In this interview with David Penny of ALLi, Dan Blank discusses the psychology of writing, how to find alternative outlets for your books, and how writers can use available resources to research their reader audience.
Selling a book is a business. It doesn’t mean that the process of writing your book has to be approach as a business, but when it comes to reaching readers you need your business head on.
Make the most of Amazon and Goodreads
The hardest part of starting out as an author, is that feeling of being overwhelmed and knowing where to start to connect with your audience. Dan shares his knowledge and expertise about how you can leverage the information already available on Amazon and Goodreads to familiarise yourself with the readers who read books in your genre.
Amazon and Goodreads are valuable sources of reader insights, and show you what your readers care about, and what language they use.
You may think that your book is unique and doesn’t fit tidily into a genre or specific writing niche, but because libraries, book stores and online book retailers need to fit you into a category, it’s imperative that you conduct a competitive analysis of titles written by other authors who write books that are similar to yours.
Dan recommends finding three to five authors who are already reaching the audience you hope to target, and then using the available information contained with Amazon and Goodreads reviews to find out what language the readers are using.
Amazon has a search field you can utilise to search review content, and Dan spends a lot of time reading reviews and captures phrases or words that pop up again and again. This research can be used to help you choose the language you use in your book descriptions, social media or website content.
You can also review the genre categories your comp title authors appear in, and evaluate which ones would be relevant to your book.
As well as looking at the book content you can look at the author bios, websites and social media presence. All too often, authors are fearful of putting themselves out into the marketplace because everything isn’t perfect, but a quick review of your author competitors will soon reveal that they don’t always have their content ducks in a row, but they’re still selling books. So this will take some of the pressure off you as you work on creating your own platform.
Creating Valuable Connections
Too many authors leave the marketing and promotion of their book to the last minute, and end up by creating spammy posts on social to make quick connections. Dan covers how to build meaningful relationships ahead of time so that they’re in place when you need to leverage the connection. This applies not just to reaching readers, but creating a network of fellow authors or self-publishing professionals that can help you achieve your goals and act as a support system.
Don’t let your introvert’s fear stand in your way of reaching out to the other authors you’ve identified as your competitors. They’re a valuable source of advice and expertise, and may be more than happy to connect with a fellow author in their writing niche. Writing is a lonely profession, and nobody is more aware of that, than another writer.#Authors - Here's some valuable tips to help you #ReachReaders by @danblank #podcast Click To Tweet
Leave yourself a planning window
If your book isn’t coming out for a year, it’s not too soon to start to build a relationship with your readers. You can get them on board by creating a street team or beta readers that you can forge a relationship with ahead of your book release.
Having this planning window also allows you to formulate ideas of different out of the box ways you can promote your book or align with other authors.
Consolidate Newsletter Research
Dan uses a specific email for subscribing to newsletters, and then reviews the content to see what others are doing in different niches. This is an effective approach for seeing what other authors in your niche are doing. But this is another example when a long planning horizon is important. Allowing you time to evaluate the competition and getting idea about how to plan and manage your own book releases.
The most beneficial element of your own newsletter is that you own that relationship with your subscribers, and when you establish and maintain a line of communication with them, you’re taking them on a journey. The sooner you start your mailing list the sooner you can start to build a relationship that goes beyond “buy my book now”.
Your newsletter doesn’t all have to be about you, or just used as a vehicle to sell. As a writer, you’re a natural and keen observer of the world and people around you and you, so why not share these observations with your mailing list group?
Plan using Baby Steps
One of the recurring themes in all of Dan's podcasts is the power of breaking down your goals and objectives into small bite size chunks. This approach is a great way of avoiding that feeling of being overwhelmed, and provides you with the psychological benefits that come when you achieve.
As we start to wrap up activities for this year and plan for next year, what better philosophy is there to help us achieve our writing and self-publishing goals for 2017?