How and Where to Find Readers for Your Books
Readers are everywhere! However, knowing your specific target audience will help you with the writing process, as well as your marketing strategy.
You just need to find out where they are in order to invite them to join your launch teams / street teams, and / or to download and read your books. So where are these readers? Where is this tribe of people who will read, review, and become ardent fans? Where are these people who will buy your next books in the future? Which readers do you not want?
Starting with You - You are in the Publishing Business
Your name is your brand. It is this name that is linked to your work, and will be linked to the success, or failure, you will achieve as a writer. Treat your writing as a business. Always. Define your brand. What sets you apart from other authors in your genre? What is it that makes your writing unique, or more attractive to readers? What is it that you offer? Now, define your target audience. Who is your ideal reader that would be interested in what you have to offer? Why would they care enough to buy your book?
There are 3 important arms to book sales, only two of which you can control:
Marketing, while a broad term, here, it refers to the information you gather in order to find your ideal target audience.
Advertising follows, after you know your ideal audience. This is the pitch to your known target audience for book sales and general interest.
Publicity follows next, and hopefully good publicity, where others start talking about your book, and promote it organically because they believe in your writing. However, even bad publicity can be good, if the book or author is controversial as it sparks interest, and people want to buy the book so that they can make up their own mind regarding the controversy in question.
Know Who you Readers Are
There is no point in looking for readers if you don’t know who, among that large pool of readers, you are looking for to read your book.
The world is full of readers. But which kind of readers will enjoy your book? Will they be male or female? Are they from a particular economic group, with a particular level of education? Will they have certain interests or hobbies? Will they be of a certain age group?
Does this group of people prefer buying e-books or paperbacks? Do they only read one particular genre? How often do they read? How often do they purchase? How much do they spend on reading material, per year? Do they only download free books?
All of this information, along with other reader qualities, is important in identifying who your ideal reader is. Now ask yourself this question. You now have your ideal reader, but is this population too small to sell to? Is it too niche? If the answer is yes, you will have a dedicated following, but you won’t make a living selling books to this highly specific group. You want to make sure that you get the targeting right from a large enough group that will make you a good living when selling to them.
Once you have a list of qualities pertaining to your ideal reader, draw up a character sketch for them. Give them a name, find a picture that represents the majority of this group of readers. Every email, blog post, Tweet or Facebook post about your book, anything related to your book advertising will have this person as the central figure in your mind, when making the pitch. Use a language style that would appeal to this group of readers. Would it be formal or informal?
Why You Don’t Want Everyone to Read your Book
You want people who will convert to fans later on, buying and reading your subsequent books. Your ideal target audience consists of those who like reading your genre. If you cast your net too wide, you end up including those who don’t like your genre, and if they are asked to read and review your book, or if you advertise to the wrong audience, you risk getting those dreaded 1 star and 2 star reviews. In addition, those people will never be fans.
You also open yourself up to this when offering your book for free. Although I am a huge advocate of using Amazon’s KDP Select’s free days for your book launch, there is this danger. When you advertise your book for 99c, those who purchase have made a monetary investment, and
- will more likely leave a review, and
- become a fan if they really enjoyed your work.
The Importance of Launch Teams and How They Work
Marketing your book, is not just the period that includes understanding your ideal reader, but it also includes using a small sample of these readers in a Launch Team. This is a dedicated group of people who will read and review your book and then give you an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads. These reviews validate you as an author, and your writing. It is also a safe environment where people can give you feedback on your writing, give suggestions for improvements, and even changes, if necessary. Listen to your group. They are there to support.
- Give them clear instructions so that they know what is expected of them.
- Send them the book in the format they prefer.
- Have a link in the back of the book, back to your sales page so that they can leave their review without hunting for the book on Amazon.
Readers and Reviewers you Don’t Want in your Launch Teams
Let’s get this out of the way, because it is good to see which readers you need to eliminate from the pool of potential reviewers.
Family and Close Friends
What you don’t want to do is to find readers who are family members or close friends. The reason for this is two-fold.
- First of all these people will not give you honest reviews. They will feel compelled to give you over-inflated feedback, and reviews that necessarily don’t have anything to do with reality.
- Amazon has feelers everywhere. Like a large octopus those tentacles can find a lot of information on you via the Internet, especially when you send out links to people about your book that are not ‘clean links’. As a result, you will lose any reviews posted by friends and family.
So, this takes us back to the beginning? Where do we find people for launch teams?
I have seen people talking about trolling through Amazon reviews looking for people who review similar books and then contacting those reviewers who have email addresses attached to their Amazon review profiles. In addition, because the job is so tedious, they then want to sell you a product that will do this automatically for you, but you have to shell out a couple of hundred dollars first. Please! Give me a break!
For every 1000 reviewers on Amazon you would be lucky to get 1 or 2 email addresses and out of those 2 if you contacted them, how many would
- reply or
However, if you have written more than one book, and have had good reviews, go through these on Amazon and see if there are any contact details there. These are your genuine fans. They enjoyed the first book, there is reason to believe that they will enjoy your others.
