It’s Important to Build Relationships
Your work should not be about finding readers, but about building relationships.
I realize that going from one to 10,000 readers and saying things like, Oh, you’ve got to build relationships is a tiny bit obscure. Maybe it’s a little bit more than a tiny bit obscure, but just focus on that person to person connection and creating that relationship with your reader.
So let me give you an example. Amy and I have been working together for nine years and she’s amazing, but I also value her opinion. So one day she mentioned “Penny, you should get a Peloton bike.” And I did – and never regretted it. Five years ago, you didn’t really see them anywhere. Peloton only had to sell Amy on her bike.
But Amy got one and she said: Oh my gosh, this is amazing, this bike is awesome. So Peloton didn’t have to sell me, they just had to sell Amy.
Many Books are Sold by Word of Mouth
95% of books are sold word of mouth. So, I’ve actually picked up books that were recommended to me.
The key here is I was recommended a book from someone whose opinion I value and I’m going to take a chance on that.
And of course it helped that she gifted me one – but that doesn’t always have to be the case.
So you only have to sell one reader, now how can you do that?
Networking is a Must
So the first piece is, is that you have to network.
I know social networking is a time suck and a lot of authors tell me: Oh, I’m on all these social networking sites and I don’t really know what’s going on. And I don’t feel like I’m getting a lot of love.
And I’m going to tell you from personal experience, I’ve also really struggled with this and we’re a marketing company. Because where do you invest your time?
What do we do with Facebook & Social Media?
So we had a Facebook Business Page, we had a bunch of followers, and we get some love there. But when I started using my personal Facebook page as an outreach to authors directly, and not marketing, just sharing funny stuff, and staying really focused on building that one to one personal connection with my reader, that page took off.
I have some stuff that I share on there that I get an excess of a thousand shares on a post.
If you’re on every single social media site, I really recommend focusing on one. Especially if you’re just kind of a one person show and you’re trying to do all this on your own.
With social media, it’s not about being everywhere, it’s just about being everywhere that matters.
Focus on one site and then when you know what site you’re going to focus on, find four tracks (at the most five) of things that you want to share. So the one track obviously is going to be book stuff.
So whenever you have a book discount or you launched a book, that falls into the book track. The next track might be funny memes or something related to your topic. If you’ve read romance, maybe you want to have like shirtless Tuesday.
If you stay with those four tracks, then everything that you do becomes really focused and it speaks to your reader.
So create a consistency, which is important and you create a reader connection because whatever those four tracks are for you, they have to matter to your reader because you want them to share your content.
Everything is Your Brand
Yeah, and that’s a really good segue into remembering that everything is your brand.
Everything that you have out there, every font you use for any of your images, thoughts on your website, social media sites, things you share. Absolutely everything is your brand.
Those little touches, they really do stand out. They might not seem like a big deal when you look at them individually, but when you put them all together, the impression that they leave is so important.
And remember that readers want to engage with somebody that looks like they’ve put a lot of thought and effort into what they’re putting out there, how they’re connecting with readers.
You have to really figure out what your author persona is. Figure out what you stand for and what your brand is as an author.
And let your personality come through. I think a lot of authors sadly end up assuming that their book is the only interesting thing they have going on, and that really shouldn’t be the case.
Your personality really should come through in your brand, whether it’s including personal quotes or behind the scenes stuff.
All these little things that you think nobody wants to hear, you have to retrain your brain, change your internal dialogue, and really use the best parts of your personality, and turn that into something you can use on social and to connect with readers.
Ways to Connect with Readers
Goodreads did a study a number of years ago and found that the number one thing readers want to do when they get to the end of the book, is connect with the author.
And so what we’re discussing are ways to create that connection to build and foster that connection. Because much like the Peloton example, you only have to sell one person.
Now granted one person may not net you 10,000 books sales. Although I find that if you find that one person they know more people, obviously and maybe they want to buy your book, too.
It sounds like a lot of work because to some degree it is, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lot of money. So, would you rather dump $1,000 on Facebook ads and hope for the best, or focus on creating a relationship with your reader and really building that rapport?
Building the Connection
First, you have to build readers and you have to get readers to contact you.
One way to do that is by putting a letter in the back of your book.
A personal letter thanking the reader for reading and spending time with you and then inviting them to contact you and ask them for their input on your book.
The second you start communicating with your reader, this person becomes part of your book laboratory. As you’re trying to figure out where the next book is going to go, or what the next book in the series will be.
Many of my books have greatly improved because readers have been kind enough to reach out to me and say look, I liked the book but I really wish you would have done X, Y, Z. Take that to heart.
And as you start to build your tribe, and as those readers start to contact you. You will build your mailing list and that starts your one-to-one reader connection.
These are not super expensive strategies, but the quality is there. So that’s another great reason to take these to heart, always work on anything you can for free -never skip the free stuff.
Goodreads is a good one. It’s easy to find people that are interested in your genre and dedicated to reading the kind of books that you write.
Getting involved on Goodreads and being an active participant in these conversations with other people that also like to read the books that you write is really important.
Engage with Other Authors
Remember to engage with the authors that you like to read. Yes, you can find out some cool stuff that they’re doing marketing wise and kind of learn from them, but also take a moment to allow yourself to just be a reader and a fan.
I think when you start thinking about what you should do for your readers and playing on both teams, it’s really important.
Get Involved Locally
There are local book groups and in most cities they have seasonal and community events that happen and meeting a local author.
Anytime I see that a local author is doing something nearby, I always go to the event because it’s so cool that people still do this.
So start doing things locally, start small, even if you’ve never done an event before. Talk to your library, you can maybe get involved in something with a few other authors. Making that face to face connection with readers is huge.
Don’t be boring with your website content. You know, we work with some fabulous authors that we get to have great conversations with, and then we’d go to their website and it’s a bit of a disconnect. Their website is not nearly as cool as the author is.
It’s like we get stuck on this idea that we have to be super professional and this is what a professional website looks like, and it loses the personality. I think a lot of authors don’t have enough fun with that, with the personality aspect of what they do.
It’s creative and take advantage of that. When it comes to emphasizing what your brand is and what you’re about, don’t get stuck in this little box of “this is what I have to put on my website”. Have fun with it.
Ask your Readers some Questions
One thing that I really love doing is, ask a question of your readers, your followers, and maybe it’s a question that you already know the answer to, but you’re just seeking their participation.
For example, I could ask something around marketing or anything related to a topic that I teach on consistently, but ask your followers a question. Regardless of whether or not it’s something that you actually need to know or something that you just want to get their feedback on, you will be amazed at the response you get.
Getting people involved is a great way to build a relationship with your reader.
The idea of a giveaway always sounds like a good idea, but then, I think the logistics of it get a little scary unless it’s something that you do all the time.
We’ve got a set process for it now. We pretty much operate like a well-oiled machine, but it took us a little bit to make sure we had everything ready to go.
People like to get something in return for their time. We’ve done so well with BOGOs, which we do buy one, give one. So you’re getting more books in hands, which is a great way again, to have people that are already following you, introduce your work to someone else that they know.
Passion sells, people love to buy things from people who are passionate. And I love book marketing, I love talking about it. I love learning new things.
Readers vibe with authors who are really passionate about their topic. Start to build your relationships as opposed to focusing on readers.
Hopefully you will soon get to number 10,000!
Resources and Free Downloads
Please use the social share buttons below if you learned something from this post – your shares really help educate other authors, which raises the bar for publishing and gets more books in readers hands!