Let me show you the reason for me taking this position, as well as a real-life example of how I helped one of my clients become a bestseller in the first week after launch, mostly due to adapting my strategy for early marketing. But finish reading this post first, then come back and watch. It’ll connect everything for you!
As you’ll hear him explain when you come back to watch it, I told him how to grow his following/tribe and sell more books:
• post early in the writing process
• post regularly (at least once a day)
• talk about things you love to do
• sprinkle little mentions of the book you’re writing
• slowly increase talk about your book as your follow interest grows
By following this advice AND adding a bit of his own spice and creativity, not only did Kota’s videos go viral, increasingly, his followers began demanding updates about his book! And when he combined his niche topic (verbally dressing down his fake toxic family members who were hassling him with the wittiest retorts I’ve ever heard) with the reveal of his book’s cover…it was bananas!
Kota’s book released May 4 to massive book orders, great reviews, and before the week was over, he had already made the Bestseller List on Amazon!
I tell you this mostly to show you, even before we dig into the how and why, that not only do I know what I’m talking about here, I’ve proven it time and time again by teaching my clients this very tactic.
But why start so early when I have only written one chapter?
There are several reasons.
For these reasons, it should be clear to any author that waiting until the last minute to build and grow your following is not only going to be stressful, it’s just plain counterintuitive.
How do I actually build my audience, then?
• Taking your book’s category and genre into account, identify your TRUE Read Avatar!
• Do everything necessary to establish YOU as a brand, not your book (or books)!
• Establish your online presence immediately as soon as you begin writing!
• Build your brand identity around what interests you the most, be relatable, and do not “pimp” your books!
• Learn EVERYTHING you can about business, marketing, and social media!
• Their age range
• Their gender/orientation
• Their basic demographics
• Their home/family life
• What compels them to buy products
• Why they will be drawn to your book
• Why they will read and love your book
• Any expectations they may have regarding plotlines, characters, endings, etc.
You can even draw a picture of what they may look like or grab a picture from online and save it in your document to make the Avatar seem more realistic to you.
Doing this whole exercise, though it seems sort of silly, will provide you with crucial information you will use when you are writing your book, as well as designing your marketing campaign.
Another mistake many authors make comes when they try to build a brand for their book or books. That’s the very first (and biggest) mistake! And it is the answer to the question on thousands of authors’ minds every day (and I hear it on every LIVE event).
And definitely do not try to build your brand around just ONE book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to conventions, conferences, and book fairs and seen author booths where the banners, table covers, and all the swag are SO PRETTY but they are all focused on the one book the author is currently trying to sell. To put it plainly, authors who do this are wasting their valuable time and their hard-earned money because they will have to create branding media, websites, banners, and swag all over again, each time they write a book. Beyond that, you’re building a temporary fanbase filled ONLY with those who are interested in that one, singular book. It’s counterintuitive.
Instead, build your brand around YOU – the author – that will appeal to a much wider audience AND will be more sustainable in the long run because, once readers find you, and they begin to recognize your work through your branding images, colors, fonts, voice, and message, they will be ten times more loyal to you and will stay with you for as long as you keep writing great books for them.
Start Your Online Presence Right NOW!
Anytime an author asks me, either during a LIVE event or a consultation or client session, how they can get more followers online so they can sell more books, I ask them when they started building their online presence. Without fail, they either tell me they JUST started posting, or they stare back at me with deer-in-the-headlights eyes. And either way, I have the same advice for them, which goes something like this.
I think that explains the “WHY” behind starting your online presence as soon as you can. But what all does that entail? Well, to effectively build and grow your brand and reach as many of your “people” as you can, you must always do follow this steps as soon as you begin writing and have committed yourself to this process.
• Buy a domain (and email box) on Google Domains for $12 a year that includes your name (or pen name).
• Build an author website using Wix.com that focuses on you, your vision, your stories, and why you write them.
• Set up a newsletter and email marketing account on MailerLite.com so people can sign up to read your newsletter 1-2 times per month.
• Create a lead magnet (freebie) and add a form to your home page where people can sign up fast and easy to receive your newsletter AND get something free!
