45 – How to Build a Tribe

Today on the Book Launch Show, Tim and Valerie have a conversation about Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, exploring how someone new to the writing and publishing world can begin to gather a loyal following. They talk about engaging with fans in the most effective way so that you steadily build your audience and set yourself up with a strong fan base in the future. While many authors are out there chasing the algorithm of writing a specific number of books in specified time frames, Tim and Valerie discuss why this might be the quickest way to sell, but certainly not the most sustainable. Writing to meet the expectations of a particular platform is not only exhausting, but it also steals the joy that your passion for writing used to evoke. If you’re interested in hearing more on these topics, don’t miss out on this episode!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • When cross promotions work and don’t work well and going about it thoughtfully.
  • The importance of understanding why a marketing tactic succeeds or fails.
  • Discerning the difference between constructive and destructive information out there.
  • Why chasing the algorithm of producing and publishing all the time is not sustainable.
  • The problem with relying on Amazon and why you need to determine your own rules.
  • There are no short cuts to writing good books and creating a sustainable income from it. 
  • Applying Seth Godin’s concept of tribes to a writer’s understanding of fans.
  • How a lot of the fan activity we see from other artists is organically produced.
  • What you can do to start communicating with your fans and set yourself up for future success.
  • Trying to establish personal communication versus public communication with fans.
  • Progressing from your fans talking to you to talking to each other.
  • And much more!

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Tim Grahl — https://booklaunch.com/

Tim on Twitter — https://twitter.com/timgrahl

Valerie Francis — https://valeriefrancis.ca/

Valerie on Twitter — https://twitter.com/valerie_francis

The Story Grid Editor Roundtable Podcast — https://valeriefrancis.ca/podcast/

Running Down a Dream — https://www.amazon.com/Running-Down-Dream-Winning-Creative/dp/1936891557

Book Launch Coaching https://booklaunch.com/coaching/

Marketing resources https://booklaunch.com/book-marketing-resources/

Seth Godin — https://www.sethgodin.com/

Tribes on Amazon — https://www.amazon.com/Tribes-We-Need-You-Lead-ebook/dp/B001FA0LAI

Black Irish Books — https://blackirishbooks.com/

AWeber — https://www.aweber.com/

Fiverr — https://www.fiverr.com/

Nora Roberts — http://www.noraroberts.com/books/

Avengers Endgame — https://www.marvel.com/movies/avengers-endgame

Captain Marvel — https://www.marvel.com/movies/captain-marvel

Shazam! — https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0448115/

Neil Gaiman — http://www.neilgaiman.com/

Taylor Swift —  https://www.taylorswift.com/

Ian Rankin — https://www.ianrankin.net/

J.K Rowling — https://www.jkrowling.com/

Slack — https://slack.com/

Barnes & Noble — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/

Craft + Commerce Conference — https://conference.convertkit.com/

World Domination Summit — https://worlddominationsummit.com/

[0:00:00.3] TG: Hello and welcome to The Book Launch Show. I am Tim Grahl and this week’s episode is really fun for me. Years and years ago, I read this book, Tribes by Seth Godin. It really became the foundation of everything that I do in book marketing, it’s one of those that just changed the way I see the world, which is pretty much how every Seth Godin book hits me.

I used to tell my wife that it felt like – none of his books really tell you what to do, they just completely change your mind, change the way you see the world and now you’re left to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild your life. I said, I always felt like it created this itch on my back, I couldn’t quite reach. That’s what Tribes is, it just completely changed the way that I go through the world and I see the world and a lot of what I teach on book marketing, the foundational principles are looking at the world in terms of tribes.

Well, every author’s goal and dream is to build their own tribe, their own set of raving fans that love everything they do and tell everybody about them and help them sell their books and on and on. Valerie’s questions are like, what can you be doing now, early in the process, tot set yourself up for success like that in the future, to start building up that following that will help you long in the future.

For me it’s a fun conversation, it’s an interesting conversation to look at how do you cultivate raving fans, especially when you don’t have any fans right now? I think it’s an interesting conversation, something worth talking about and worth looking at. It’s one of those you know, if you don’t know where you’re going, what is that old cliché?

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time, right? I think looking at it from this perspective where I don’t have a huge audience yet but I want to go ahead and be doing the kinds of things that will create a tribe of people around my work. It’s a fun conversation, I think you’ll get a lot out of it. Before we get into that, I just want to remind you of two things.

