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How to Build an Audience for Your Novel

fauziaOur guest today is Fauzia Burke [1], the founder and president of FSB Associates [2], an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors [3] (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer, and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes regularly for the Huffington Post.

I am passionate about helping authors navigate the ever-changing landscape of online marketing. I hope every author takes the time to find and connect with their audience in a smart and strategic way.

For online marketing, book publishing, and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter [4], Facebook [5], and on her blog [6].

How to Build an Audience for Your Novel

As authors, it can make us feel good to think our books are for everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The more work we do to identify our niche audience, the better books we can write. We can save time and improve our community building and marketing efforts when we can describe our specific readers—those genuinely interested in what we have to say.

Nonfiction writers have it a little bit easier than fiction writers. Nonfiction authors can ask two questions to really understand their audience: 1) What problem am I hoping to solve with my book? 2) Who does my book help? For the fiction writer, it’s a more difficult process, yet equally important. You might be wondering: How can I know my audience if I haven’t even started my book yet? To that I say this: You know more than you think you do.

Here are the best ways to figure out your audience.

Determine what demographics you do know. Guess their age range, gender, and geographical region.

Describe your book. What themes will your book have? Characters? Plot summary? Areas of interest? Time period? By thinking about these main features of your book you also might be using words that aptly describe your audience.

online-marketing-for-busy-authors-sidebarThink of one person. The best writing happens when an author is writing for one person. That one person represents an author’s larger audience—with similar values, interests, and traits. Honing your audience helps you write for that one person and your niche. If you had to boil your larger audience down to one person who represented your community, how do you describe that person? Write down what comes to mind.

Make a list of interests. People who are interested in my book are also interested in _______________. Maybe your answer is Irish history, true crime or fashion. What magazines would your reader likely pick up? What TV shows or movies would my audience like to watch? What books is my audience likely to read?

Use Twitter to hone in on your fans. What book (already published) is most similar to the book you are writing? Find those authors online and study their followers. Do you think this is your audience too? If so, what are your takeaways? What distinctions do you get from looking at a similar audience?

Use Twitter to follow other authors with similar books and learn from them. What are they sharing? How are they building their communities?

Use Google and Facebook. Use some of the keywords from your book to search Google and Facebook to find your audience. You also may find blogs, organizations, groups, businesses, and products that are comprised of your ideal audience.

Connect with similar authors and influencers. While you are writing, be generous to other writers. Tweet about their books. Review their books. Share their posts and help raise their social media presence. Start to build a network on generosity through giving. This way when you need their help, they will be more than happy to return the favor.

Identify what makes your book special and how that applies to your readers. What sets your book apart? Are your readers serious? Light-hearted and whimsical? Do your readers love mystery? Romance? History with an imaginative twist?

Write reviews for Goodreads and Amazon. You can build a following by doing so.

Write about why you like to tell stories. You can write about your craft of writing, but a more personal story that explains your love of storytelling might be more popular.

Tell short stories that might become part of your larger fiction book. See who your stories attract. As a novelist you could build a story within the story. Write short stories or vignettes that get people excited about your characters.

Explain your passion. Tell people why you want to write about your topic.

Share some truth. Every fiction work or novel has an undercurrent of truth—whether it’s a snippet of history or a life lesson. As you do the research for your book, keep your audience in the loop. Share interesting things you are learning to attract people who want to read more from you and are suited for your book. Pay attention to who follows you as you interact and take notice of the websites you search—all more clues to identifying your audience better.

Make sure your book—from writing to design—reflects the type of readers you have identified. Now that you know more about your ideal audience, you can begin connecting with them online. The best time to build your community is as soon as you have an idea for your book.

What are some of the ways you identify and connect with your community of readers?