by Karen Dodd May 6, 2013
On my Facebook author’s page, I recently posed two questions to my followers:
- What is your number one question or challenge with regard to building your author platform?
- Are you still writing your WIP or do you have a published book?
I was thrilled with the feedback. It was about a 50/50 split of published versus not; comments ranged from concerns about not having a specific platform strategy, to confusing social media with platform (social media is only one part of it).
However, by far the most pressing question, from both published and as-yet unpublished authors was this: How do I find potential readers for my work?
It would appear that there is a tremendous amount of information on the Internet about finding and engaging with other writers but not so much about how to find your most likely and devoted readers.
“Wait,” you say. “Writers are readers!”
Yes, that’s true but how can you quickly and easily find people who are looking to read and review your book now? Where can you locate readers who are interested in snippets of your work in progress (WIP)?
It would be so nice if they would just pop up online with little sticky notes on their foreheads saying, I’m a potential reader! Sadly, they don’t.
3 Top Tips to Locate Your Ideal Readers
- Facebook and Twitter: Piggyback on successful authors’ followers.
I know, I felt a little “icky” about this at first, as well. Likewise, following other people’s Twitter lists. I felt it was a little like stealing my best friend’s address book and phoning everyone saying, “Be my friend…puleeze!”
By following this tip you are simply connecting with other like-minded individuals and giving them the option of following or friending you back. They are often quite pleased to have more “likes,” follows or friends. But for goodness sake, don’t stalk them!
Pick a favorite author in your genre, and find and follow them. Perhaps you compare yourself to thriller writer, Patricia Cornwell (don’t be bashful; just don’t say that in your query to an agent or editor!)
The reality is that Cornwell has over half a million followers on each site but look for people who regularly engage with her and follow or friend them. But be strategic; hover on their profiles and select just ten people to start, who really interest you.
Bonus: many of them will follow you back, especially if you send a personal message telling them that you too are a fan of that particular author and genre.
You can employ the same principle by searching both Facebook and Twitter, using key words or phrases that readers of your genre might use. You can do this to find individuals or groups, many of whom could be your ideal readers.
2. Connect With Passionate Readers on Goodreads.
No doubt you’re already a member or have heard a lot about this formerly privately run “social cataloging” website. Recently purchased by Amazon, Goodreads is the largest site for readers and book recommendations in the world.
The trouble is most writers and authors don’t really know how to use it. Let’s be honest, at this point in time it is not the most intuitive or easily navigated site. Even if you’ve been on Goodreads for some time, you are very likely missing out on some valuable benefits for authors.
The best resource I have come across that uncovers Goodread’s hidden potential and gives you step-by-step instructions is a recent blog post by Kimberley Grabas.
The key points Kimberley covers that you should start using right away are:
- Creating your Author Profile as opposed to your reader profile
- Being strategic by keeping interests centered and relevant to your genre
- How to give reviews and ask for your own, tastefully and authentically
- What to add to your website or blog to coax more reviews
- Here is the best tip of all: **Are you are a writer without a published book? Find out how you can post your writing by genre for other members to read and review**
3. Start (or Re-Invent) Your Blog.
The number one mistake I see aspiring authors make is saying that they don’t have anything to blog about.
Here’s my tough-love answer to that: Then you have no business thinking of being an author! Think about it. What if you felt that way about your WIP? You’d never write…right?
Blogging is without a doubt one of the best ways of becoming known and getting your writing out into the world. It takes a little effort but it’s virtually free!
I guarantee that you do have something to write about but you need to be consistent and strategic in your blog posts. Unless your writer’s voice is one of postulating on the quirks and quarks of everyday life, you should choose your strongest area of interest or expertise and write everything geared to that topic.
For example, I rarely write anything that isn’t specific to creating your author platform. There is a ton of other things to write about for authors but there is also a ton of other people writing about all those things. You don’t want to be like everyone else, so find and capitalize on your Unique Point of Difference (UPOD).
Here is what I don’t recommend that you blog about and that is your WIP. I wouldn’t suggest putting bits of your writing or the trials and tribulations about your work into your blog posts. However, you might want to concentrate on a particular aspect of writing and specialize in that concept. An example of that could be strategies you’ve found useful in the creative process (like mind-mapping, outlining, creating extensive character profiles, etc.)
The Key to Using These Tips
Make no mistake, whether it is the tips I have just shared with you or anything else you are doing to build your author’s platform and ultimately your readership, the key is to use the mediums available to you, authentically.
None of these should be used as your personal marketing program. Please don’t shout, “Buy my book!” to perfect strangers. Or even to new Facebook and Twitter friends whom you’ve come to know.
Take the time to engage and contribute first. I call it my “give, give, GET” philosophy and it will eventually pay off in spades – plus you’ll have a lot more fun doing it!
Have you discovered a great way of finding your ideal readers, online or off? Why not share it? I’d love to hear from you. Please click here to comment.
Article written by Karen Dodd
Author / Columnist, Entrepreneurial Woman Magazine
Notice: This article is copyrighted material. Reproduction of brief snippets of this article with a link to this site are permitted, but it may not be reproduced in full anywhere without the written permission of Karen Dodd at KarenDodd.com
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