The first is, my book, Running Down a Dream is still available. I highly recommend it. We’ve now hit 119 reviews. Mostly five stars. I think my favorite negative review, let me think if I can get this right. Says, yeah. I think it was on Goodreads, it was probably the shortest review and my favorite negative review of any of the work I’ve ever done. It said, “poorly written and slightly misogynistic” which you know, maybe on both of those, but it’s a really good book besides what that one reviewer thought but if you look at the reviews, I just recommend you go and look at the reviews of Running Down a Dream.

I can’t really do them justice. Sometimes, they’re so nice and so complimentary that I have to double check to make sure it was my book that they were at. Go read the reviews of Running Down a Dream. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I really recommend that you do.

Especially as a writer, you are going to face some struggles and some pitfalls and some low points that are really hard to come back from. I talk about those in the book, I talk about what it’s like to be there and how to claw your way out of it. Really good book, Running Down a Dream, it’s available at blackirishbooks.com and Amazon.

Also, if you are looking for some help with book marketing so I get emails still every week from people that are looking for help to build their platform, launch their book, all of those things. I’m currently not available and instead, I recommend that you go to booklaunch.com/coaching and check out the coaches we have available.

It’s a really great group of people, they’ve worked really hard, they’ve done a lot of work in book marketing with clients and then they’ve gone through all of my training and we can continue to stay in touch as they grow their knowledge and book marketing. If you want some help. Most of the people that you run into that are talking about book marketing that are willing to take your money to help you are not doing the kinds of things that we’re talking about on this podcast.

They’re running around, you know, helping you with your social media, helping you to get on like radio shows or something. Stuff that just doesn’t work. If you want somebody that really understands book marketing, how it works, highly recommend you check out some of the book coaches, really smart savvy people, they had to really work hard and prove themselves to get in that group.

Go there, booklaunch.com/coaching but without further ado, let’s jump into this episode and get started.


ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Book Launch Podcast. Helping authors launch and market their books.


[0:04:53.3] VF: Hello, Tim.

[0:04:55.6] TG: Hello, hello.

[0:04:56.6] VF: How are you today?

[0:04:58.0] TG: I’m hanging in there.

[0:04:59.1] VF: You’re hanging in there.

[0:05:00.3] TG: That’s right.

[0:05:01.5] VF: Well, that’s better than not hanging in there I guess. Okay, I got a couple of updates. First of all, well, today is the first as we record this. I sent out my book club email and I just sent it out about an hour or so ago and I’ve already gotten a response. Someone really likes – yeah, they really liked it, that’s good, thumbs up. Keep going with that one.

From the update that I sent on the 15th, I got a complaint on that on AWeber. It’s only one. I’m not really worried that I got a complaint but I was really curious to see if I could figure out where it came from because I’m always looking at this – that cross promotion list, right? I’m always curious to see if that’s actually doing anything.

I called AWeber and of course, they can’t actually tell you who did it or where it came from but they said, if someone complains about your email or marks it as junk or spam, they’re automatically unsubscribed from your list. That made it really easy because I only had one unsubscribe and it came from that cross promotion list. Isn’t that interesting?

[0:06:07.2] TG: There you go, yeah.

[0:06:08.4] VF: Fascinating.

[0:06:09.3] TG: Yeah, because they probably don’t remember signing up for your email list.

[0:06:13.4] VF: Probably not.

[0:06:13.9] TG: Because it was the cross promotion. That’s probably where it came from.

[0:06:19.4] VF: It’s a fascinating study in what not to do. Just watching them a spiral, right?

[0:06:28.7] TG: I think the biggest thing is to do these things thoughtfully because there’s cross promotions that work well, you want to do them thoughtfully, you want to make sure people understand what they are signing up for, you want to make sure you’re doing it with other people in your genre.

You know, there’s like ways to do it that work, you know?

[0:06:46.8] VF: That’s not the way that I did it.

[0:06:49.2] TG: Yeah. I just don’t want to – I don’t want people to think any cross promotions are wasted time because honestly, cross promoting with other authors is a great way to build your audience, you just have to do it in a kind of thoughtful – to me, it’s just putting yourself in the person’s shoes who is getting promoted to and making sure that they understand what’s going on.

