By Amy Collins
So many authors launch their first book (or second) before building a list of readers and fans and THEN start working on attracting readers. They labor under the false idea that they need a book FIRST and then they can start building their readership. I mean, how ELSE do you build a base of fans and readers until you have a book?
Well, Nicole Evelina, the author of The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy did just that. While she was working on her first book she decided to start drawing readers into her online “web.” This self-published author is now so popular with readers that when she has a new book coming out, thousands of rabid fans crash into each other buying her newest release.
So I asked Nicole to share with me:
- What were some of the early steps that she took and found successful to help draw and attract readers?
- How did she get started BEFORE she had a book?
What She Did
The first thing she said was that she blogged frequently long before the first book was out.
She is a writer of historical fiction so, like many novelists, had a lot of research from which to draw for her blog. According to Evelina, only about 1% of the research that she does for any type of book actually ends up in the book because she doesn’t want to bore her readers with all the details and stuff that makes up the backstory and fills the characters personality and experiences.
So for her, a blog was a great outlet for that. And to this day, her most trafficked pages on her website are some of those early posts where she wrote about Celtic life. She wrote blogs about the 12 types of Celtic marriage and another about the weaponry that that the Celts would have used. Another blog covered the way the Celts would cook…
That helped attract people to her that who were interested in historical elements and readers. She found that those interested in what they used to call dark ages, now call early medieval history, were often also interested in Arthurian legend because that’s the time period where it’s set.
She also actively encouraged those readers and blog subscribers to join her online in social media. By doing that on twitter and Facebook, she was able to reach out to friends and connections of her current online buddies. Her reach grew a little each day.
What She Does Now
Just this week, I saw a post by Nicole where she said (in essence) “Hey folks, who’s got a blog, who’s got a newsletter, who can talk about my new book?” It was brilliant, she just ASKED! I watched a TON of people respond by saying YES.
Her book is now in the top 10 of historical fiction because these fans all jumped in and shared the posts, ads and recommendations she asked them to.
Because she has worked so hard to build a group of fans, she had a great response.
What We Should Do Now
We, too, can develop a team of readers who are willing to help us build our careers. This works for big-name authors and self-published authors alike…the key is ATTRACTION. There is no need to pound people over the head with a newsletter or offers to join a private fan group. It needs to be voluntary from readers. These readers/fans need to care about us and love us enough to want to support us.
Don’t be afraid of working this attraction angle…. I know every author out there has other authors that they love. If your favorite author asked you to read an early copy of their next book…. would you be willing to read it and post a review on, on a publication day or be willing to give it away on your blog, or share it on social media? Of course you would! So would your future fans. But they need to be ASKED.
We need to build our own team of fans and readers… even BEFORE our books are out. The reason this works for Nicole is because she is so genuine and real online. She spends 80% or more of her time online sharing truly personal items or asking folks about THEM. She genuinely wants to get to know people. I see her wishing folks happy birthday or offering condolences when somebody’s pet passes away… that’s a human connection, and it’s the stuff that builds fans. What does not work is pushing your book over and over.
You have heard me say this million times over: “Authors are not your competition. They’re your community.”
Join and build your community. If you do not enjoy social media, you have to figure out a way to build your community without it or learn to love it. And if you DO enjoy social media, you will enjoy a great deal of success. This is what it’s all about. Not hiding behind a typewriter or word processor. It’s about getting out there and being part of your community.
There you have it…. You CAN build your readership and fan base before you have a book. Honest. (And, you should!)