Sunday, May 12, 2013

Building the Buzz: Day 12 First Readers

So far on the local front, we've talked about companies and organizations that can help you. Today we talk about the most valuable resource found in every town no matter where you live: The People!

Happy Mother's Day, Buzzers!
One of the most effective, and at the same time elusive, methods for promoting your book is word of mouth. We know from our own personal experiences that a friend telling you about a great book they read is more powerful than any blog tour, newspaper story, or book signing. But how do you get people to promote your book for you.

I suggest you find your local target audience and create your first readers. Unless you live alone on an isolated island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, there are likely to be at least of few people who make up your target audience where you live.

This means, of course, that you need to know who your target audience is. If you aren't sure, check out these posts: Who is your reader and Where is your reader. Once you've got this down, you'll have to step outside of the solitary writer box and engage your audience.

But don't think I'm sending you to the wolves unarmed. Behold, a secret weapon!

Lean in close, I don't want this getting out all over the internet. Ready? Everyone wants to be first.

Don't believe me? Drive by an Apple store on the release day of their newest product or try getting last minute tickets to the midnight showing of this summers next blockbuster hit. What you'll find is hordes of people willing to sacrifice a large chunk of time (and money) to be first.

When you approach your carefully selected group of target readers, keep this in mind. You aren't just offering to let them read your book. You are offering to let them be first. You are making them an elite group with special status that has the power to turn your book into a word of mouth phenomena.

A few things to keep in mind. This shouldn't be a group of people who will probably like your book. These should be your very best, guaranteed to love it fans. Readers don't spread the word about a book they only liked.

Also, while book bloggers are great for a lot of things (more on them later), they are not your ideal first readers. Why? Book review bloggers are first readers for lots of books. So while they will promote your book if they like it, they are moving on to something else tomorrow. You need readers for whom "being the first" is a new experience.

Last, you've got to sell it. It's more than just targeting your first readers and handing out a few arcs. Maybe you have a special kick-off event just for these readers. You can read the first chapter, sign their books and send them on their way. Offer to meet up again in a few weeks so they can tell you what they liked and didn't like about the book. It doesn't matter that by that point it's too late to change it. What matters is engaging this group and giving them special status. Up the ante with swag or other special events. Don't forget to invite your first readers to any and all events related to the book. You have to stick with them or they won't stick with you.

Today's task, identify your target first readers, figure out the best way to get in contact with them, and brainstorm ways you can engage with them and make them feel special. Helping others to be number one can help you on your way to #1.


  1. Hm, this one seems harder than the rest and also one I had never thought of. People do love to be the first. I'm a YA writer, so I know my target audience is teens (late teens for my type of books, 16 - 18). It'd probably be best to find some of the teen goers to the libraries. I have a friend that runs a monthly book club for teens at the library.

    1. Kim, that is an unbelievable connection. Talk about a perfect set of first readers. :)

  2. I love promoting other authors. This community is amazingly supportive. Helping others means others will help you in return. :)

  3. You're absolutely right -- word of mouth is key to marketing a book. Since I got my agent, she's encouraged me to be more present on GR and FB. I'm in a number of Horror groups (my target audience), but they're an odd and cliquey bunch... Still, I'm giving it my best shot. :-)

  4. This is also A GREAT IDEA. I love the concept of selling them on the benefit to being first. I still recall that I met Stephenie Meyer because I knew her cousin right after the first book came out. I sold that book to dozens of people because I felt vested in her success!


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