Writers – and indie authors in particular – can change the way our readers view the world and their place within it. But to connect with them most effectively, we also have to know and understand our target readers well.
US author Dan Blank suggests innovative ways to learn more about our ideal readers while we are still crafting our books, so that we may reach them more effectively when we self-publish those books.
Your book is a gateway for those who will read it. Through the stories you craft, the worlds you build, and the characters you create, your book will open readers up to new to new ways of experiencing the world, and themselves.
How to Turn Your Book into a Gateway
Today I want to give you a step-by-step process for how you can craft your book as a gateway for your ideal readers, and how indie publishing is the perfect process in which to do so.
Begin learning about the ideal readers for your book as soon as you can.
Give this time to learn, week by week, who they are, where they show up, and what engages them.
The more you learn about your ideal readers, the more input you have to ensure the book you are crafting will reach the right people and resonate immediately with them.
To do so, I encourage you to:
- Identify five comparable books. These do not have to be books that match yours, but rather, are books that you know your ideal readers already love. Use Amazon and Goodreads to find these. Start with one book or author who you feel has a similar audience as the one you seek, then use Amazon’s and Goodreads’ recommendations to find more.
- Study your comp authors. When you find these comparable books, move to Google and look up the authors. See what their websites look like, what social media channels they use, and so on. Try to find comp authors who are active, and whose last book came out within the past three years. You can repeat step 1 to go back and find new potential comparable authors.
- Spend time “listening” to your ideal readers. Read every single review left on Amazon and Goodreads for your comparable books. Observe how the comparable authors engage on social media, and notice who their readers (followers) are. At the end of each week, write down one new thing you learned about your ideal audience.
- Focus on relationships, not content. Once you listen to your ideal audience and colleagues, begin to consider how you can connect with them. Instead of merely sharing content on social media, consider how you are truly connecting with these people. Not in promotional ways, but as someone who shared their enthusiasm for the kinds of books you like. Be generous before you make an “ask” of others
- Establish a weekly practice of outreach. Work across channels: email, in person, events, and social media. As an professional author, you want to have a sense of why readers love the kinds of books you write, and how to connect your work to the community who supports these books. Trusting relationships take time to establish, work on it a little bit each week.
These things are a core part of the creative process. They tell you more about the marketplace your work will publish into. It tells you more about what your readers love. You will learn from the wisdom of others who have gone down the road ahead of you.
These practices will make your books better, and more likely to connect with readers.
This post provides the key steps to get you started. If you'd like to learn more about the topic, I've gone into it in depth in my new book: Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience.
OVER TO YOU What's the most effective way you've found to get to know your target readers? What difference has it made to your writing process? We'd love to know.#Authors - how to get to know your readers better - by @DanBlank Click To Tweet
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