Book Trends Blog

January 31, 2012

Building Your Author Platform / Fan Base by Bob Spear

You’ve worked very hard to write your book and submitted it to appropriate agents only to be told they and the publishers aren’t interested because nobody knows who you are. That quickly becomes a dog chasing his tail or a catch-22 problem. How can you become a known and admired author if no one will publish you? The fix for this is to develop a platform or a fan base. The larger your followership becomes, the more books you will sell. The publishers want to use this as a marketing guarantee. It makes their marketing efforts easier and makes them more money sooner. So, how do you build a platform?

It’s not easy but it is doable. Here are some suggestions you may find helpful.

Facebook, UTube, & Twitter—Social networks are a free, excellent way to become known to people who count. Seek relationships with readers, other authors, book publishers, agents, reviewers, genera bloggers, and anyone interested in whatever you write about.

Book Signings—Don’t expect many sales at the signings. Instead, seek positive relationships with owners, managers, and staff who will hand sell your book long after you’re gone.

Interviews—This is a potential treasure chest. Radio interviews are the best because you do them from phone wherever you want to. I did so many radio interviews, that I was eventually offered my own show, which did for two and a half years. TV is more difficult because you must do it from or through a studio. Newspaper interviews can be done from anywhere that is mutually convenient; however, they are getting more difficult to get because of the weakening newspaper industry. Seek a good media booking agent to help you make all these connections. Make the interviewer look good.

Book Fairs—These are good ways to meet the reading public. Some are expensive, so pick and choose wisely.

Industry Trade Shows— These worked very well for me. I would book a couple of adjoining booth spaces, fill them with tables, put colorful table clothes on them, and set up collapsible wire racks. I would fill them with my books and other good books in my genre. I would give speeches and/or workshops and provide my mobile bookstore. I became very well-known for this customer base.

Regional Bookseller Trade Shows— Yes, the Book Expo America is better known, but it’s huge and very expensive. It is worth attending for the networking opportunities and education. If you really want to sell your books, however, go to the regional trade shows. To learn about these, go to http://www.bookweb.org/resources/regionals.html

Book Reviews— These are useful to let book buyers know about you and your book. Even the largest review services have begun charging for their reviews, so use them wisely Reviews make for a good source of marketing blurbs. Never send a book in the blind and expect to get a review—huge waste of money. Be sure to check the reviewer’s submission guidelines and adhere to them.

Book Award Contests— These can get expensive, so be judicious as to how many you register for.

Email Campaigns to Bookstores— Check with the American Booksellers Association for mailing lists at http://bookweb.org/indiebound/indiessentials and at http://bookweb.org/membership/products .

Speaking Engagements— As I mentioned before, this is a wonderful way to become known and respected.

Book Clubs— I went to a mini-trade show for military books, linked up with the editor from Doubleday’s Military Book Club, and sold 25,000+ copies each of two of my titles. They also used my printer and allowed me to participate in their printings of my books at greatly reduced prices because of the economy of scale.

These are some platform enhancing venues I have used to good effect in the past. If you find only one or two that work for you, you’re ahead of the game. Remember, you’re competing against 500,000+ new books a year. You have to work hard to get seen in a crowd like that.

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1 Comment »

  1. A treasure-trove of advice here from a true expert — Bob knows whereof he speaks.

    Comment by Peg Nichols — February 1, 2012 @ 12:33 am | Reply


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