Your Part is Crucial in Creating Exposure for your Books
Hopefully, as a writer, you have followers on various social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and you have an author website. In addition, you also have a mailing list, where your subscribers have the option of hearing about your news, get to see book cover reveals first, and can download your new books for free, or at a discounted rate, when they come out.
This is also the target audience you can invite to be part of your launch team. The special invitation you are giving them, to read and review you next book before it is out for public consumption, will make them feel special, and will more likely give you a good review, because these are your fans.
If you don’t have any of the above in place, you need to, and you need to start now. These are your most ardent fans. They are on your mailing list because they want to hear from you again. They are keen to see your new books, and it is this group, more than any other, who will download, read, and review anything you write.
Using Social Media to your Advantage
Connect with people first, sell later. According to Mediakix, whose latest 2017 figures calculated that the average time a person spent per day on social media was broken down as follows: YouTube (40 minutes), Facebook (35), Snapchat (25), Instagram (15) and Twitter (one).
It is disappointing to not see Pinterest in the statistics, however, your strategic marketing plan should include connecting with people on a variety of social media platforms, in conjunction with email marketing and other marketing strategies that aims at reaching your target audience.
Focus on Facebook. It is where many people spend their time and where they are more actively engaged. Don’t underestimate Pinterest. Pinterest, will drive readers to your website if you create relative content in line with their interests and post images from your website to Pinterest that are unique, pretty to look at, and of interest.
The power of video cannot be ignored. YouTube is a large search engine and by becoming an expert within your genre, with regular video posts to your channel, this will help draw a large audience of potential buyers.
Using Genre-Specific Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are usually busy groups. Join those where you think people will enjoy your book if you asked them to join your team. Don’t join any or all groups you find. Join a select few that like reading what you have written. Genre-specific Facebook promo groups are highly advised here.
Interact with them for a while before bombarding them with requests to join your team. If you treat social media as a tool to connect and meet wonderful people where you can exchange ideas and help where possible, you will be amazed how that attitude will repay you when you reach out for help.
In addition, there are a number of Facebook groups that are run just for launching new books. My company runs one of these: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OSFLaunchTeams/
Here is another very useful Facebook Group Called 10 Minute Novelists: 10 Minute Novelists
There are others out there. Book Review Clubs, Reading Groups, etc. Use the Facebook search bar using keywords, and then search for groups rather than pages where you can join and meet like-minded readers and authors.
To give you an example, my last book was based on a true crime that took place in Glasgow, Scotland in 1857. I joined Scottish and Glasgow History groups and found a number of new and interested readers to join my launch.
Think outside the box!
Drilling Down within your Genre to Find More Readers
When it comes to finding readers and your target audience within your genre, sometimes this is not enough. I write about crimes that have happened in real life, usually during the Victorian or Edwardian eras. Because Creative Non-fiction or Fact Fiction is still not a genre, and Historical Fiction is too broad, I have to find readers who like murder stories based on facts, Historical Crime Fiction, or people who like fictionalised accounts of true crimes. More particularly, people who enjoy stories set during 1837-1901 for the Victorian Era and 1901-1910 for the Edwardian Era. These people make up part of my target audience.
Find people who like specific themes that run through your books, or threads. In my books these themes are early forensic science and police procedures in processing the crime scene. I can now add these interests to my list of qualities I need in my perfect reader. It seems to be shaping up nicely.
Find your Readers Among Other Writers
Invariably, you will find fellow writers in your hometown or in the near vicinity. Join your closest writer group.
They are invaluable for giving you feedback on your work and many would be interested in reading and reviewing for you because you have made a connection with these people, perhaps even become friends.
As long as you don’t add these people to your Facebook pages these friends stay under the radar from Amazon and reviews from these people will be accepted. Just don’t review their book in return. That is when red flags are raised.
It is far better to have a Round Robin review system in place in groups like these so that there are no reciprocal reviews being placed on Amazon, although there is no issue in them still reading your book and giving you feedback as a beta reader.
Of course there are other ways in supporting these authors - placing the review on Goodreads, your own author website/blog, and promoting their book through your social media platforms.
Authors supporting authors is highly rewarding and to be encouraged.
Connect with People on Forums like KBoards to Read and Review
KBoards.com is a great source to find people who might be willing to read your books. A large number of people here are authors and if you put out a request you are likely to come away with a couple of people who are willing to help out.
Another useful writer’s forum can be found at Absolute Write: Absolute Write Water Cooler
If you dig around you will find readers for your books. They are everywhere, you just need to know where to find them, and then narrow them down to only ask those who like reading your genre.
Blog Tours, Influencers and Book Bloggers / Book Reviewers
Finally, finding readers in this group, is incredibly difficult, and honestly, not worth your time unless you are an established author with several books written. Bloggers and book reviewers are usually swamped with requests, with the reading calendars fully booked for any time you would want to get some exposure. Unless you know someone, who knows someone, and get in through the back door, forget it. Don’t waste your energies here. Rather concentrate on those you can reach out to, and if bloggers contact you for some PR, you know you have made it!