How To Build A Fan Base
Let’s say you’ve just published your first book. You’ve posted about your pride and joy on Facebook and Twitter. You’ve booked some readings at mostly local and regional bookstores. Your first readings are attended by friends and family. A few of these people genuinely like your book because your shared aesthetic is part of what you drew you together. But how does it grow beyond that? I have a group of friends that love science fiction. I am not such a huge science fiction fan myself, but I have observed how they share their love of this movie or that book. Sometimes one of my science fiction-loving friends will recommend a book or movie and the others will then buy it or see it. This is how your fan base will begin to grow beyond the small immediate group of readers, by word-of-mouth from friend to friend. People love to share what they love with the people they love.
Sometimes, however, my science fiction-loving friends will have all read the same book or seen the same movie and they will get into a long and heated and discussion about its merits. If the discussion goes on long enough I can’t help but to remember the title and how favorable their reviews were. And so, for instance, one night I was looking for something to watch with my son, and I remembered them all going on about a show called Firefly, and so we watched it. I would not have thought to try Firefly were it not for having been in proximity to my friends’ discussion.
This is how your fan base will expand further. People not immediately drawn to your work will have heard about it and heard about it and heard about it until they want to see for themselves what the fuss is about. And if enough of these people start reading your book, now it will be as if a crowd has gathered in a large public square, and complete strangers will happen by because crowds attract crowds.
All of this, however, begins with one person – you. Your job is to write the book as well and as clearly as possible. Your job is to make it a book you would buy and you would be thrilled to read. The rest of the work of fan base-building is actually done by other people, most of whom are complete strangers. You can’t do it yourself. The job is too big. While the world is busy selling your book, write the next one. All those strangers who are now your friends in letters are waiting for it.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.