Some writers think that eloquent words, unique characters, and wild worlds are enough to reel in the readers and have people bowing at your feet.
But sorry, Jack. That isn’t enough.
So what 4 solid steps can you take right now to start building your fanbase one screaming fangirl at a time?
1. Discover your Audience
Reaching out to your audience begins with understanding who your audience is. And understanding who your audience is begins with understanding your novel.
Answer these questions:
- What is your book’s genre?
- How old are the main characters?
- What is the protagonist’s age and gender?
- Who’s POV do we follow?
- What is the message of the story?
- What does the voice of your novel sound like?- Youthful? Aged and wise?
- What other factors inspired your novel and influence your writing?- A song? Video games? History? A television series?
Once you have these answers you discover who your target audience is.
If you’ve discovered that your book is for a young adult audience (like my books are) then consider what books the kids are already into.
If you’re writing a fantasy or science fiction novel, young readers will probably already be reading books like these:
Or if you’re writing contemporary romance, young adult readers will probably already be reading books like these:
What popular books in your select genre have you read? Join groups celebrating these books. Why? Because in order to build a loyal fanbase, you must create genuine connections with freak fans who like stories similar to your own.
2. Reach out and Connect with your Audience
Genuine connection begins with sharing genuine expressions on a similar topic. Joining fan groups allows you to connect over one topic you all have in common.
Note: true fans can discover a poser from a mile away. Don’t be a poser. Only join a group, blog, etc. if you’ve actually read the book(s) and actually enjoyed the genius displayed in their pages.
So, that being said, if there’s a Facebook group for that popular book similar to your own- join it. If there’s a Twitter feed or an online forum for it- follow it. If there’s a blog about the book- subscribe to it. If there’s a writing group with fan fiction about the book- read some of the work and leave positive feedback.
The point is to be where your people already are and start a conversation with them. Don’t wait for your tribe to come to you because the sea is just too big and waiting gets you nothing. You must give to receive, you beautiful sunfish. Leave positive comments with your own unique point of view and actively reach out to those already in the group. Take the initiative in offering support to those in the group in a way that they will personally appreciate. Perhaps someone else is sharing their novel or piece of fan fiction on this forum, so read it and leave your positive comment.
Over time you’ll build genuine relationships. Eventually, you can introduce your work and discuss how the book your group is celebrating has inspired the book you’re currently writing. Genuine relationships lead to active supporters- AKA fans.
But what’s the most effective, non-sleazy way to promote your work in this circle you’ve joined?
3. Avoid Selfish and Ruthless Self-Promotion.
The reason why “self-promotion” groups on Facebook or Twitter, etc., don’t work is because they’re a long, screaming list of “HERE’S MY SPARKLY BOOK READ IT NOW BECAUSE IT’S THE BEST”. And you know what? Absolutely no one cares about that. No. Matter. How. Sparkly. It. Is.
Picture successful promotional work like attending a cocktail party. See, no one walks into a room full of classy peeps and starts screaming aloud about their book in hopes that someone will hear this rant and go “Oh my I neeeeeed this book.”
Noooope. What a gentleman or lady does instead is find a group or person he can introduce himself to and start a human conversation with. He asks the person questions, gives sincere responses, and then eventually shares his point of view on a relevant conversation or topic. This James Bond of cocktail etiquette then promotes his novel through natural conversation.
Here’s what that smooth, natural conversation should look like in your circles:
- Introduce yourself as a writer and what you’re currently working on. Share *two to three* of your favorite reads.
- Relate the topic of discussion to a character or scene from your own novel *if plausible*.
- Post a brief update *every once in a blue moon* to the circle about your novel and its progress.
- Share a small excerpt about your characters, a scene you’re working on, or your novel’s plot *in relevant conversation*.
- Ask a friend to read *a small chapter or scene* from your book and to give honest critique on it.
- Ask a friend to share your book via word of mouth or otherwise with friends *who would be interested* in his novel.
- Post or share a link to an interesting article you’ve written *in relation to relevant topic*.
This smooth tactic of promotion confirms to your new circle that they aren’t just dollar signs in your eyes, but friends who could stand to benefit from your novel. Etiquette demands that you do not make the focus about you and your book in these forums. And lastly, always offer support in turn. Give support to receive support. (notice a theme here?)
The only time the focus should be on your novel is in your own platform. And building a platform around your novel is the one surefire way to turn your friends into genuine, loyal fans.
4. Build your Platform
A platform is a central online hub built around your novel. It’s typically a website, blog, or vlog about your book’s progress, the characters, the inspiration, the scenes, or all of the above.
If friends in your circle(s) seem genuinely interested, invite them to check out or follow your platform. I guarantee the support will come. It will not be a flood all at once but it will steadily build over time.
What is the best platform to build your novel on? A blog or a vlog.
Next week, I’ll discuss why a blog or a vlog is the best platform to build your novel on and how to get started blogging/vlogging about your novel.
But for now, dear writers, start these 4 steps yourself. Repeat steps 2 and 3: reach out and reach out often, and the fans will come over time if you persevere. Trust in this process: genuine giving leads to receiving!
Have questions about figuring out your fanbase or where to begin? Shoot me a question in the comments section below. Or simply introduce yourself to the Barely Hare Books community! I’d love to welcome you personally. Or if you’re reading Leia: Princess of Alderaan or Ready Player One, we have much to discuss, friend, so hit me up down below.
Eager to join a blog that discusses writing technique, character crafting, Star Wars, Legend of Zelda, Hamilton lyrics, plot twists, Lord of the Rings, Dragon protagonists, and other glittery geekdom? Then subscribe to the Barely Hare Books Newsletter below and receive regular advice on how to write a fandom-worthy novel plus other fangirl commentary from me- Rae Elliott.