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Monday, November 26, 2012

A2R Marketing: Fiction Writing - Growing a Fan Base

There is no other way to say this. Baby steps.

When I finished the final edits of my thriller and was waiting for the interior and exterior graphics to be completed and approved, I wondered why my experienced and already published friends laughed at me. They had this funny way of looking at me with a half smile on their faces. I think they referred to it as a "knowing grin." I was basking in the glow of having my book published and "out there" and they were treating me a little funny.

It took me a while to figure out why. They were letting me have my moment of joy of thinking my work was "complete" - letting me enjoy the feeling that a huge accomplishment had been made and now I could relax. The realization began to dawn on me when I was sitting back with a glass of chardonnay in one hand and the final proof of my book in the other. Books just don't sell themselves. They need an engine behind them.

Whether you're an independent author or have had your work supported by a publisher, the reality is this: Unless you're lucky enough to be John Grisham and have a full-blown and paid for PR kit, it is up to the author to get the word out about his or her book and to find the sweet spot of the book's fan base. There is no magic here about how this happens. It is good, old fashioned, nose-to-the-grindstone work. If you have a publisher behind you or are working the angles on your own, the skills relied upon are pure business development.

I'm up for that task. Most of my professional life has been devoted to sales, marketing and business development in one field or another. I can see a lot of parallels in getting a readership base going and getting a name for myself in my chosen industry. The one key aspect that is different in getting a book off the ground is the time it takes to develop a fan base. Not everyone reads a book a week, so this growth takes time.

And that's where the baby steps come in. This is not a sprint, but a well-paced marathon - one marked with very tiny strides.