You wrote a book – congratulations! Now you go through the labor-intensive steps of smoothing, editing, proofing and perfecting in order to release it to the world. Good job! Next, (and, arguably, already all along this journey) you start to promote said book so that readers will read it and tell other readers. Lost? So are a lot of new authors. But, if you put your marketing cap on, the old axiom of fish where the fish are makes perfect sense.
And please note, if you are a reader, I am by no means calling you fishy, implying you smell like a fish, or have unsightly, bulging eyes. I love readers.
There are a large number of things you can do to help find the elusive reader. The five activities below should get you off to a good start in finding your own good fishing spot in the large lake of available books.
Walk the walk, talk the talk – You are now a fisherman. Believe it. Own it. Don’t be afraid to tell people. Pull on that silly hat with the colorful lures and hooks and smile with pride. And, it wouldn’t hurt to advertize this fact with a website. Can’t afford all the bells and whistles right away? Try a free site – a blog that can be modified with a few pages, or an inexpensive site for $7-10/mo for 5 pages of content. I used intuit to get started – it was easy, affordable, and I was able to secure my own name for the URL. It takes a little time to set up, but it’s important to be out there and searchable as an author.
Select the right the lure — Invest in picking out the right lure for your fish. One of the things that helps is getting reviews. Reviews act as that shiny new hook or colorful lure for the fish to come check out before they bite. Yes, your friends might offer, but what you really want are other readers. Reach out to book bloggers that are open to reviewing your book – always keep in mind you are seeking their honest opinion because you will get it. Target your readers by targeting the bloggers you reach out to. For example, you wouldn’t approach a sci-fi book blogger for a chick lit book (or use a shiner to catch a Blue Gill).
Make sure you are there at feeding time – Where do these readers come together to feed, or find out about what books they want to read next? Social cataloging sites are a good place to build a presence. Goodreads with a reported 10 million members and an estimated 20 million monthly visits is a must. Shelfari and LibraryThing are big, too, but not as big as Goodreads. And there are others such as eBooks (formerly Anobii) in over 20 countries. Book finding sites Bublish, StoryFinds or BookPulse are other ways to digitally connect with readers. Set up your author profile, add your books, run giveaways, get into the group conversations or create fun quizzes for your readers. Engage!
Try several fishing spots – Be Social! The more social you can be the better – as long as it doesn’t take away too much time from writing time. Set up a Facebook page – separate from your personal one – and be active. If you haven’t already – start a blog! Use Twitter and start tweeting – but don’t only tweet about asking people to buy your book – be social by offering informational content. It also serves as a way to cross promote and help out others – tweet about good blogs, share bloggers reviews to help them gain a following. Book finding sites above and other social marketing tools include Tumbler, Pinterest, or content marketing sites like SlidesShare (see my post on Slidecasts). Be available to interact with readers and you will gain fans. The point is to be found and go viral.
Be patient. Very, very patient. The funny thing about fishing is you need a lot of patience. But, if you go to the right places, and use the right lure for your particular fish, they will start biting. One can hope for a feeding frenzy, but that is not the norm.
Employing these five activities will, most likely over time, provide the platform and help you become more adept at finding the right spots, which lures work best, and get an earlier start to catching those unsuspecting fish, er, readers.