Someone recently posed the question, "If you were starting over in your indie publishing career, what do you know/do now that you wish you'd known/done back then?"
For me the answer was easy. I wish I had known the value of authentic engagement with my readership and taken positive steps from the get-go to do that. In fairness, options were limited then compared to now. Facebook, Twitter, and other current popular forms of social media weren't a "thing" yet (If memory serves, Xanga was just catching on. I'm old.) nor were automated newsletter services like MailChimp. Nevertheless, there were plenty of things I could have done or done better.
We'll discuss the "hows" of audience engagement in subsequent posts, but today we'll discuss the "whys".
Your Readership is Your LifebloodThis one is obvious.
-Writing for writing's sake has its rewards, but if no one is reading your work, your book is the proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one around to hear it.
- If no one is buying your books, you can't make a living with your writing.
-Word of mouth is essential. Readers are often more than happy to spread the word if they enjoy your work and have had positive interactions with you.
Direct Access to Your Readership Lets You Build Advance Interest in Your Forthcoming Works
- Teaser snippets, preview chapters, cover reveals, and release date announcements are great ways to get readers excited about your work.
- In today's market, with so many great books being published, it's easy to be forgotten. Direct connections with readers helps keep you and your work in their minds.
You Can Do Your Own Promotion
- We can't always count on Amazon, for example, to send out notices of our new releases. Having reliable ways of reaching your audience allows you to get out the word on book launches, which will help you gain visibility in the stores, as well as keep readers abreast of sales and other things you'd like them to know.
A Dedicated Core Readership is Essential for Indie Success
- Reaching a wide audience can be a challenge for an indie, but the nature of indie royalties being what they are, you need only a modest core audience to support yourself and your work.
- Let's do some quick math. Suppose you have an audience of 5,000 readers who will buy your new book within the first six months of publication, and you publish your books at $3.99. Depending on the vendor, you'll earn about $2.75 per ebook sold. Three books a year, and you'll earn $41,250. Two books a year, $27,500. Not amazing, but more than a lot of midlist traditionally-published authors are earning from much wider audiences. Of course, those books will continue to earn over time, so you can add your backlist income to income from your new releases. Also, assuming readers enjoy your books, your audience will grow.
- Not everyone will be able to produce that quickly, especially those of us who are working another job, are in school, or have other obligations. That's another reason why we should work on engaging with readers while we're progressing toward our goal.
It Keeps You Motivated- It wasn't that long ago that the only ways to interact with an author were to meet her/him at a book signing or write a letter and hoped it reached the addressee. Now readers can reach us in a variety of ways. There's nothing like receiving a tangible reminder that someone out there loves your work, especially on the days the words don't want to flow.
That's it for today. Next time we'll move into the nuts and bolts of engagement. Talk to you then!