• Create BUSINESS accounts on 2- 3 of the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Then add 1 of the following platforms: Pinterest, YouTube, Tik Tok and begin posting immediately!
There is so much more that goes into these steps, but each one would require its own post to properly lay it all out for you. Some are already in my blog, like this one on How to Use Tik Tok to Sell More Books! If there are any topics I have not YET covered in there, do your research online but make sure you only take advice from those who are qualified, experienced, and trustworthy.
Grow Your Brand Identity
By this time, you should have already identified your True Reader Avatar and you know that your brand and marketing efforts MUST be focused on YOU, not just your writing. Now, it’s time to BUILD that brand and increase your exposure, which will inevitably lead to more interest in your books at launch time!
And doing this is not anywhere near as hard as you might think. If you read this post with an open mind, bookmark this page for future reference, and do your best to start these things earlier than you thought you should, I can promise that, by the time you launch your book, you’ll have more engaged followers, subscribers, and future readers waiting with bated breath to read your book!
It’s so important to put “your story” out there for everyone to see, warts and all. People in general, especially readers, who tend to be a bit more in touch with their emotions, find it much easier to relate to a PERSON than it is for them to relate to an inanimate PRODUCT, like your book. They’re also way more likely to buy things (including books) when you can connect with them on a more emotional level.
That’s why you really need to put plenty of thought into deciding what parts of your life you’re willing to share and what you want to keep private. Of the things you think you could share, pick one event from your backstory about which you can say things like “I’m stronger now because of that” or “I learned ______ from that.” Preferably, something more people can relate to. That’s your “story.”
Now that you know what story you’re going to share as part for overarching brand, you don’t have to “dump” it all at once on your tribe. Instead, share a little each time you create content (social posts, newsletters, video posts) so that, over time, your audience learns the REAL you (as much as you will let them know) but not be overwhelmed by too much info at once.
Here are things to keep in mind as you share your story in your content:
• Start posting/sharing/sending emails as soon as you begin writing, don’t wait!
• Share only what makes you slightly uncomfortable but doesn’t expose you to ridicule!
• When you create content, also share something you are passionate about (aside from writing) and showcase it in your feed!
• Slowly start dropping little hints about the book you’re writing and fit it into your content about your story and your passion!
• Never, ever try to push your book onto your tribe (don’t use words like “buy my book!”)!
• Let your tribe get used to the idea of the book and let their curiosity grow!
• When you finally get to pre-launch (about 6-8 weeks before), you will then start focusing more on your book, its cover, release date, etc.!
Trust me when I say, sticking to the above parameters WILL not only grow your audience as you spend time focusing on your writing, it will naturally pique their interest, and before long, no matter what you post about (your dog, your scrapbooking, your woodworking…), followers will start asking, “Tell me about your book!” and “When does it release?” If you don’t believe anything else I ever tell you, believe this.
Learn All You Can About Marketing Your Book
This one will be short and sweet because, as I’ve said many times before, I am (and have never claimed to be) a marketing expert. There are plenty of book marketing gurus out there who know TONS more than I do. But I do have real-life, firsthand experience in marketing my own books and my business, so I know what works and what doesn’t.
The most important piece of advice I can give you on this coincides with everything I try to teach my tribe every day. And it goes like this.
You must treat your novel writing like a business because it is a business. It’s the most popular, most fun, and most creative type of small business you could ever get into.
So, if you treat your novel writing like a business, that means you can’t rely on me or any other expert or professional in our community to have ALL the answers. We have a lot, but not one of the amazing influencers and experts I’ve met the past two years is or ever claims to know ALL the answers to EVERY aspect of self-publishing.
Therefore, as an AUTHORPRENEUR, you absolutely must educate yourself in the following aspects that come with any business:
• Online Marketing
• Social Media
• Product Launch
But that does not mean you are alone. I’ll wrap this one up by reminding you that I am here for you and I’m always just one mouse click away.
If you need help learning how to get even better at the craft of writing a novel, guidance through the self-publishing journey, or anything else that relates to writing, publishing, and launching your best book, here’s how you can find me.