Do you support authors or do they support you?

I recently pre-ordered The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks. It’s the 3rd book in his Lightbringer series and has been much anticipated by me and his other fans. I first heard about the pre-order when Brent posted about it on his blog.

Why do you think I bought his book?

Was it for Brent? Was it because I feel a compulsion to support the poor and downtrodden fantasy authors of our time? Was it because his blatant self-promotion on his blog tricked me into spending the money?

If you’re one of the thousands of people who have purchased a copy of my book Your First 1000 Copies, did you buy it because you felt compelled to help put food on the table to feed my children? Or because my smooth talking marketing copy overwhelmed your good judgement and convinced you to spend the four dollars?

Why do you read?

As authors, we read. A lot. Every night before bed I read fiction – often getting so involved that I lose track of time and stay up way too late. Most days I’m listening to a non-fiction audiobook while driving in the car, shopping at the grocery store, etc.

All of that reading I do for one person… me.

I buy the fiction books because I want to read them and be entertained.

I buy the non-fiction books because I want to read them and learn.

I don’t do it to support authors, I do it to support myself.

Yet, if this is true, why do we as authors get so painfully knotted up about promoting our own work and call it that evil self-promotion word? The disconnect is hurting you, your platform and, most importantly, your readers.

Make it easy for your fans

About a year ago I was having a conversation with a fiction writer whose work I love and was suggesting he start using his email list to announce when his new titles were available. He said he’d rather just let fans find them on their own as he releases them.

“Do you have any idea how frustrating that is for us?”, I said. “I’m a fan of a lot of writers and don’t want to constantly check back on their website to figure out if I’m far enough into their release cycle that there’s actually a new book available. Just email me and let me know so I can buy a copy.”

Since then, the author has used his list to promote his new titles as they’ve released and he’s received nothing but great responses from his subscribers.

When you build your platform, connect with readers and then use that platform to communicate with them, you’re accomplishing so many great things:

  • Making it easy for fans to stay up-to-date on your work.
  • Allowing fans to communicate directly with you.
  • Sharing with fans as you’re on your adventure.
  • Giving fans first look at everything you’re working on.

The ruthless marketer guy

It’s easy to get lost in the strategy and tactics of building an author platform. All this talk about growing email lists, leveraging social media and selling 10,000 books can make it seem impersonal and all about hawking another copy of our book. However, here’s how true platform building goes:

  1. Come up with a ruthless marketing plan. Figure out the best system to build your platform and sell books. Plan out your email marketing, blogging, social media, outreach, etc with a goal of selling as many books as possible.
  2. Execute the plan with personality and heart. Once the plan is in place, then carry it out by being relentlessly helpful.

When I planned the launch of Your First 1000 Copies, I tried to come up with something that would sell as many copies of the book as possible in the first two weeks. I laid out the number of emails I would send, planned the schedule and prepared the launch. Then, once the plan was in place, I worked on making sure all the content I sent in every email was as helpful as possible to the recipients. The emails I sent weren’t just about selling the book, it was also about making sure each one provided stand alone content that would be helpful for the reader.

The same thing goes for this 10k Experiment. I put together my plan hoping it would help grow my email list and sell more books. However, I’ve tried to put out great content in every update I send.

The same thing goes for every author that is blogging, emailing and social mediaing. If they didn’t have books to sell, they wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But, once they start, they’re able to open up, be themselves and focus on adding to the reader’s life.

Why do readers read?

Readers read to add to their life. Readers want to read your books to add to their life. Don’t be afraid to build your platform. Don’t be afraid to market. Don’t be afraid to connect with people. Your writing adds good things to people’s lives, so make it easy for them to get as much of it as they possibly can.

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