[0:07:15.0] VF: Yeah, I mean, exactly. Because as I probably have mentioned this, I can’t remember. When I did the cross promotion, I was in the, I was trying to learn everything about this business at once. I was on Facebook and in the various Facebook groups, and this was the collective wisdom, what’s the saying? I don’t’ believe in the collective wisdom of idiots and not that those people were idiots but they didn’t know anything more about this than me, right? It was kind of the blind leading the blind.

I was sort of listening to the collective, the hive mind and this was the thing that you do and there were people getting together in some of the courses that I had been part of, even had groups where the students could come together and cross promote one another if they wanted to.

I thought well, I guess this is what you do, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I don’t know anything about this business so I guess I’ll give it a try. Even though my spidey senses were tingling, I did it anyway and now that I’m starting to learn a little bit about marketing and what this means, I’m starting to see all the reasons why my spidey senses were tingling in the first place a year and a half ago when I tried this, so it’s fascinating.

[0:08:31.0] TG: Yeah, it’s hard because it’s like, it’s also true that so much of the marketing stuff is counterintuitive. It’s hard to know when you’re doing something that your gut is saying, don’t do this, this is a bad idea, whether it’s just scared because it’s something new or whether it’s like no, I should have listened.

Because I’ve done stuff like that and like, I don’t know, this doesn’t – you know, I’m just going to do it and just see what happens and then it’s like, if it had turned out that you had built this – you gotten this huge list of great people that were buying your book, she’d be like hey, cross promotions are amazing, you know?

I don’t’ know what I was so worried about. I think experimenting with the things are fine and then just you know, I think the way you’re doing it is right where you’re like, now, looking back at it and be like okay, well that didn’t work the way I thought it would, you know, what can I learn from it, how can I do it different instead of just like, I see so many authors just jumping from tactic to tactic.

Not really knowing why they’re doing any of the things they’re doing and then, the worst, honestly, to me, something worse than nothing working is when something works but you don’t’ know how or why so you can’t recreate the success.

[0:09:51.1] VF: Right.

[0:09:52.4] TG: I don’t’ think it’s necessarily a bad thing that you tried it, it’s just a good lesson to learn.

[0:09:56.8] VF: Right, it’s not the tactic that didn’t work, it was the approach to the tactic. Anyway, lots of lessons still being learned on that one. But it raises another issue that has been coming up in the last week or so I guess. I don’t know if you heard this story about this woman in Brazil who had hired ghost writers from Fiverr to write for her and they ended up plagiarizing Nora Roberts and like 40 other writers.

[0:10:23.9] TG: Yeah. I saw that. Because she got sued by Nora Roberts, right?

[0:10:27.2] VF: And 40 other writers, yes indeed.

[0:10:29.2] TG: Okay, I just saw the – I didn’t read too deep so I saw the headline and like the first paragraph.

[0:10:35.8] VF: Yes, well, I’ve seen little snippets of this all over but one of the things this writer said was, now I’m paraphrasing, but she kind of got caught up in the idea that she had to publish really quickly and frequently in order to make a go of this.

This again is one of the things that I was hearing when I started in this business and I don’t know if people are still talking this way or not. I’m sure there’s a group of people who are still thinking this way, but it was that you had to publish something to Amazon every 30 days to keep the algorithm fresh and all that kind of stuff.

People may still be trying to do that, I’m not aware of it because I’m not listening to that kind of conversation because it never made sense to me. One, I don’t know how anyone, I certainly could never write a book in 30 days, not without self-destructing or getting carpal tunnel or something. I just couldn’t do it; I’m not built for that at all.

But this is the type of information that this woman in Brazil was listening to and so she was trying to feed the beast. Which is kind of the same thing I was doing with that list, right? I was just listening to what was going on and following without thinking.

[0:11:49.3] TG: Yeah, I mean, that stuff is always interesting to me because I feel like people think it’s a shortcut even though it’s that chasing the algorithm thing that to me is just a losing battle. It’s like, they’re going to keep changing the algorithm to stop people that are gaming it because they don’t want people to game the algorithm.

If you are trying to game the algorithm, you are now in a race that will never end. It just to me is a treadmill that I’m not interested in getting on. I still am thinking like, yeah, if you’re having to write a book every 30 days, let’s set aside discussions on how good the book could possibly be and just the amount of work you’re having to put into it.

Is it that much better? I one time in my 20s turned my passion into a job and it killed my passion because it became a 60-hour week job and I could no longer enjoy the things that I was doing. I just wonder, is it that much better than just getting a job and writing on the side and I’m sure there’s plenty of people that would like argue me to the death over this because they’re like well, you know, I’m making X amount of dollars and you know, I’m writing, I’m a full time writer and it’s like, okay, if that works for you, I’m not going to talk you out of it.

