11 Ways to Build an Audience for Your Writing

Written by Eric Vance Walton | September 5, 2013

Building an audience of readers is of the utmost importance for all authors who wish to make a living and a name for themselves at their craft. You must have readers to sell books and finding those readers who connect with your work isn’t always as easy as you think it will be. The following are some tips for earning readers that I’ve learned in my twenty years of writing.

1. Don’t be afraid to “run your mouth.” Learn to become comfortable telling anyone who is willing to listen that you’re a writer, as well as what you’re working on. Sometimes readership is best gained at the grassroots level, one person at a time. Remember, you never know who you’re crossing paths with and who they might share your information with. Remember six degrees of separation?

2. Be genuine, always. If you stick to this adage you will be creating your ownindividual brand with each word you write. Each of us are unique, gifted with our own voice and perspective. Be yourself when conducting business face-to-face as well as in your writing. People will sense it, respect you for it and you will more likely find the audience that’s already searching for you.

3. Create a blog and post to it regularly. In the last few years Facebook and Twitter have stolen lot of the spotlight but never underestimate the value of a blog. Contributing regularly to a blog (a la WordPress or Tumblr) serves the dual purpose of keeping your writing skills razor sharp while attracting precious readers. I have four times as many followers on my WordPress blog than I do my Facebook author page.

4. Have business cards on you at all times, especially when traveling. Think simple and classic. In this digital age it might seem old fashioned but business cards will always be an effective tool. When you start to chat it up with that stranger sitting next to you on the plane a business card will allow you to leave them with something to remember you by.

5. Know, learn about and study your market. Brainstorm about ways to cross-sell your books. Which organizations or businesses would have a customer base that would seem like a natural fit for your writing? The larger the organization, the better. For example, if meditation or spirituality is a common theme in your writing seek out meditation businesses or groups to see if they will give you access to their members. This works on social media as well. A properly placed link on the right Facebook page can translate into many new readers and potential customers. Many times all you need to do is ask.

6. Work smarter. Marketing is hard work and it also takes you away from writing so think of ways to make the best use of your time. Link up your Facebook, Twitter, Blog and LinkedIn accounts so when you post something to one it will automatically post to the others. This creates consistent content and will free up more of the time you would typically be spending on marketing so you can use it to write. Don’t forget to create a LinkedIn account to promote your writing. LinkedIn is growing fast and should not be overlooked.

7. Be generous. Run regular promotions on your social media pages. Get outrageous and be creative! I have a “Reader Appreciation Friday” most every week on my Facebook author page and offer a free eBook to the first person to send me their email address via Facebook inbox message. Ebooks cost you nothing and promotions like this are fun and will help you create a buzz about your projects. I will occasionally even give away physical copies of my novel. When I travel I bring a couple of autographed copies of my book and will give them away randomly to strangers I cross paths with. I’m making others happy and view it as an investment in the future of my writing career.

8. Pay close attention to which promotions work and which don’t then shift time and energy towards what gets results. When promoting on social media especially, make note of what translates into what is engaging readers. Keep experimenting until you find things that translates into sales, likes and comments. I’ve found that boosting posts on Facebook (paying for them to place your posts in the news feeds of strangers)
might increase your total outreach but doesn’t always translate into as many “likes” or purchases as you might think.

9. Do book signings. Seek out independent local bookstores especially and ask if they will carry your book. Most will do this on a consignment basis even for self-published authors. After a couple of months and a few sales ask to get on their schedule to do a book signing event. Customers at small local bookstores are usually fiercely loyal and avid readers and it’s great to have these types of people on your side.

10. Always have your eyes open and be actively learning about what other successful authors are doing in terms of marketing. Don’t study those who are at your level, study the techniques of those authors who are a few rungs higher than you on the ladder. Discover what works for them in regards to attracting readers and try it for yourself.

11. Contact your local public or college radio stations. Explain that you’re a local author and you’d be interested in doing a radio interview about your most recent project. People who listen to public radio are typically interested in books. However small the audience, with each media interview you take part in you will gain skills and become more comfortable and relaxed. This will be great practice for when you’re eventually being interviewed for Oprah’s Book Club!

Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, author and poet based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Eric invites you to “like” his Facebook author page to receive updates and promotions on his projects. Also visit Amazon.com and iTunes (links below) to learn more about his most recent suspense novel Alarm Clock Dawn. Visit his Facebook Page, or buy his book on Amazon.com.