Building Your Readership
by Mindy Obenhaus
You’ve worked for years, honing your craft and, finally, you’ve received that seemingly elusive book contract. You get a publication date. You tell everyone you know about your upcoming release. You blast the cover across your social media accounts. You do some guests posts for blogging friends. Maybe a podcast. But will it be enough?
Let me pause here to say that I’m coming at this from a traditionally published viewpoint. I’m not tech savvy, nor am I familiar with all that’s out there. These are just some things I’ve learned along the way. But the one thing I do know is that the number one way to build your readership is to get your book into the hands of readers.
Building a readership is like building a friendship. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, nurturing and patience. Trust has to be built. If a reader likes your first book, they’re more apt to pick up the next one. More importantly, they might tell someone else about your book and word of mouth is a powerful thing. Anyone remember the shampoo commercial back in the 70s that showed the power of telling two friends? Then they told two friends, and so on. But in order for them to do that, the first one has to read your book. Which leads me back to my previous point...
The number one way to build your readership is to get your book into the hands of readers. As many as possible.
How do you do that?
Launch Teams – I’ll admit that I’m new to the world of launch teams. But when life went wonky right before my most recent book released, my relatively small team stood in the gap for me. They stepped in and flooded social media in my stead. For me, the purpose of a launch team is to make people aware of my books by creating buzz and leaving reviews. The burden is always lighter when we have others to help us carry it.
Giveaways – Giveaway a book to one lucky newsletter subscriber. Do a Flash Giveaway on one of your social media outlets. You specify a cutoff time and have them leave a comment to be entered. Yes, people like to receive free books, but you might end up with some new fans as a result.
Promotions and Virtual Book Tours – Things like Booksweeps list builder promos are a good way to get the ball rolling. They’re relatively inexpensive and you’re usually giving away digital copies of your book.
If you can afford it, I recommend some sort of tour through a company like JustRead Publicity Tours. And I’m not just saying that because Carrie and Beth are a part of this blog, but because I know from personal experience. Many reviews have said, “This was a new-to-me author, but I look forward to her next book.” Would they have picked up my book otherwise? Who knows? But I’ve gained many new readers as a result of their campaigns.
No matter what you choose to do to build readership, the goal is to--say it with me--get your book into the hands of readers. That’s why you’ll often see digital books priced under $2 on Amazon. Publishers know it works and so do indy authors. Folks will buy 99 cent books all day long. And they sometimes find a new favorite author.
When was the last time you found a new-to-you author who quickly became a favorite? Authors, if you have some tips for building readership, please chime in. In keeping with my advice, I’m giving away a copy of my new release, Loving the Rancher’s Children, to one lucky commentor. Simply leave a comment to be entered. If you comment as Anonymous, please leave your name in the comment. (US mailing addresses, choice of print or ebook. International, ebook only)
Best-selling author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com