It’s just, at some point, you’re going to crash, either you’re not going to be able to keep up or the algorithm’s going to change. I’ve heard of the writers where they were like gaming the algorithm and so they change the algorithm and their income got cut in half overnight. It’s just dangerous to do that kind of stuff because again, you’re building your platform on somebody else’s platform.

You’re 100% relying on Amazon to find you readers. If they change, you’re fucked. It’s like, you need to figure out a way to build something where if Amazon changes, you can still survive. Trying to keep up with the algorithm is to me, again, I look at, I’ve been doing this for over a decade now, the authors that I have worked with that are successful for a long period of time are not chasing an algorithm.

[0:14:15.6] VF: Right.

[0:14:17.5] TG: They’re writing good books and building a platform.

[0:14:19.2] VF: It’s the slow and steady work, consistency over time, right?

[0:14:23.8] TG: Yeah, I think people are like, I think it’s a short cut or something, I’m like sure, maybe short, short term but like, anyway –

[0:14:35.0] VF: Okay, all of this led me to another thought. My daughter and I went to a movie on the weakened, and of the 12 cinemas at the theater, eight of them were superhero movies. Because this past weekend was Endgame, right? Six of them were Endgame and then a Captain Marvel and a Shazam!

[0:14:53.6] TG: Yeah, I balled my eyeballs out.

[0:14:54.7] VF: At Endgame?

[0:14:56.1] TG: Yeah.

[0:14:56.3] VF: Okay, no spoilers, we haven’t seen it yet, there were too many holes in our list of Avenger movie viewing so we haven’t seen it yet. We went to see Shazam! instead which is pretty funny.

[0:15:06.0] TG: Yeah, well, it’s DC, it’s fine but it’s not horrible.

[0:15:12.3] VF: I’m so glad you said that because it speaks exactly to what I was thinking. When I was there, I like superhero movies, I would have been into them more if when I was growing up, I was actually allowed to read them, because where I’m from, when I was growing up, there were things that were appropriate for girls to read and things that were appropriate for boys to read.

Superhero comics were boy things and I was never allowed to read them.

[0:15:36.5] TG: You were like literally not allowed to read them or is it just more like weird if you did?

[0:15:41.3] VF: No, I remember in my school library, I wanted to borrow a book, it must have been fantasy because I remember there was a dragon on the cover and the librarian took it from me and said, no my love, this is not for you, this book is for you instead.

[0:15:56.5] TG: That’s awful.

[0:15:57.6] VF: I know, it’s terrible. But when you’re nine, you don’t speak up. Now, dad bought me comics and stuff but they were Archie which I don’t know if you’ve ever read Archie comic books but man, there’s some disturbing messages in that. Anyway.

[0:16:14.9] TG: Never read one.

[0:16:15.6] VF: Archie’s a tool. Anyway, moving on. I’m standing there in the theater and I’m looking around at the fans who were there. I’m listening to their conversations and I thought, okay, these are true fans. They’re going to come, they’re going to stand in line to get tickets, some of them were in costumes.

They were having a great time. Now, I couldn’t follow the conversations I was eavesdropping on because I’m not into the universe as much as they are but it was very clear that they knew everything there was to know about this story, and all the various movies and the actors in and the writers and how it differed from or was the same as the comics, the story in the comics and all that good stuff. I’m in that environment looking at these people and listening to these people and this is right after I come across this article from the Brazilian writer who was trying to game the system.

I thought, all right, as a writer, I’m looking to develop readers who are like the fans of these movies who are fans of the story of the world, who appreciate the hard work and the craft that has gone into the creation of all this. Because it’s a lot of money but it’s also a lot of creativity and a lot of hard work by the writers and directors and actors and so forth.

That led me to come home and pickup Tribes. Seth Godin’s book and I know you really like this book and I’m going through it again, even though I’ve already read it a few times but each time I go through it, I pick up more information that I didn’t absorb the first time or the last time.

He says that tribes are a movement that they’re about change and that a tribe needs two things. A shared interest and a way to communicate. For me, the shared interest would be people who are interested in stories by, for and about women. A way to communicate, this is going to take me a while to build over time because the only communication I have right now is what Seth Godin calls permission marketing because it’s sort of out to me in form of an email twice a month.

