it’s putting yourself out there and building that name recognition. Treat this like you would any new business, be smart about posting. It’s my recommendation, no matter your political beliefs and religious affiliations, stay away from both. That was good advice when my Mom told me that twenty years ago and it is still good advice today.
Advertising, beware. Once your book comes out, you’re going to get inundated with people and companies trying to sell you services. There are FB, Google, Amazon, and Bookbub Ads. Plus many more I am not even listing, but those are the big ones. There are ones that cater to Twitter and Instagram which are different from those that focus on FB. Don’t go broke chasing Ad space out in this world. They all tell you they have vast audiences from thousands to hundreds of thousands of people they can reach. Understand, reaching is not the same as conversion to a sale. If you have saved money and want to run Ads, try them one at a time so you can judge their performance. Start small and then invest in the one that gets you the most, even if it’s not sales. Maybe it’s followers or people registering for your newsletter.
I know this post is getting long so I will end with this. You need a website and a means to build an email list. Those subscribers are the most likely people to buy your books. That usually means you’ll have to give people a reason to come out to your site. If it’s not your blogging content, then you’ll have to be creative. I have started a newsletter, which will feature other author spotlights, but also include a monthly giveaway. Before you ask an audience to buy something, you must give them something first.
I am still reaching out for my audience, the steps I am taking are small. This is not a breakneck race to the finish line, it’s more a long arduous climb to the top of a mountain peak. Embrace the challenges, be willing to learn new skills, be open to critiques when they come (yes, even from your partner) and have faith that all the hard work you’re putting in will pay off. Don’t give up, and whatever you do, keep writing!