Building a fan base long before the book or screenplay are done is paramount.
How do you build a fan base?
Fan by fan. The best place to start are social media. Start a page on Facebook, that you can later connect to your WordPress blog. Also do twitter.
Blogging for a writer is essential. It was the first recommendation I got from an agent.
“Start blogging,” agent Barbara Lowenstein said. “You should be writing reviews like crazy.”
I started blogging in January of 2013 to build my fan base. I chose WordPress for its impeccable reputation. I started with two follows from friends. Typically, I post twice a week.
What to post?
Give fans a value in your writings; whether it’s inspiration, information, entertainment, insights or a reprieve.
The best posts are relevant to what you are working on. Write about how you came up with the idea for your book, screenplay or business. How does it impact other people?
Why do you feel your work is important, and not just to you?
I can answer this one based on my new collection of short stories “Shifting Sands.”
The reason I put the collection of stories that span more than two decades, was preservation. I knew they would just get lost with time. I wrote some of them on my Smith Corona word processor with only a small screen that showed at the max three to four lines. I bought it for $450 in 1990 at a Kmart store in Big Rapids.
Later, I continued to build my fan base with my journalism career. But, I always had the book in mind first. It was the goal of my life.
Now, that the book is out, I continue to build my fan base with book signings and public appearances. I give it away at raffles.
I accommodate my fans by reaching out to them with also a private book signing, when they already bought one book for themselves and now they want it for a relative as a gift.
I made brochures about me and my book that I hand out wherever I can. I send out newsletters to my mailing list. If you don’t have one, create one. Use MailChimp. It’s free up to 2,000 emails.
Don’t just rely on the Internet to market your work. Be personal and be in the public eye. People love meeting up live with authors.
“How many people can say, they had an author at their museum,” said vice-president Tina Siciliano Cadwallader.
Plus, I love meeting up with fellow authors like Glad Fletcher during Christmas through Lowell. At the age of 80, she took a class so she could pen her memoir “My Garden of Stones.”
Glad is 85 now, and does all her own book marketing including public speaking.
My other favorite local author is the Oakwood Cemetery sexton Don DeJong. I bought his book, he bought mine. He writes stories about the people buried at the cemetery using old newspaper records.
Does being an author carry a responsibility?
You bet it does. People have expectations from you. You have to live up to them.
Whether people read your book or not is a factor you cannot control. The main thing is if they have it in their library. I read an interesting post from “Brain Pickings” on Facebook about the importance of having books at home, even if you’re not going to read all of them. It doesn’t mean you are ignorant or that you’re wastefully spending your money.
Why would you want a book that you’re not going to read?
It’s the energy behind the book that counts. You never know when you’re going to pick it up and just browse through it or use a Snippet for inspiration. I have tons of books that I use for inspiration including poetry and haiku. I also look for book cover ideas, formatting and quotations.
I compare my library to my garden and the books to my flowers. I don’t cut or pick all my flowers, but I enjoy all of them in their natural environment. They inspire and comfort me by their presence.
How do you stay motivated?
Solid motivation is a must to finish your work, whatever it may be. For me motivation is accomplishment. I need to have that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. The fans are also motivation when they ask you about your next book.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
All around me in daily happenings, in old magazines and newspapers. I also find inspiration in arts and old pictures.
When I had my book signing at the Lowell Arts Gallery, I was inspired by other artists’ energy and expression.
How do you filter through ideas?
Sometimes, I have too many ideas and I don’t know how to connect them. Then, I have to discard some or jot them down in my diary. I prioritize. Now, that I am working on my second book of short stories, I made an index of them. I can shuffle the stories around, as inspiration comes. You can do the same with book chapters or scenes.
What matters the most?
The most important is every day writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. Later, it will make sense. Establish your own writing routine. Listen to your fans and followers. They are your valuable readers.
Now this all could just be a theory if not put to work.
For more info on “Brain Pickings” go to: https://www.brainpickings.org
Watch for my series “Year in Review.”
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