Then back from my subscribers to me. It’s sort of only me talking to one person at a time where as in a tribe, it would be more like, for argument’s sake, a Facebook group where everyone can come together, talk to me, yes, but also talk amongst themselves.

[0:18:50.4] TG: Right, yeah.

[0:18:51.9] VF: I don’t have the ability yet to build something like a Facebook group because I don’t have the time for it yet and I can’t commit to it yet. But is that something like other than something like a Facebook group or a book club or these fan types of pages like you know Harry Potter had all kinds of fan sites pop up. I know Neil Gaiman fans have all kinds of places that they have created themselves where they can get together and talk. How can writers of fiction create these spaces for fans to gather and talk and interact?

[0:19:33.8] TG: Yeah, so there is a couple of things here. One is you have to have a kind of critical mass because – so I went to see Endgame this weekend and the theater is full but I would guess that like – okay, here is a good example. At the end of every Marvel movie is at least one extra scene, right? So you have to wait through. It is either you wait through half the credits get one scene, wait through the rest of the credits to get another or you wait through all the credits and get a scene.

So pre Endgame, so all the other 21 movies in the Marvel Universe, you could tell who the fans were by who got up when the movie was over, right? So I actually said it once, I forget after which movie because the movie ended. It was packed and two thirds of the people stood up as soon as it was over and started leaving. I was like, “Have these people never seen a Marvel movie?” right? So you could divide, I mean this is just a very crude illustration but I was at a different level of fandom than the two thirds of the people that got up and left.

Now in that extra third that was there, you probably had people like what you were describing that dressed up, had read the comic books, argued over the different timelines in the comic books. That is beyond what I am into, right? I am into the movies and a little more but I have never dove in and read all the comic books. So what you find is there is always a percentage of people that are going to really get into something and you need to have a big enough crowd that that percentage has some steam behind it, right?

Like a friend of mine posted a link to a Twitter thread of a bunch of Taylor Swift fans figuring out the best way to listen to her new single on all the different platforms multiple times to try to make the song the number one hit of the week, right? And my friend was like, “Oh to have fans like this one day” right?

[0:21:48.7] VF: Right.

[0:21:49.6] TG: Now the vast majority, so you have first you can divide the world into people that listen to Taylor Swift music and people that don’t, and people that listen to Taylor Swift music, a percentage of those that would go to a concert is much smaller. A percentage of those that have listened to every song would know every song is even smaller. The percentage that would actively recruit people to listen to the song on repeat all day 24 hours a day to help the song get to the number one spot is a whole other group of people.

So what I think is important early on where you’re at is you are not a place, if you think about Neil Gaiman, has lots and lots of titles. He is in a genre that is more apt for people to become fans, the fantasy, those kind of fans and he has a huge following. So I like Neil Gaiman. I have read a couple of his books but I am not like trying to connect with other Neil Gaiman fans you know? So all of that to say is the way that I have seen it work out in the world is you need enough people that the percentage that want to interact can’t there is enough of that, you know what I mean?

Then from there, I can do some things to encourage the interaction and you can do that now. We can talk about some of those but I think the important thing to remember is what everything that you just described of like the Neil Gaiman fans, the Marvel fans, my thing of Taylor Swift, the Taylor Swift fans, none of that is organized or had anything to do like the author or person in charge of that was not organizing any of that, right?

Marvel was not encouraging their fans to dress up and go to theaters, you know what I mean? Taylor Swift was not encouraging her fans to listen to her song on repeat to get the number one spot. It was very intrinsically organically motivated.

[0:23:52.8] VF: Right, exactly but that is the type of fan base that I think any creative is trying to develop. I don’t care what Neil Gaiman is putting out, I am going to get it, right? Whatever book Ian Rankin puts out I am going to get it. The same with J.K. Rowling you know there is a bunch of authors like that. I buy it and then I wonder what it’s about. Now, when talking about these examples. We are talking about people who have been doing it for 20 or 30 years, right?

So we are seeing what it looks like when it is fully developed. What I am trying to do is walk backwards from that and say, “Okay from where I am, if I am going to get there in 20 or 30 years, what do I have to do now? Where do I start? How do I start?” to other than the obvious things like making sure every book that I put out is the best one that I can write and those are a given. What else could I do?

