This question sucks because 1) no one knows the answer, and 2) even if they do, their answer might not work for you.
What are the variables that make one person’s amazing results different from someone else’s?
* Genre. Thrillers. Contemporary Romance. Urban Fantasy. Epic Fantasy. Someone might have just had a great launch of their Suspense novel and you want to duplicate that for your Bigfoot Romance. Their methods probably won’t work for you.
* Quality. Your friend may have paid out $400 for a quality cover, had two editors edit it, and used a professional formatter to make their insides look as professional as they can look. You don’t have a budget like that. If you don’t, you’re already a million miles behind your friend–even if you write in the same genre.
* Your friend has a backlist and you don’t.
If you take into consideration these three things, answers to the question, where do you find readers, are going to be incredibly different.
A quick note about GENRE before we move on: you’re writing what you want, but you do have to keep in mind that the more niche you write the more you shrink your audience. On the other hand, you have a better chance at standing out in a smaller niche. At any rate, here’s a nice chart. If your goal is finding readers in a bookstore (you’re probably querying then), you need to know where the little high school girl who stocks books after classes is going to put yours. Knowing your genre also makes marketing a bit easier because, hey, no one reads all the books, and you only want people who read your genre to read your book.
You know how in the grocery store you have to choose between a dented can and a can that’s not dented? Which do you choose? The undented one, right? Because we’re trained to look for things that are perfect. We don’t buy apples with bruises, we buy the milk behind the first one. When you are asking your potential reader to choose between your poor-quality cover, bad blurb, and insides with typos against a book with a nice cover, an intriguing blurb, and insides without typos, who do you think they are going to choose?
This seems like a no-brainer, but authors are too close to their own books to see if something is working, or, more specifically, not working. I’ll show you what I mean:
This is the sell page of my book, Don’t Run Away. It’s the first in a trilogy. People look at these things when they bring up your book be from an ad, from a friend’s recommendation, whatever.
- A good cover. You need one. YOU NEED ONE. I’m not saying mine is the best, but hoo-boy, it’s better than some out there.
- A nice author photo. No one talks about these, but with social media, readers want to interact with their favorite authors. They want to see you are a real person. If they tweet to you that they enjoyed your book, or if they say Hello on your FB author page, they think it’s really cool when you say thank you, or Hi! back.
- Well-written blurb. You need a good blurb to draw them in.
- The reviews help. The more the better, obviously, because. . .
- Amazon is more than happy to show your potential reader something else they can buy instead of your book. If your cover and blurb miss the mark, they offer another choice in the same genre your potential reader can click on.
If you take a look at the screenshot above, you can see the book they are advertising at the bottom has a nice cover and more reviews than mine. At that point, I’m hoping my blurb brings them in, or the first couple sentences of the look inside if they make it that far.
If you’ve written a strong blurb and you make your potential reader click READ MORE look what happens:
The ad disappears. We don’t have very long attention spans. A good blurb could mean the difference been a sale and a pass.
I watched Bryan Cohen and Chris Fox tear part a couple of covers and blurbs on a recording from a 20 books to 50K conference this year in Vegas. Take a look and see if you can make your selling page better:
No one thinks about backlist when we look for readers. But the fact is, self-publishing is a vicious and competitive environment. These days to find any traction, you need to have about 15-20 books written already. When I first started publishing, that number was six. Self-publishing has exploded to the point where 50,000 books are self-published every month. (That stat was pulled, I think, from Michael Anderle during this same conference.)
The most important thing that self-published authors have is a backlist of 15-20 books. This is because most self-published authors make the bulk of their money on their backlist. — The Complete Creative
The idea is that if you manage to pull one person into your readership, you can offer them more than just one or two books. You want them to read them all.
You can liken finding readers to any cliche you want. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. Start at the base of the mountain and work your way up. It all amounts to the same thing–finding readers takes a lot of time.
No one disagrees it starts with the best book you can produce. And then write another.
Stay tuned for part two of where to find readers!
Until next time!