Maybe some of you have a lot of fans. Maybe some of you are just starting out and can count on your fingers the number of fans you have. Wherever you are in growing your fans, I think this post might help you even more.
First I will tell you the mistakes I made trying to build fans.
Mistake #1: Not studying the actual data of anything I sign up for.
What I mean by that is did it work for me or my book? If I sign up for some promotional things did I get sales because of it? There are many ways to look at this stuff. Sign up for a specific day and don’t do any promotion other than that thing you signed up for that day. Then the next day or two days later look at your sales. Are they higher than normal or about the same? If they are the same the promotion didn’t work.
That’s what I learned from Thunderclap. I am going to be brutally honest here. I am not a fan of Thunderclap. There are many of you who love it, but I am not one of them. I tried it once and saw absolutely no return. Not one book sold due to my Thunderclap campaign. I give these sites and promotion places one chance. I don’t care that they are free. Just because they are free doesn’t mean they shouldn’t work at all.
According to Thunderclap my post/tweet I made up for them to send out went to 200,000 people. I didn’t get one sale from that. You would think a least one person would look at that tweet or FB post and think, maybe I should check out this book. Nope.
I figured out the reason. The people who sign up so I can make my goal (I kept my goal small for 100 people to sign up to tweet or post on the specified day) were usually random people who knew nothing about me or cared even less about my genre. I got most of my signups from special Thunderclap groups where we each sign up for each other’s Thunderclap.
Sure I had a few people sign up that knew me or were already fans, but they would have forwarded a post or retweeted something I put up anyway if I asked them to. I didn’t need Thunderclap to do that.
Maybe you have had better luck with Thunderclap, but I didn’t. It looks great on paper, but that mass push for that one day is maybe going to land you a few sales. And those sales will not get you fans, they are just looking at the good deal from your release day sale or because their friend posted it on their page. Their friend who doesn’t even care about the book or the author they are helping with Thunderclap, so most likely the person who bought it because of the friend’s post won’t care either in the end.
If I throw a million M&M’s at a wall on a hot day something is bound to stick. I am sure a few people clicked on my links but that’s it. Not enough to make a difference.
Thunderclap is just an example of what I found that didn’t work for me. One of the best ways to track if your links even get clicked with anything you do is bitly. Not only does it shorten your link in case you need a shortened link for Twitter but you can see who clicked on the link. Use these where ever you do a promotion. Then you can see when that link was clicked. Was it clinked a lot when you signed up for that sales/promo newsletter? Maybe when you did a blog tour, you can see what day had the most clicks then narrow it down to which blog post had the clicks. Do tests and keep track of everything. Don’t just assume it is working for you because everyone else is using it.
Mistake #2: Those sales/freebie newsletters like BookBub or Robin Reads.
Firstly, I would like to state that I use these sales/freebie newsletter sites (BookBub, RobinReads, BookGorilla, etc.) to promote a sale or upcoming release with a special pre-order price. And I will continue to use them for certain reasons. But one of those reasons is not to gain fans. Most of the people buying the books are only doing it for the sale/freebie price, not because they are actively seeking out a great author to become a fan of. That’s it.
For a list I compiled (thanks to my author friends - especially C.C. Wood) of the various sales/freebie newsletter sites click HERE.
If you want your sale numbers to go up then by all means use these things. That, in itself, can help you get your name out there. Once you creep under 1000 on Amazon, then Amazon makes your book more visible - so there is a good reason to have these jumps in sales.
I plan on putting the previous book in a series on sale the week before my new release to get my sales numbers up. Plus I can put my special release information in the back of the book (special pre-order price for the upcoming release, maybe a giveaway link to the release, FB party that has lots of cool stuff going on, etc.). So, I might get even more sales from it. But I don’t expect to gain any fans from it and neither should you.
Mistake #3: Not promoting your newsletter or not having a newsletter at all!
Seriously, if you don’t have a newsletter, get one right now. I use Mailchimp. You can create a newsletter from a variety of different templates and schedule it to go out at a specific time. You can even make a ‘thank you for signing up’ newsletter to automatically send to people who have just signed up. There are other newsletter sites out there but I have to admit I am unfamiliar with them. Research what is out there and right for you.
Mailchimp is free but you can pay and get more features.
If you do have a newsletter, get your fans to sign up. Post it in your fan group, on your author page, tweet about it, wherever you know people will respond. Also, offer an incentive to get them to sign up. A free book or a special giveaway you have for 2 weeks where people can win a signed copy of your book for signing up. Include it in one of your Facebook release party or takeover posts, especially in the giveaways on those posts. Give people who normally follow authors and like books a reason to sign up.