[0:24:45.7] TG: Right, so I was going to start with the cliché answer, write the best book, right? So from there, there’s some things I think you can do. So one is you could start encouraging your audience to talk to you. So in your monthly emails about the book club, ask them to tell you what their favorite books are, right? Or when you do the author update, put a little PS and say, “Hey are you reading such and such book from the book club? I would love to know what you think. Just hit reply and email me back.”

[0:25:21.3] VF: Okay.

[0:25:22.8] TG: So start encouraging them to talk to you. I think that is a good place to start because the more that you can interact with your fans, the more you create long term fans. If you’ve ever paid attention to the way you feel about like a musician or an author before meeting them in person or seeing them in person and after meeting them or seeing them in person is totally different, right? If I am a fan and then I go see the person in concert, I walk away even a bigger fan you know?

So I think anything you can do to start interacting with people now when the fan base is low enough that you can keep up with one-on-one communication, getting them to email you back anything, ask them any questions, get them to interact with you in anyway and then reply to all of them even if it is like, “Thanks so much” you know? The other thing that you can do is start collecting their responses and sharing them with the community.

[0:26:21.5] VF: Oh.

[0:26:22.6] TG: Like last month, we read such and such book. I had five people tell me what their favorite part of the book and here is what they said. And it is from Anne of Maryland and Terry from Toronto and whatever and you start facilitating that kind of content back and forth.

[0:26:41.7] VF: Okay, I hadn’t thought of that one. All right, I can do that.

[0:26:45.5] TG: So then they’re kind of talking to each other not directly. It is through you but you are showing that there is discussions around what you’re doing, you know what I mean? And then down the road if you feel like the interest your book club is getting big enough, maybe you could start a Facebook group or Slack channel or something where you are actually having a discussion group around the book. So you are building a book club so you could interact.

And then I think the one thing that more authors could do is get their people together in person. So this is what I did and well I am going to do it again next month is every time I go to a conference where I think more than five people know who I am I host a meet-up and I get anybody that is a fan of mine or connected to me in any way to come to a place where I buy their first drink or whatever. So that I can meet them all in person and they can now they are –

We are all in the same room for the same reason, which is me. Yeah that sounds horrible but it allows the discussion to be centered around – I don’t have a discussion plan that everybody’s got to keep up with but it allows the discussion to be centered around book marketing and what my work is and it allows them to start doing what he describes in tribes, which is feeding off of each other basically.

[0:28:28.3] VF: Okay, just a follow up question to that. when you were talking about in my emails out to people, ask them to hit reply and tell me what their favorite part of the book was and so on, is it best to have just one call to action, just email me back as oppose to “you can reply to me, reply to this email or contact me on Twitter or here is my Facebook page” or whatever. Just have them do one thing, is that better or is it better to give them options?

[0:29:01.1] TG: So honestly I don’t know. I have only always had them. So when I’ve asked people to put stuff on social media it is so that they will share with their friends and family. I always look at their email and all they have to do is reply to the email to send me a message. So I always ask them to do that because it is the easiest thing, but you could test something else out. What I am trying to get when I do that is I want them to feel like they can talk to me.

And so when they reply to me and it comes straight to my inbox where only I see it and then I reply back and just say, “Thanks for the message” or “I really like that part too” or whatever, they have now interacted one on one in a private space, which to me is more meaningful than a public space, which maybe because I am old but I think that’s how I have always done it. I wouldn’t say I have tested that enough to know like, “No that’s the way you should do it.” I think whatever you want to do give it a try. You know the goal is to build up some personal interactions with my fans. Especially when you are at this level where, if a lot of people respond, is not overwhelming.

[0:30:15.0] VF: Right and I do reply to emails still. You know I am getting lots, but I am not getting so many that it is overwhelming.

[0:30:23.8] TG: Yeah, so looking for ways to for you to interact with your fan base and then as your fan base grows, look for ways to let them interact with each other both online but even better in person is really important. This is why with Story Grid, we decided to do the monthly conference thing because we know if we can get a couple hundred people in the same room, their love and loyalty to Story Grid is only going to grow because they are going to interact with each other over and we are the ones who brought them together.

But we couldn’t have done that three and a half years ago when we started because we didn’t have a big enough fan base to support people coming across the country to hang out with us for a couple of days.

[0:31:11.4] VF: Right, an annual conference not a monthly one.

[0:31:14.3] TG: Did I say monthly? God, yeah annually.

[0:31:17.1] VF: Before we get emails.

