Build the Right Audience

I’ve seen this happen far too often.

A fiction author wants to start a platform. Let’s say he’s a scifi author. So he sets up a blog and email list. He starts writing about the craft of writing. He discusses creating the characters, editing, second drafts, and so on.

It’s pretty exciting. He starts building a readership. His email list grows. People leave comments. Everything is going great.

Then it comes time to launch his next novel.

He follows all the advice about running a successful launch and then…

[crickets]

The book barely sells.

What went wrong?

Build the right audience

The author built the wrong audience.

In the above case, the author has built a following of other writers — NOT of scifi readers.

This is the same problem I’m facing down with the launch of my first novel, The Threshing.

I have a big 50,000+ person email list here at booklaunch.com.

However, I’ve built that email list around book marketing… not young adult dystopian novels.

So when I promote my book marketing books and programs, they sell great!

But when I launch my novel to the email list, I sell 200 copies.

200 copies!!!

With 50,000 subscribers.

What to do?

Just starting? Build the right audience.

If you’re just starting out, the goal isn’t just to build a platform. It’s to build a platform with fans that will actually buy your book. 

The process is this:

  1. Identify your ideal reader(s).
  2. Find places where they congregate online and in-person.
  3. Create content that will attract them to your platform.

If you skip step #1, you’re going to build a platform for a random set of people who are not going to buy your books.

[I specifically built Author Platform 101 to help you with this problem.]

Doing it wrong? Pivot or Branch.

Let’s say you’ve been building your audience and you realize you’ve been doing it wrong. Or, you’re like me, you built one audience for a specific reason, but now you’re doing something new.

You have two options.

Option 1: Pivot

Keep the same platform, just change it to the right topic to attract the right people. Don’t try to do this gradually. Send out an email, post it on your blog, etc. Announce that you were talking about topix X and now you’re focusing on topic Y, then just do it.

You’ll have some people unsubscribe or stop paying attention, but it’s fine. They weren’t going to buy your books anyway.

If your platform is small and relatively new, I recommend this option.

Option 2: Branch into Something New

If you’ve built a successful platform around a topic that is providing income and sales for your other books, there is no point changing everything. For instance, I’m not shutting down this website or changing it completely over because I am doing different stuff with my writing.

Instead, I’ve started a new platform at runningdownadream.com. It’s small and just starting out, but it gives me a place to promote my projects that aren’t book marketing without distracting or splintering this platform.

If you have an established platform on a topic but are working on an unrelated project, I recommend this option.

Dont waste your time.

If you’re going to go through all the work to build a successful author platform, make sure you are focused on attracting people that will actually by the books you are writing.

If you’re not sure where to start, I highly recommend my Author Platform 101 program.

 

Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl is the author of Your First 1000 Copies and the founder of BookLaunch.com. He has worked with authors for a decade to help them build their platform, connect with readers, and sell more books. He has worked 1-on-1 with over a hundred authors including Daniel Pink, Hugh Howey, Barbara Corcoran, Chip and Dan Heath, Sally Hogshead and many others. He has also launched dozens of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestsellers.

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