Readers and Buyers and Fans ... Oh My!
Even though this was written for authors interested in my Self-Publishing Tips & Resources site, you should find some useful ideas here, no matter what area of creativity you indulge in.The Three Most Important Types of People Who Can Make Your Book a Success
If you were to ask most authors and publishers to name three people who can most influence a book's success, you'd likely get responses such as, "a buyer at Borders or Barnes & Noble" or "the book editor at the New York Times" or "one of Oprah's TV show producers."
These are understandable answers. But I encourage you to consider three other types of people. And I'll even go out on a limb and suggest that they are the three kinds of folks who will most dramatically affect the notoriety and sales of your book.
They are readers and buyers and fans. They're so crucial to your success, I'll examine each one in detail.
As the name implies, readers are simply people who have read what you've written. I list them separately because not all readers are buyers or fans, although they certainly can be both. A reader can be someone who borrows your book from a friend, checks out your book from a library, or reads a sample of your work online. They may end up enjoying what you've written, or they may not.
Readers are all important. The more people who absorb your words, the more likely you are to generate positive word of mouth and sales -- that is, if what you've written connects with enough of the people who read your stuff.
That's the key thing to keep in mind here: Your primary goal isn't to make sales (in my opinion). It should be to get as many people as possible to read what you've written, by any means necessary. You can accomplish this by:
- Making book excerpts available on your web site
- Giving away short printed excerpts at your live appearances
- Offering book excerpts to appropriate magazines and newspapers
- Giving free review copies of your book to people who may influence others to read and purchase your title
This type of person is obviously someone who spends money to purchase your book. While buyers often consider themselves readers and fans, they don't always. For example, many children's books are bought by parents and given to the ultimate readers: their kids. Many other books -- such as Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese? and John C. Maxwell's The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership -- are purchased by parents, friends, employers and others as gifts given to people who they feel need them.
Therefore, it's important to know that not all buyers are readers. So when marketing your book, don't think only about the end user. Consider the various types of people who would want to purchase your book as a gift for the eventual reader. Then focus some of your promotion efforts on making these potential buyers aware of the great book you have for their favorite readers.
This type of book lover is most often a buyer and almost always a reader. But what sets this valuable individual apart is that they really, really like you. Or, to be more accurate, they really like the words you've written.
Fans are crucial to your success as an author. Critical acclaim and media exposure are great, but nothing beats having lots of regular people raving about your book and recommending it to friends.
Some of the best ways to cultivate fans include:
- Using your web site to collect the names and addresses of people who enjoy what you've written (and following up with them on a regular basis)
- Turning your live events into opportunities to personally connect with your readers
- Encouraging group discussions of your topic and providing handouts to guide people who are interested
- Thinking of every interaction you have with the public as a chance to start a relationship with a new fan
To your publishing success!