What are fans and how do I reach them? Let’s define fans as coming in these three flavors:
1) Rabid – Buys every book and begs for more; subscribes to your newsletter; shares all your Facebook posts; brags about your book in Goodreads forums
2) Core – Bought your most recent, but not your first; subscribes to your newsletter; commented on a Facebook post; once mentioned you on Goodreads
3) Casual – wrote a nice review; friended you on Facebook; re-Tweeted you once
You’re nobody until you file a restraining order. Let’s go after those rabid fans!
How you gain rabid fans depends on where you are in the hierarchy of writers. So let’s pick a couple unscientific mileposts:
Hugh Howey – Posted 35 minutes ago about the Chelsea-PSG game and has seven comments; posted a pic of his game tix 4 hours ago, now has 82 likes and 25 comments.
Seeley James – Posted a cactus flower (humble-bragging about spring in AZ just to piss off engage Canadians and Northeasterners)* seven days ago and finally rose to 16 likes and 12 comments.
Conclusion: I ain’t no Hugh Howey. If I copy Mr. Howey’s social media plan, I will be a lonely author. I need to do something different.
Your best marketing tool is your written work. Your second best is your blog.
YOUR WORST MARKETING TOOL IS SOCIAL MEDIA. Allow me to rant for a moment: Social media is not a marketing tool. It is a communications system – just like the telephone.
Would you call distant acquaintances and say, “Buy my book”? Would you call those same people and say, “Check out my new cover”? But you might call people and say, “You gotta buy this great book by Seeley James.” (Hey. You might … it’s possible.)
More likely, you would call people and say, “You love Gothic cathedrals too? I just toured the National Cathedral in Washington.”
Marketing is about attracting people.
It’s a little like gardening. Plant nice flowers, tend them, wait until they bloom, and people will discover your garden. Don’t show off the garden the day after tilling, and don’t start crowing about an undeveloped blog.
How should you find those rabid readers?
If you’re just starting: Focus on your blog.
Your blog should be based on the intersection of: Your writing, your interests, your readers. If you write historical mysteries, and your fans like medieval architecture, blogging about Gothic cathedrals makes sense. Blogging about astrophysics does not. Blogging about the real Illuminati makes sense, while current events does not.
What if you don’t have any readers? Find forums/topics where you can contribute, participate, ask questions, and pay attention to the unanswered questions. Remember the adage: God gave you two ears and one mouth so you could listen twice as much as you speak.
If you’re established and looking to grow: Look at your email list, ask yourself: are they my readers? Or am I attracting casual fans? Your blog should speak to your readers, the ones who have the potential to go rabid.
Measuring Success: Count only your blog comments and your email subscribers. Likes, shares, and re-tweets mean nothing. People who opted-in to read your posts is what matters. When you see them independently share your posts, you have a core fan.
If you’re just building a blog, heed the 10 Commandments of Blogging that I stumbled across years ago.
Next week: Eeyore versus Tigger – Make Marketing Fun.
* Between late-April and early-October, my only weather posts are when I travel to places like Vancouver or London.