Finding your book’s ideal audience and the people who are influential with that group is a core piece of marketing, but many authors struggle with where to even begin. Dan Blank of WeGrowMedia is here with practical, actionable steps to show you how to build relationships that will help you immeasurably down the road.
Today I want to talk about why you need to begin developing your audience for your book as early as possible. Then I want to share practical steps you can take each day to do this, even amidst an otherwise busy life.
This comes from the methodology I share in my new book, Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. I frame the process as crafting a gateway that leads people to your writing, opening the gate to your ideal readers, and then leading them through your gateway in meaningful ways. It is a process filled with joy, not spammy marketing tactics.
It takes time to understand who your ideal readers are, how to connect with them, and develop trusting relationships with those who already have their attention. This sets the foundation for what all authors want: word of mouth marketing.
Let’s establish a process for you to find what will engage your ideal audience Here are three steps I want you to take:
Study Your Marketplace
Know the marketplace your book will be a part of better than anyone. Here is the process I just went through with one of my clients who writes fiction:
Throughout this process, you will move from having only a vague understanding of your marketplace, to knowing every comparable book, why they engage readers, how they developed an audience, and the names and faces of those who are advocates of books like yours.
This is a daily and weekly research process. Take simple actions each day to develop this. In the beginning, you may feel confused, even frustrated. I encourage you to persist through that. Because that is where the magic is.
Most authors skip this research, and around book launch, they are left hoping that their book magically finds readers.
At the end of each week, write down one new thing you learned about your audience from your research. After a few months what you will find is that your understand the marketplace surrounding your book better than nearly any other author. Imagine what it will feel like to have that kind of awareness and certainty when developing a launch plan for your next book.
Test Your Messaging
Your voice is the most powerful tool you have to truly develop an audience and engage people in a meaningful way. Not an app, not a button, not some “social media hack.” By your voice: I mean your writing, your actual voice, or any way that you meaningfully share your creative vision with others.
In the past several years, authors have been told to create websites, email newsletters, blogs, book trailers, podcasts, and use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and so much else. An artist I spoke to last week told me that she keeps having people tell her:
Bleh. Nobody wants this. Not you, and not the audience you hope to engage. Instead, what if, as you study your marketplace in the steps I listed above, you began slowly engaging with some of these people. Not by broadcasting spammy Tweets about your book, but via direct messages as two people who are passionate about the same kinds of books.
In doing so, learn what engages people. What feels right for you to say to others that gets them to lean in and want to chat?
There are two ways to do this:
Developing your voice is a practice. I know, your vision may be confident, and the voice you have with your friends may feel unwavering and clear. But to a marketplace of readers, it takes time to develop, to gain clarity, and for you to understand why things resonate.
In this process of studying the marketplace and testing what resonates, focus on developing relationships with those who are as passionate about books as you are.
This should be a daily practice of coming together with others in celebration of books, stories, and the passion that made you become an author in the first place.
Dan Blank is the author of Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. He is also the founder of WeGrowMedia, where he helps writers and creative professionals share their stories and grow their audience.
He has worked with hundreds of individuals and amazing organizations who support creative people, such as Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Sesame Workshop, Workman Publishing, J. Walter Thompson, Abrams Books, Writers House, The Kenyon Review, Writer’s Digest, Library Journal, and many others. You can find Dan on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Have a question for Dan on finding & connecting with your book’s audience or influencers? Let us know in the comments!
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