My Anecdote // Background for why I think this is the best way to build an audience
My first experience learning about the self-marketing side of being an author was reading a book called ‘your first 1000 copies’. I picked it up my first year of college and religiously followed everything it told me to.
I wanted to be a full-time writer/author so badly I blindly followed any advice I could get.
So I read every book in the library, every blog post, scowerd Youtube, took online courses. The more I studied the more I leaned.
You need a blog and an email list, promote your blog on Pinterest, get on the platforms your audience is on. Redesign your website, it needs these pages. Be an AuthorTuber, put out videos twice a week, put out Instagram posts daily, use a Pinterest auto pinner. Remake your website again. if you have multiple ideas for your youtube videos you need different accounts. But authors don’t make money from selling books: set up one-on-one coaching, sell corses, get public speaking engagements and do everything you can… everything except for writing.
I constantly felt overwhelmed, like I had too much on my plate. My love for writing deformed and became relentless self-promotion. It took up all my time and I never had the chance to write. I was slipping in and out of burnout every day and developed depression related to my identity. All the sources said I needed to have one solid, unified online presence but I was having a hard time trying to fit myself into one box. I thought I was the flawed one for being a ‘jack of all trades’ type and tried to cut out every other avenue of my personality.
I knew there was an issue. A work acquaintance once asked me: “what do you do for fun?”
I replied, “I work”
“But when you’re not working?” He asked.
“I go home and find more work to do.”
Then three things happened.
- I moved to Japan so I could dedicate myself to my work
- My best friend built a pretty substantial following on another platform without any of the research, just doing what they were passionate about.
- I released my first short story and it sold zero copies
I was trying to do everything perfectly and plagued with self-doubt. I talk like this was a long time ago, but it was earlier this week.
Well, I ran across this article and realized I was taking myself too seriously.
I’m not a big brand and no one wants to follow or “be friends” with marketing. When I look at a blog, a youtube channel, any social media, I look for people with personality. My brand screemd ‘love me’ & ‘buy me’ & ‘look mom’ & ‘newbie’
So how should small writers start their platform? What are the best practices and how much should you stick to them? How will you actually grow? Well In all truth, I don’t know. What works for one person may not work for the next. But let me share with you what I know in the hopes that you get put on the right path.
- Help relentlessly. Your job is to help your audience as much as possible. That’s how people will find you and respect you. Make a profile of the type of reader you want to attract, think about what kind of content they want to find online as well as what content makes them happier. Not what they need. But what they are looking for. Your writing will provide value for someone, an escape, motivation, inspiration, that’s what you want to convey even before the launch of your book.
- Go against the grain and fuck the flow. If you are competing with everyone else in your genre then you’re competing for second place. You have to break out and create some new, different, unique, be the originator for this topic so that you are the influencer on that topic. Otherwise, you’ll just be competing for second place. If all you’re doing is following advice you will never stand out against all the other people following the same advice. Take a stand, think for yourself and most importantly be yourself.
- Be absolutely and completely genuine. Actually be a person, not a brand. Post, comment on other people’s posts, reply to people… That’s how social media is meant to be used and using it properly will be the biggest difference in how much that platform promotes you.
- Never surrender. Know that if you keep working at it you will eventually stumble across the right topic, the right platform, the right audience. My favorite example in the super carlin brothers who made vlogs back and forth every day for a year before eventually discovering that viewers also shared the same passion for Pixar movies and theories that they did. They filled an untapped market. Over the next few years, their channel has blown up and branched out to topics higher up in the pop culture sphere.
- Master your fate and don’t leave things up to chance. Know the rules before you break them. Knowing the best practices won’t hurt you, getting too wrapped up in them will. There’s nothing wrong with doing things right as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your creative prosses. You need t find the balance that works for you.
- Give your all to everything you start. Stop putting out content just to have content out on a specific day and start putting out high-quality content. Only pick two social media to start on so you don’t overload yourself. Determine what social media your reader likely uses and focus your efforts there. Then choose the one you like the most. Over time and with patience you’ll build your own system to post high-quality content on schedule and then you can spread out to other platforms.
- Create Remarkable Content. Fallow the 80/20 or 80 percent rule. You want to make content that isn’t just helpful but remarkable, something so great that everyone wants to share it. But… putting that level of pressure on yourself is deadly. Take stock of what the top 20% best performing content looks like and work on the project to 80 percent completion. What you learn doing the first 80 percent will make the next time you do the project a lot easier and the last 20% will take up the most of your time and create the least amount of improvement.
- Follow your intuition… When you get excited by an idea, TRY IT so you have no regrets. Realize when you’re creating excuses and overcome them. You never know what is going to be the piece of content that blows up. It’s been studied and proven that your intuition or ‘gut feeling’ recognize patterns faster than the conscious mind and will point you in the right direction. We shut down what feels right with excuses and those tend to be our regrets. If it costs less than $20 or will take less than four hours to do, there is no reason why you shouldn’t at least try.
9. Heres my biggest tip: Start with something searchable. As creators, a lot of our content is actually impossible to find. No one is looking for the book title of the novel you haven’t launched yet. So start with a genre or fandom your passionate about, (and is related to your book) something that people are already looking for. A great example of this is the youtube channel ‘hello future me’ where the creator, Tim, originally was making theories and plot break downs of famous works of pop culture and then started to make new content about more general topics, like creating your magic system, but still referencing the fandoms he built his audience around. Then he released a book on the topic.
That’s it. Those are the things I’ve learned from doing marketing wrong for five years. I’m going to be doing from here on out. So if you want to find out if they work I guess you’ll just have to follow me on some platform to see if I start to grow exponentially 🙂
Let me know, what do you wish you had been told when you just started out?