By Jason Kong
Before your books can be read, they have to be found. You’re probably familiar with these common tactics:
- Tweaking your book’s keywords to be more search-engine friendly.
- Posting to your blog daily, even when no one seems to be reading.
- Establishing a presence on every social media platform, and staying active on all of them.
These are activities intended to help your discoverability. You’re trying to increase the likelihood of connecting with potential readers through your digital content. If you’re diligent and patient, people will eventually find you and your work.
The problem? Most authors underestimate how long “eventually” is.
The amount of published fiction is already huge, and consumers are overwhelmed with the number of stories that have flooded the market. You can be waiting a long time before you start to see any traction at all. And you may never see the readership that you think you deserve.
If your primary marketing strategy is waiting for people to finally come around your way, then you have discoverability dependency. And that’s bad news.
Let’s take a closer look why.
The brutal truth about discoverability
Being found is a crucial step, but it’s just the first one.
Many newcomers won’t care about your offerings at all. Others might be curious, but not enough to proceed. Still others are truly interested, but life gets in the way and they don’t take action.
If you’re fortunate enough to get a small percentage to give your fiction a try, you’re at least on the right track. One reader at a time is progress, slow as it may be.
But how do we explain those cases where there’s an obvious surge of visitors, or a spike in traffic? What causes the momentum push you’ve been hoping for?
That can happen when someone likes your work enough to endorse it to a bunch of others likely to feel the same way. For the sake of discussion, let’s call this noteworthy individual a connector.
If you wait long enough, perhaps connectors will end up finding you.
But why wait?
Identifying the connectors
Somewhere out there in cyberspace are clusters of people that could be potential readers for your stories.
You can’t be certain of their interest, but you can make an educated guess. Reaching out to the connectors of these groups is an effective way to accelerate your marketing efforts.
What kind of people are these connectors anyway? To get you started, consider these three categories that are relevant to your fiction writing:
- Influencers – These are people who have established platforms that attract the kind of people that would likely read your fiction. Book bloggers that review your genre, for example.
- Fans – If you’re fortunate enough to have contact with your most loyal readers, engage them regularly by using social media, email, or a blog. They want to hear from you.
- Peers – Writers that do their storytelling in your genre don’t have to be your competitors. Figure out a partnership opportunity that allows both of you to expand your reach to each other’s audiences.
See if you can come up with a list of people that are connectors for one or more of these categories. Then, for each individual, do some online research to see what kind of audiences they’ve attracted. Can you honestly say their respective followers would be compelled by your storytelling? Are they likely to be interested? If so, those connectors are the ones you should contact.
The secret to successful outreach
Even if you accept the importance of seeking out connectors, you may be intimidated at the prospect of approaching them. After all, the more popular someone is, the more likely that person gets pitched on a daily basis.
Just remember you’re not asking for a favor or making an irrelevant proposition. If this connector truly has an audience that could be interested in what you do, then you have something valuable to offer. Make that benefit clear when reaching out.
Want an opportunity to get in front of a blogger’s audience? Propose a guest post using an angle that’s perfect for that readership.
Want to get your novel read by a book reviewer? Ensure that your story fits well into the scope of what that reviewer covers.
Want to encourage your loyal readers to help spread the word about your work? Offer giveaways and special bonuses, just for them.
Figure out what your connector wants, and you won’t have to do much selling at all.
Wait — aren’t we just talking about networking?
Yes, we are.
The concept of helping each other out through the exchange of value is nothing new. You certainly can still do that if both sides are behind a computer screen. The internet, after all, is a network.
So don’t use discoverability as an excuse to avoid human interaction or to be passive in your marketing. Seek out the right people, don’t just wait.
You have what it takes. You can depend on that.