[0:31:18.1] TG: Yeah, sorry. Yeah so that is the thing and I mean I have even worked with clients that provided the infrastructure for their fans to set up monthly meetings in their town around the topic. So I work for Scott Densmoore who has passed away unfortunately a couple of years ago but he ran this thing called Live your Legend and he had this huge following and I helped him built out the infrastructure so that if you lived in the middle of nowhere Wyoming.

You could set up a Live your Legend monthly meet up and it would go on the website so that anybody else within driving distance knew Friday at 6 AM there is a Live your Legend meet up in the middle of nowhere Wyoming at the Barnes & Noble you know? And he did that because he knew the more people that got together around his flag, the more their loyalty and excitement about what he was doing grew but again, it is a chicken-egg thing right?

So I think it’s focused on building up your following and then as it is starts reaching a certain size start giving them opportunities to show up in person and start giving them opportunities to talk to each other and I think that starts accomplishing some of those things, but it is hard because when you read something like Tribes a lot of the examples he gives are these people that have huge followings existing and so you got to make sure like you can’t do that if you have a 100 people on your email list and you are getting an open rate of 40% because now you’re playing around with you know, one of the 40 is that interested.

[0:33:06.8] VF: Right. But everyone starts somewhere.

[0:33:09.5] TG: Right. I think it’s one of those, you start small with getting them to talk to you. Then, you kind of as they talk to you more and more, start kind of sharing what people are sharing with you. Then, as it grows from there, you start putting them maybe in an online form where anybody in the world.

And then as it grows from there, it’s like okay, well I’ve gotten enough people based in North America that I could probably get 50 of them to show up for a weekend somewhere, you know what I mean? Okay, now I’m going to do that. I’ve found and again, I pulled this from my clients, they would just do this around conferences. If they were going to a conference, they would let people know I’m going to be at this conference, they would let people know I’m going to be at this conference so if you’re you know, live in the city.

Or are attending this conference and know who I am, you should come. Right?

[0:34:00.9] VF: Piggy back off of an event that already exists.

[0:34:03.9] TG: Yeah, I’m doing this at the Craf + Commerce Conference. And then me and Jeff do one every year at the World Domination Summit in Portland and Rachel is putting together like a meetup of Story Grid people while I’m in town in Portland as well.

[0:34:19.8] VF: Cool.

[0:34:21.3] TG: Yeah, it’s that kind of stuff that is really fun and it’s also like you know, I am not very community driven so I tend to not do anything. I’ve seen it work really well for people who are community driven too. I just tend not to think about it but yeah. Is that helpful at all?

[0:34:43.6] VF: Absolutely. Well, it gives me some actionable steps that I can start working on now. I mean, all of this is long-term stuff, right? This is a long tail business, it’s consistency over time but it’s knowing what to do now and being strategic about the activities that I’m going to go engage in.

So that I’m not just throwing spaghetti at a wall which is what I was doing a year and a half ago, right? Now I have some actionable items that are strategic, that can get me to where I want to go over time.

[0:35:15.0] TG: Yeah, you know, another thing that you could do that’s kind of a mix of this is like if you’re going to a conference or you’re going to be somewhere like hosting a meetup of like people that love women’s fiction or whatever. Everybody that comes, you hand them a copy of the first book in your series.

[0:35:35.2] VF: Yeah, okay.

[0:35:36.7] TG: Right? You’re doing a mix of things. One, you’re focusing on your personas, you’re getting them to a place where you can talk to them and meet them and then you give them a copy of your book. If they read it and like it, they have already met you and they’re more likely to be a fan or yours because they met you in person.

You’re hosting the meetup around something that you all care about which is women’s fiction. It’s not as good as people dressing up as your characters and doing immediate meetup for your book but it is a stepping stone towards that.

[0:36:09.1] VF: All right, I like those, stepping stones towards my ultimate goal, works for me.

[0:36:13.7] TG: That’s right. That’s world domination.

[0:36:17.0] VF: Thank you, Tim.

[0:36:18.1] TG: Yup.


[0:34:26.9] TG: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Book Launch Show. For all the past episodes, the show notes, or to connect with me, you can go to booklaunchshow.com. I have dozens of free book marketing resources and articles that you can access at my website booklaunch.com. Lastly, if you like to support the show, you can do that by telling another author about the show and by visiting us on Apple Podcast and leaving a rating and review.

Thanks for subscribing and being a part of our work here at booklaunch.com. We will see you


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