You’ve been plugging away, day after day, trying to build the fan base you know your work deserves, but it’s not going the way you’d pictured when you started out. It’s like you’ve tried everything under the sun (including blogging, tweeting, and participating in promotion after promotion), but you can’t find passionate readers for your work.
It’s not that your book isn’t any good (you and your editor spent tons of time making sure it is) and it’s not that readers are uninterested in your genre (your author friends are selling books by the truckload).
Perhaps the problem is that your message simply isn’t connecting with readers on a personal level. Your tweets, blogs, and e-mails aren’t convincing them to check out your work.
It’s a problem I see quite often, and I’ve even given it a name: Superstar Author Syndrome. That might sound a bit backward, since you’re not (yet) on any sort of author walk of fame, but hear me out.
Authors with SAS commonly have an issue connecting with readers because their blogs, social media updates, and promotional materials sound too vague, almost corporate. There’s nothing personal or engaging for a potential reader to “hook” onto and remember.
That’s because those of us in charge of our own book promotion may be modeling our communications on our big-name brethren, most of whom have entire PR teams crafting those blog posts and whatnots for them. For Stephen King or James Patterson, using that impersonal, third-person speak in their website, tweets, or blogs may be entirely appropriate.
But for those of us trying to build a grassroots following, it’s a one-way ticket to obscurity.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to inject life into your marketing efforts.
Narrow your target
To find the perfect balance between professionalism and personality, craft your messages with just one crazy-dedicated fan in mind.
This may seem counterintuitive. After all, you’re probably trying to attract as many readers as possible. Won’t targeting a single reader exclude thousands of others who are nothing like that person?
Surprisingly, narrowing your promotional focus in this way helps you better connect with more readers by giving you (1) focus and (2) direction.
When you tailor your marketing decisions to one person, you’ll attract a wider variety of readers because your communications will sound far more personal and engaging. You’ll sound like a real human being having a conversation with folks who love your book.
Targeting one reader helps you find marketing direction. Trying to figure out where to spend your limited book promotion time can be overwhelming and confusing, but having a unique person to center your marketing decisions around makes this task much easier. Instead of trying to figure out what appeals to everyone in your target market, you’ll be able to ask a single person. And it’s a lot easier to figure out what appeals to one person than thousands, right?
3 steps to create a No. 1 fan profile
Here’s how to craft a reader profile (kind of like a character profile) that will uncover your biggest fan. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong answer here. If you’ve met a few of your readers, base your profile on one of those folks. If you’re just starting out, simply imagine someone you think would love your work. And if that’s too difficult, but you’re a fan of your genre of work, answer the questions as yourself.
1. Picture someone reading your book and devouring every single word. Someone who’s dreading the book coming to an end.
2. Describe the person you see just like she’s a character in your book. If you have a preferred character profiling method, you may use that, or you may choose to answer the following questions:
Where is she reading your book? Describe the setting. Is she at home, on a train or out in the park? Is she in a chair, a bed, the bath?
How did she find your book? Is she reading an e-book or a paperback?
Fill in her personal details. What’s her name? Where does she live? How old is she? What does she look like?
3. While continuing to picture your No. 1 fan, think of two or three ways to connect with that person. Think about the following:
How does she choose books? Does she search for new titles on her own or follow the recommendations of her friends or family?
Where does she hang out online? Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, blogs? What about offline? Is she in a book club? Does she have a favorite bookstore?
What are her other hobbies and interests? Are there any ways you can use those to reach out to other readers like her?
Now that you have a basic profile of your No. 1 fan, feel free to spend a bit more time fleshing it out. The more detailed your reader profile, the more effective it will be for helping you make those difficult marketing decisions.
The next time you craft a tweet, write a blog post, send an e-mail, or share an update on Facebook, think about your biggest fan and the profile you created. What type of content would she want to read (and share)? What wording would appeal to her? What promotion would she gladly take part in?
The answers of your biggest fan are sure to connect you with others just like her.
In the comments, let’s hear about your No. 1 fan. Do any of her characteristics surprise you? How will you use your reader profile to better focus your book marketing and promotional efforts?