It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You’ve followed along with my posts and carefully considered who your target reader is. You’ve created a fantastic reader avatar and you can see them clearly in your mind. But so far this hasn’t made any difference to your book sales or helped you attract readers.
You’re probably wondering if there’s really any point in having a reader avatar.
Well, wonder no more, because over my next few posts I’m going to show you exactly what to do next.
Finding Real Readers
In my first series of posts for BookWorks, I explored the importance of getting to know your readers—who they are and how you can use what you know about them to help you better market your books.
I showed you how to identify your ideal readers and create a reader avatar, but so far this is an imaginary person.
You may now know who your target readers are, but don’t yet know how or where to find them in the real world, much less how to convert them into fans of your books.
It’s time to turn your attention to an outreach strategy to attract readers, that is, find ways to get in front of your target readers and bring them into your world.
Go Where You’ll Be Seen
If you have successfully identified your ideal reader and maybe even found out where they are hanging out online— the blogs they are reading, podcasts they’re listening to, social media channels they are using—you may still be desperately wondering how to reach them to let them know you and your book exist.
The problem is you are a fellow blog reader or podcast listener, making it almost impossible to share about your book without coming across as spammy or rude. If you’re talking in blog comments, for example, it wouldn’t be appropriate to start talking about your book unless the conversation naturally went that way. And if you’re hoping someone will click your name through to your website to find out more about you, you could be waiting a long time.
You should already know shouting "buy my book" on social media is ineffective and not very social.
When authors do these things, they are thinking too much about pushing their own message, and not enough about growing an authentic author platform.
An authentic platform is one where you attract people to you—through the great content you share—and are willing to give more than you receive.
So if you are to attract readers that you now know where to find online, you need a better strategy than mingling in the blog comments or on social media. You want to position yourself where you can be seen and give something of value so people are keen to find out more—a little like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.
Attract Readers by Leveraging Existing Audiences
So how do you position yourself where you can be seen?
Well, you could start a blog or podcast of your own to share great content and attract readers to you. However, that’s the hard, slow way. Growing an audience for a blog or podcast is just as difficult as building one for a book!
I recommend you leverage those that other people have built instead. If you already know the blogs and podcasts your ideal readers are interested in, pitch yourself as a guest on those.
I’ll go deeper into how to find the right blogs and podcasts and how to get on them in future posts. For now, I simply want to share the idea that the fastest way to attract readers is to leverage other people’s audiences.
Growing your author platform, which will support book sales, is all about improving your visibility and discoverability. By guest posting on other people’s blogs, podcasts, speaking stages and social media channels you can get in front of more target readers, spread the word about you and your book and let more people know you exist.
In short, to attract readers you need an outreach strategy that leverages other people’s audiences. Here is a very simple outline of this process:
- Research blogs, podcasts and social media influencers whose audiences include your target readers
- Pitch yourself as a guest on those blogs and podcasts and connect with social media influencers. (To get started, simply follow them and take note of what they share and what gets the most engagement.)
- Offer something (a reader magnet) to readers/listeners of the blogs/podcasts to move them to your email list.
- Nurture your list!
- Let your list know about your books—make sales and gather reviews!
Know Your End Goal
Is this all easier said than done? Definitely. Is it easier than trying to grow a platform from scratch on your own blog, podcast or Amazon page? Yes, absolutely! Does it mean getting out of your comfort zone, facing possible rejection, talking about yourself and your book, which may feel uncomfortable? Most likely, yes.
Is it worth it? Hell yes.
Over my next few posts, I’m going to talk about guest blogging, getting on podcasts and using social media effectively. You don’t need to use all of these tactics, but choose what feels the best fit for you.
I’ll also be covering email lists. This isn’t an outreach strategy but is what you are trying to grow with your outreach efforts.
You want to keep in touch with the people you find who are interested in you and what you write about. By getting them on to your email list, you have permission to keep in touch with them. Even though email deliverability is going down, it is still the most reliable way to maintain contact with fans.
So, the goal of your outreach strategy is to grow your email list. However, you also want to nurture your email list subscribers once you have them; it’s not all about numbers! That’s what I’ll dig into more in a future post.
So, to get started on your outreach strategy to attract readers, make sure you have done your homework on who your ideal reader is. With that in mind, think about where they may be hanging out online, or how you could get in front of them.
I’m sure you already have lots of questions, and I will aim to answer those in my future posts. For now, here are 3 steps to get you started:
1 - Run a Google search, as well as a search on iTunes, for blogs and podcasts that could be a good fit. Try searching for [your topic + blog]. Put all you find in a spreadsheet or list.
2 - Search for popular people in your niche on social media, especially Twitter and Instagram, Follow them!
3 - If you already have a reader magnet, check to see if it’s still a good fit for your target reader. If you don’t have one, think about what you could give away that would be quick and easy to put together. For example: a sample chapter; a short story; bonus material to your book; a mini e-course; an author interview; a guide, blueprint or cheat sheet (great for nonfiction authors).
If you get stuck, don’t panic. I’ll be back with more very soon!
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