By Judith Briles
I live in Colorado. Besides being a beautiful state with seasons that can combine drama and eye candy … it’s a mecca for fans of just about any sport you can imagine. If the Rockies baseball team has a run at the World Series, the town wears and talks purple to support the team color. When the Broncos football team is playing, a sea of orange and blue can be seen throughout the state. When the COMSAT ice hockey team’s debut was announced, fans erupted so loudly that the name was immediately changed to Colorado Avalanche, feeding the sports fan.
Yes, fans matter … and as an author, you want them to starting sprouting. The question is: How do you create fans who will travel miles, sit in any kind of weather, pay whatever you price a book (or service) at … just to see you or read your words?
Meet the Super Fan … someone who is a book reader and will:
- Enthusiastically pre-order anything you announce is “coming.”
- Broadcast your name, your titles and your events to anyone within their radar.
- Not just suggest—tell any and all within their range to buy your book.
- Defend you in social media from those who aren’t fans.
- Add to your book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
- Reveal who they are and share their email and/or contact information with you.
- Gladly join any marketing effort you ask for help with—both online and in person.
- Tell everybody to buy your book.
- Provide “social proof” that you are the real deal and that others should become Super Fans as well.
- Buy anything you write or speak about including audiobooks and videos.
In other words, the Super Fan is the secret sauce to your marketing efforts that can soar your success factor. Imagine them as your personal team of ninjas whose responsibility is to defend, protect and boast about you.
Basically, when you set out to develop and build Super Fans, you create a cult of sorts. You are “the one” that they are dedicated/devoted to. Whatever your words are, they think you are the cat’s meow. Whew, heading stuff. And wouldn’t you love it?
How powerful can that be to your author success quotient? Money and sales are a key factor. If over this next year, you focus on building a Super Fan base of 2,000 Super Fans and produce one book a year using Amazon as your primary seller for a book that sells for $18.95 and Amazon pays you a net $8.52 (45% of $18.95 if you sell your book via the Amazon Advantage portal)—that’s $17,040 in revenues; double the books or the Super Fans count and you increase your revenues to $34,080.
That’s online sales. What about personal appearances? Signing events and/or speaking events that would bring more Super Fans and definitely more book buyers. If you did 40 events per year with an average of 40 books sold at each event, you would bring in another $30,320 (40 x 40 x $18.95) if your events are at a book store and you supply them directly. If brought in via a distributor or traditional publisher, the amount to you will be less. But, if you set up the event with a private group, or a speaking gig, the amounts could be higher.
Am I stretching here? Nope. Can you do 40 speaking events a year and sell an average of 40 books at each of them? Sure—but you have to book the events, be engaging and compelling with a call to action for nonfiction and awesome storytelling for fiction to get the buyers to the table.
Which, by the way, will generate far more than the average author makes (who sells an average four to six books at a store event). The tipping point is dual: the gathering, feeding and growing of Super Fans and speaking on your books and expertise.
Finding Your Super Fan
Before you can build your base of Super Fans, you need to discover the Super Readers. If you had on your FBI (find book idol) hat and decided to do a little profiling, you need to know what a Super Reader is. He or she looks like:
- Responsible for almost 50 percent of all print book buying and 60 percent of all eBook buying
- Buys one book per week
- Gobbles up any book in their genre of choice, usually consuming more than what just one publishing house or author produces
- Mostly women (62 percent)
- Over half (55 percent) work full time
- Willing to buy self and indie publishing books
- Household income ranges from $50,000 to $75,000 per year
In other words, Super Readers salivate over and devour books. It is estimated that there is a pot of 16,000,000 Super Readers in the U.S. alone. And your “holy grail” is in their midst. Your Super Fans are out there, ready for you to find them.
Using the Harris Poll as a research base, you will learn that there are 2.2 million readers of Self-Help books … if you are a nonfiction writer in the Self-Help genre and your goal is to have 2,000 Super Fans, that means that if you convert .018 of the 2.2 million, you are at goal. If you are a fiction writer in the Romance genre, you need to convert a few more. There are 2.8 million readers of Romance—you need to convert .071 of them to your shout out team.
Where do Super Readers Hang Out?
The jackpot answer will require you to become a joiner … a Super Fan yourself. That means you need to think like, act like and go where they do:
- Become a follower and reader of the most popular or certainly trending blogs in your genre. Make comments and become part of its community.
- Discover FlashLightWorthy.com—a site that identifies books for a variety of different fans.
- For Romance, DearAuthor.com may top your list.
- One of my favorite, all around blogs is Bill Gates’—his GatesNotes are a treat and can be found on his site: GatesNotes.com/Books.
- Google “best online
reader communities” and see what is generated. Make sure you go beyond page one of your Google search.
- Check out Goodreads in the same appropriate groups. What’s the buzz that the Readers are chatting about? Goodreads.com–this is to be a reader of blogs and comments (read others, add yours), not to be a promoter of your book. You want to “pick up” their thoughts/beliefs and get into the mindset of what participants do and how they respond to each other.
- Find and follow an online book community, such as OnlineBookClub.org.
- Join a local book club—your local bookstore will most likely have a list of in your area with the “preferred theme.”
- Check out Meetup.com in your area. Look for those that feature book groups, writing and book reviews and see what you discover. Join and show up. Start connecting.
- Become a browser: go to the Top 100 lists … both Paid and FREE … in their preferred Amazon genres—you only follow your genre.
- What are the key words and key word phrases used? Start building you list.
- Know what the popular and trending hashtags are within your genre. Use Hashtagify.me to assist you.
Once you start connecting, your efforts need to be directed toward engaging with them. Start communicating. Reach out. Give them a reason to buy.
- If any are in your region, how about a Meet and Greet?
- They can become beta readers, vote for cover ideas…
- Create a special event for them—either in person or via Skype.
- Offer them “goodies” like bookmarks.
- Sneak previews to “what’s next” in your writing and/or series.
- How about a private Facebook group just for them? Within it, you will have a Fan Club that you need to nurture on a daily basis. Share photos, their shout-outs, tag fans, give them a special name.
- You could create a special edition made available to only them of a previous book, current book or your next one.
- If you create a contest of any sort, or offer rewards, it’s wise to have a few options—one item won’t fit all.
- If you have a special cause that you think that your fans could get behind, invite them in.
Don’t be impatient. It takes time to build to build a Super Fan base—they want more of you, your words, your work—you don’t want to be a one book wonder.
May the Super Fan force be with you.