Don’t offer a gift card to sign up to the newsletter. Maybe in the FB party you can because you were probably going to have an Amazon gift card giveaway anyway and the tie in to your newsletter fits that particular prize. But on the whole, stick to book related prizes (free chapters, some swag, signed books, free ecopy of a book, etc.). That way you avoid the people who only want the money and could care less about books or authors. Remember you are trying to gain fans, not just numbers.
Now I will not lie. Some of your sign ups, actually probably half of your signups will not open your newsletters. But that’s okay because in Mailchimp you can actually see who opens them. Then if you have a release coming up, maybe you can send a special email just to the sign ups that usually open your newsletters about the release or a special prize they can win if they help you in some way.
Don’t ever remove people from your newsletter list, unless they harass or threaten you in some way. If that happens, block that person anyway you can because that is just crazy. Back to the do not remove people who sign up and never open your newsletters. The reason you aren’t going to remove them is what happens in a year or two when you are a more popular author? They are more likely to open your email at that point.
Newsletters are great because you can do exclusive things there that others just don’t have access to unless they sign up. Make mention of that when promoting sign ups. Give an example of how you had a special only giveaway just for your subscribers. Remember, always think outside the box.
The final and most important reason for the newsletter: you have total control over the content. The giveaways and promotions you do with Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, etc. you are confined by their rules. Even if you post something on your website, you have to hope people click on your website to see it. With a newsletter, you are directly contacting people with your own personal message. There is no other way on social media to do that. That’s why the more people who sign up to the newsletter, the more eyes will see your message or book or sale.
Mistake #4: Not treating your fans like gold.
I don’t think I ever ignored fans. If I ever did I had no idea I did that. I am still surprised people want to learn about me as an author. I am sitting here in brown leggings, an old faded T-shirt and my husband’s old flannel shirt (that I use as a robe). Also, I’m not 25 anymore, so I don’t really pull off this look in a cute way. I wonder what readers imagine when they think of me and then pray they never actually see me like this. Occasionally, I put on a bra but not usually. So when a fan tells me they love my book or stalks me (in a friendly, non-creepy way) I fan them back. Because who else would be excited about what I just described. #NotJoking
I try my hardest to read their posts and like and/or comment on the posts. I try my best to interact with them and get back to their messages as fast as I can. I may not be perfect because Facebook is in control of what pops up on my feed more than I am, but I do my best.
Also, don’t be one of those authors that is only interested in themselves. You know the ones that are always posting about their books or sales and nothing else. The only time they comment on someone else’s post is if they can mention their book or that they are an author. No one likes those authors.
Also, the cliquey author. The one that only associates with the popular or bestseller authors and maybe a few fans that bend over backwards to help them. They will lose fans and alienate other authors by doing this. Potential authors that may not have yet hit the bestseller list but one day do and could help them in the future, won’t. Unfortunately, because that cliquey author was so obvious in their ‘I only like you if you can do something for me’ mentality they won’t get help from the people who could help them in the future. Don’t be this author. When push comes to shove, no one will help this author. They wear their superficiality on their sleeve.
Remember, authors can be fans too. If you have author fans, not only do you have someone who loves your work, but a potential co-author on a project or someone to talk shop with. If you only look at the authors above you, you won't see the immense talent and potential that surrounds you.
I want you to understand how lucky you are to have fans. These people have chosen you and your work to favor. You are not entitled to fans, you have to earn them by writing good books and giving them hugs (usually virtual hugs) when you can. Say hi to them, invite them in on something special you may be doing, mention you have a fan group where you like to really get to know people and have fun, just do anything you can to let your fans know how blessed you feel to have them help you along this rocky author path.
I cannot put accurately into words how humbled I feel to have fans, or even just people who pick up my book, like it, and leave a review. I am floored every time this happens. This makes my day. Every time I come up with an idea for a book I pray my fans like it. I know I will like it because I won’t put out anything I don’t like, but will my fans? This is the fear I have every time I hit the publish button. I imagine that I will click on my fan page and suddenly everyone has left it and I am the only member. So, when I see that review where someone I know liked it or get a message from a fan, not only am I over the moon about it but I have a tremendous sense of relief.
To wrap up, work hard to develop a fan base not just sell books. The more fans you have, the more people you have giving shout outs about your books. That can make a 1 or 2 day Book Bub push turn into weeks. What I mean is when you do a Book Bub sale, you get a spike in sales for that book for a day or two, then it goes back to normal. If you get a large fan base, that spike in sales will last as long as the fans shout about it.
That was your cup of joe for today. Remember, you got into writing because you love to write. Enjoy that, and embrace the people that see the love you poured into your work.
Check out the previous Book Barista post about Traditional Vs. Self Publishing HERE.
Check out the next Book Barista post about In-Depth Marketing HERE.
As an indie-author I was wondering what I could do to help get my books out there. So, I looked into it and that's when I realized I had a lot to learn. These posts are to help my fellow authors learn how to market and publish their book. I pass on what I found out about making a book a success.