I hear a lot about "branding" from authors who are just starting out--and some of the more established ones as well. Too much time and effort is given, though, to the numbers aspect. People want to see 'conversions' and increased traffic. I hear constant chatter about rankings and sales data.
What I'm not hearing or seeing much of is fresh content. I'm not referring to new releases--I am talking about blog posts or Facebook posts that have nothing to do with your book. Bestselling authors--authentic bestselling authors--know how to do this well.
In the real world, people are bombarded with sales messages. Buy this, go here, do this. Adding your sales pitch to the fray twenty times a day is not going to compel someone to buy your book. Who are you anyway? Why should they take a chance on you? You're a new-to-them author...what sets you apart?
Oh, but I have a cute cover, you might say.
So does Sally Sue.
Oh, but my blurb is outstanding.
Great, but who cares when there are literally thousands of authors out there?
I have an award!
*eye roll* The average reader doesn't care about awards, they care about content. Are you really any good? Will they like your style? Will they like your characters? Do they trust you to deliver? Slapping an award sticker on your marketing, does not tell them any of the above.
What does? Fresh content that you provide via your blog, Twitter, articles in magazines, and creative Facebook posts. Show a reader that you know how to be funny or vulnerable--or both. Let them see your writing style without shoving a sales pitch down their throats every five minutes.
Relationships matter. People tend to buy from those they trust, someone they have interacted with in blog comments or on Facebook. They may start out by following your blog, reading several posts, and then deciding they want to buy your book (s). If you're clever, authentic, and interactive, not only will you attract new readers, you'll build a loyal following.
The key here is the word 'authentic'. No one likes to feel they are being lied to or manipulated--or that you only see dollar signs when interacting with them. Create posts that allow people inside your world--let them relate to you.
There is a bestselling author who is actively involved in animal rescue, for example. A lot of her posts are about the animals she's saving, their personalities, their sorrows, their triumphs--only every so often does she mention her writing. Guess what? Her preorder sales go through the roof and her new releases are always much anticipated.
Another bestselling author talks about her hikes around Lake Tahoe. She shows her daily "writing view" and posts photos of her dogs misbehaving while she's trying to meet a deadline.
Yet another is a chocolate fanatic and is always writing about something gooey and delicious.
All of the above authors I mention don't hide that they are working on new projects or that they have a new release. Quite the opposite, actually. They have built such a relationship with their audience that they're able to say, "Hey, I have a new release this month and need your help with reviews...who wants an ARC?" and they have an immediate and passionate response from their readership.
Anyone reading this can begin this approach today. Just be yourself. Stop stressing over numbers and traffic. Stop bombarding people with your sales pitch. If you're about to say that you don't have time, I would hope by now that you know I do not believe that excuse. In fact, I loathe it.
If you have time to check your Amazon ranking ten times a day, bitch about the lack of reach your most recent sales' pitch post on Facebook received, or lament the overcrowding of Twitter with other author's sales' links, then you have time to sit your butt down and write at least three posts a week. Minimum. You're an author! I'm not going to tell you what to write. I've spoken about the necessity for authors to blog before and will link to that post here.
Be human. People want to connect with you. They want to know what makes you tick--not just via a blog, but on your Facebook and Twitter feeds as well. They like thinking that they have a friend in you--and, honestly, some of them start to feel that way when they are the first to rally around your new releases.
So many authors complain that they can't find readers, yet they are not looking in the right places. They are sending out wave after wave of spam. I want you to think about this--how often do you scroll past what looks like just another sales pitch, someone wanting your money? How often do you stop scrolling when you see a post that has genuine emotional appeal, something that feels real and honest?
Relationships matter. Perhaps stop spending so much time chatting with other authors who are also stuck in second gear doing the exact thing you are and start cultivating a genuine connection with your readers.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.