How To Build Your Reading Audience In 2021

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According to a cursory search on Google, the number of self-published books are growing exponentially year on year. In 2018 alone, there were more than 1.68 million self-published titles, up from the 1.19 million books that were self-published in 2017. Despite my failure in locating the number of self-published books released in 2020, during my messy 5-minute foray into the world of Google search, I think it is reasonable to assume that the number of self-published books have again increased exponentially in 2020 and will be expected to continue doing so going into the new year.

Althugh there has been a massive spike in interest, with respect to self-publishing one’s own book without the help of traditional publishers, it is disheartening to read that, according to Forbes, only 1.8% of self-published authors made over $100,000 from their writing in 2013, compared with 8.8% of traditionally published authors. As such, although the trend clearly leans towards self-publishing as the future of the ebook market, there is still some ways to go before indie and self-published authors can make the same claim to fame and fortune as authors that decided to follow the traditional publishing route.

For me, the key reason behind this discrepancy in the successes between indie and traditional writers is due to marketing. By following the traditional route, authors can rest assured that the publisher will deal with marketing themselves, freeing the author up to pursue their creative ideas and threads rather than wasting time coming up with marketing techniques and methods that have nothing to do with crafting the perfect novel. In contrast, the self-published author needs to not only write the book, but to act as its own agent, marketer, editor, proof-reader, cover artist and distributor. It’s already tiring enough to work up enough creative juices to come up with a sizzling tag line for your book — it’s even more tiring when one has to consider the sizeable effort needed to come up with viral content that can help market your not-to-well-known book to, at best, disinterested or skeptical readers who have never heard of you or your work.

Based on my experience as an indie writer for the last few years, the following are tips, tricks and techniques I personally utilise to ensure that my book has a sizeable audience once it is published:

Curating an email list

If you can’t find them on social media, find them in their inbox. More and more authors are starting to come to the realisation that, in an increasingly loud and crowded social media marketing extravaganza that defines the new age method of marketing, sometimes a simple email is appreciated by those who want to get away from all the noise and want a personalised note from someone that they can trust, as well as actually wanting to give help back by listening to what your email has to say.

An email list is something of a treasure trove amongst indie authors. It usually consists of a list of names associated to persons who are interested in reading or purchasing what you publish. It can include the names of family and friends, plus a few others you may have bumped into at a social event recently, such as an online book fair, and wanted to keep in touch with your work. Having an email list results is a strong starting foundation for your marketing efforts — by sending a simple call to action via email, you can cut through the noise and clutter of social media by interacting directly with your intended audience. Without having to compete for their attention, your call to action can outline the background of your novel, why you thing they will enjoy it and inviting them to purchase it for a discounted price to try it out.

Below are a few methods you can choose to employ to try curating your own email list:

  • Including an invitation to subscribe to your email list on the landing page of your own author website (if you don’t have your own author website yet, now’s the time!)
  • Attending events in your local community, especially your local library, to start building relationships and receiving contact information in return.
  • Asking your close friends and family to market your book to others and to ask for emails in return for future updates.

An email list could be the perfect springboard you are looking for in order to get more relevant and personal eyeballs to your novel, as well as making sure your voice gets heard in the midst of the extremely crowded indie author scene.

Publishing smaller works, like short stories and novellas

Another method of making sure your voice gets heard is not through the use of traditional or newer marketing methods, but by ensuring that your work can be found on a variety of mediums via a number of platforms. In plain speak, publish more books! In this day and age of instant gratification, there is nothing more exciting than the fact that we live in an era where publishing a book can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Writing a full-length novel can take months, maybe years of hard work, focus and dedication. In addition to the time spent on writing your full-length novel, its success is not guaranteed once you publish it either as your published work ends up competing with other novels that not only have a similar storyline to you, but also come from authors that may have a far more established reader base compared to yourself. As such, you must come up with a method that will enable your voice to be heard on an equal platform as these more established authors, which will tempt readers to give your novel a shot.

One method of amplifying your voice is by multiplying your voice. By releasing a number of shorter but high quality novellas and short stories, you allow readers access to a sliver of your talent, a little taster to what you can accomplish once given the freedom required to flex your talent when writing a much larger novel. Novellas and short stories allow you to craft a shorter, punchier novel that highlights the best your writing talent has to offer, as well as giving your readers a primer of what they can expect when your full-length novel eventually hits the shelves.

If you’re interested in pursuing this route for your own marketing efforts in 2021, feel free to read my other article on tips and tricks to employ when writing your very own novella, which I have used personally to great success for my two published novellas on Amazon.

Reviewing novels published by other indie authors

Finally, one last trick up your sleeve when it comes to promoting your works and voice in 2021 is through promoting the works and voices of others in your professional capacity as a writer. I’m talking about reviewing — defined as the provision of objective criticism of one’s work through the lens of a subjective reader’s mind.

I’ve been working as a reviewer now for more than a year and, believe you me, it is enriching and rewarding work. Marketing yourself as a reviewer of the works of other indie authors not only brings about the added benefit of supporting the nascent writing career of your fellow colleague, but also allows you to connect to a wider network of like-minded individuals who would be grateful for honest feedback or review of their works. In exchange, most would usually provide you their contact information, such as their email, which you could then contact them directly for either reviews or to purchase your novel once it is released.

Conclusion

Following the tips and tricks below could see your own readership audience skyrocket for 2021. Stay safe, healthy and, as always, write on!

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