“How do I get more people to buy my book?” is a common question authors ask us.
The easy answer is to say “buy ads”, and, while that works, it’s costly. Plus, it’s kind of a “self licking ice cream cone” in that ads only work as long as you’re paying. If you ever want to stop the cycle of funneling sales revenue directly into ads, then you have to start looking at trying something else.
Newsletters are the big alternative. However, most who try to get sign ups find it’s not that easy.
The answer here is to turn the problem around. Instead of endlessly shouting “buy my books” authors need to create a situation where others are doing the shouting for you. To do that, you need to switch from a “push” to a “pull.” Make a scenario where people are naturally coming to you.
You need to build a community around you and your book. What marketing guru Seth Godin refers to as building a tribe.
“How Do I Do That?”
I get it, just saying you have to “build a community” is like saying “well, just sell a million copies.” It’s easy to say, but not very easy to do. The good thing is, you’ve probably already got the two tools you need: your words and your blog.
Yes, that’s right. Those are, truly, the only things you need. Honest.
Case in point, let’s go look at Chuck Wendig’s blog, what many of you may know as Terrible Minds.
This is a prime example of an author who uses his unique voice and style to build a strong community. He’s got nearly 8,000 subscribers to his blog and his books sell well – without advertising.
By regularly putting out well written, poignant, and often irreverent content, Chuck’s put his voice out into the ether and the internet has responded. He doesn’t write about his books, he writes about stuff he likes. Stuff his audience likes. Hot topics of the day — from the Supergirl trailer to self promotion techniques to the sexual politics of Mad Max.
In other words, he’s reaching out and gathering his tribe. And, when they read something they like, they push out and help to grow the tribe for him. And, once those new tribe members are there on his site, they can see all of the other great stuff he has there — books, short stories, and more great posts.
If they like those, maybe they’ll buy one of his books. Or join his newsletter so they can get notified when more cool stuff shows up.
He built a community with his content.
So, how can you generate some compelling topics and start to gather up your own tribe?
What about using the research for your next book?
When many authors prepare to write a story, they devote hours and hours of research into the smallest details of their work. I personally see authors on social media asking very specific questions about history, ammunition, battle tactics, current high school lingo, etc.
These are the very things that you can use to create your own Content Community.
For example, you are writing a book that includes several types of martial arts. All the research and gathered information shouldn’t just sit hidden in private Pinterest boards, bookmarked browser tabs, or YouTube playlists. They should be used as the basis of your next blog post — or even a series of posts — and shared on sites where people are already going to learn about the information you have gathered.
By compiling and sharing what you have learned while writing the story, you are drawing in an audience with similar interests to what takes place in your story.
In this instance the author could share those posts on other blogs dedicated to specific forms of fighting, threads on reddit discussing tactics, comments on YouTube videos, groups on Google+, ect. The options are endless.
This changes the narrative. You’re no longer yelling out into the world to buy your book. Your reaching out and pulling in others to build a community around the precepts of your book. You’re involving them, getting them interested in the final product.
Encourage discussion, ask questions, be open — maybe even a bit vulnerable.
At ThirdScribe we get to see a lot of information about blog posts — views, shares, and clicks. Blog posts that are little more than marketing press releases do very poorly — even ones that are long previews or free chapters of the book. But, posts that are NOT about the book, but something insightful or personal related to it… Well, those do much better, and have a chance to go viral.
People rarely like being sold to. But they love to be engaged.
So go out there, show your expertise, find those new readers who are interested in what you know, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of using your random knowledge, imagination, and unique voice to grow your audience… and, sell books.