HOW-TO: Find your readers

June 5, 2013

The second question I will tackle from my independent publishing seminars is How do you go about finding your readers?

Aside from writing, I made finding my readers my most important mission. This is what you need to focus on to be a successful self-published author. In reality, publishers are not the most important key to your success – your readers are! Here are some examples of how I went about finding my readers.

Stand out in the crowd:  Your book is a tiny needle in an ever-growing haystack of self-published books. Rule # 1 of marketing is to find your book’s ‘unique selling propostion’. Try to find a niche market for Uniqueyour book, and then promote it to the interests of those readers. My novel ‘Eclipsed’ is a psychological thriller that revolves around a ‘woman scorned’ seeking revenge. I thought about who this would appeal to. Firstly – women. Next – women who may have been through rough relationships. So I wrote a give-away relationship advice ebook to help these women titled ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’. I promoted it through social media and Google ads with keywords that would bring it up on dating sites – a place I thought I might find these ‘women scorned.’  My ad got up to 300 clicks a day so I was successful in finding my target audience and bringing them to my website where I could then also tell them about my novel.

Get seen:  You will be one of many self-published authors approaching the media, so sending out a media release that is just about your book is not going to grab their attention. In order to get the media interested in promoting your book, you need to give them an angle. If you leas-launch2have a personal story that relates to your book, give them the personal details. If not, look for a newsworthy angle. When I wrote ‘The Ned Kelly Game’ I was also interested in the whereabouts of his lost skull, so I set up a Facebook campaign to try to find it. In addition to local media, it was picked up by a Perth radio station, the Melbourne Herald Sun, and a major Ned Kelly website, all of whom mentioned my book. If you want to get local media to attend and write about your book launches – put on a show! I held my first book launch in a spooky hotel cellar, complete with Ned Kelly as the MC and a charity art auction using works from my book cover. For ‘Eclipsed’ I highlighted it was being held at an outdoor restaurant on the night of a lunar eclipse. I invited local media and they sent reporters and photographers to both events.

Spread the word:  Create a presence on social media but follow the rule of thumb that for every 10 posts only one should be directly selling your book. Blog on topics related to your book or the craft of writing. Set up a mailing list to let interested readers know what you are up to. Network. Don’t be afraid to mention to everyone you meet that you’ve written a book. This can lead to all sorts of opportunities. I mentioned it in conversation at corporate event and my book was recommended to a corporate women’s book club who not only all purchased and read it, but rated it at their monthly dinner to which I was invited as their guest author.

Enlist the help of friends:  Real friends want you to succeed but don’t stretch your friendships by insisting that your friends buy every book you write or bombard them with ‘Buy Now’ posts on social Sharemedia. If you do, pretty soon you’ll find they’ve dropped you faster than if you’d just said you joined Amway. But you can let your friends know that they can help you by re-tweeting, liking and sharing your blogs and special offers with their social networks. Make it easy for them by adding Share buttons to your website and posts. If their friends in turn share the links, your network grows. For those friends who want to read your books, let them know that writing reviews can help you.

Pay it forward:  The industry offers numerous opportunities to volunteer and give back to writers. Get involved by volunteering at festivals, offering to talk at schools and libraries, and appearing on ‘expert’ panels. These are not only wonderful ways to share your learning and experiences with fellow writers, but also to build your loyal following of readers.

Spend some time thinking ‘outside the square’ and see if you can come up with ideas to find your readers. Feel free to share any other methods you use.




14 Responses to “HOW-TO: Find your readers”

  1. Rob Bignell on July 1st, 2013 8:54 pm

    Excellent suggestions, Lea! I especially like the one about only 1 in 10 social media posts should be about directly selling your book. Authors too easily can cause readers to tune them out when too many of the posts are just overt advertisements.

    Related to the press releases for the media point, I always recommend that authors spin their book for a holiday. After all, just because your book was released months ago doesn’t mean you can’t promote it again in the media. For example, if your book is about relationships, why not write a new press release for Valentine’s Day? If your book is about outdoors activities with children, why not stress the importance of them between dads and their kids for Father’s Day? Even New Year’s Day offers an opportunity; if your book is about dieting, why not market is as the “The Must-Have Guide to Staying Thin in 2014”? Target mainstream media and bloggers that ignored your first press release.

  2. Yvonne Lee on July 2nd, 2013 3:33 pm

    Really helpful, thank you.

  3. Jo Dunaway on July 2nd, 2013 3:33 pm

    Good prioritization and a good read.

  4. Andy Rose on July 2nd, 2013 3:34 pm

    Thanks for the spirited discussion. Much appreciated.
    I have researched who might be interested in my book by considering the plot and characters. Besides people who just love to read, for instance, my genre is romantic thriller. Those readers are a target. My heroes are schoolteachers, so that’s another audience.
    The big question then, is how to reach targeted audiences and that is a good topic for another discussion!

  5. Laurie Smith on July 2nd, 2013 5:45 pm

    Good one Lea, plenty of meat on the bone to look at there. Keep well.

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Lea Scott