9 Ways to Help You Find Your Readers Part II

find your audienceLast week I talked through the first five of nine ways you as authors can use to find your readers.

These were all lessons I’d learnt from a pile of marketing books I’d read over the last month. The post was too long to have it all in one blog, so here are the second half of the ‘ways’.

The first five ways included:

  • Defining your audience
  • Connecting in a meaningful way
  • Strategising your social media usage
  • Being your own fan
  • Advertising

You can see the details of those ways here.

WAY 6 – CAPITALISE ON LIFE, THE UNIVERSE & EVERY ATOM IN-BETWEEN

I’m 100% cheating, there’s about eleventy hundred ways in this one. *shrugs*

Anyway, you need to be el Captaino Capitalise. Literally.

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon. Purchase here.

Board Game Your Way to A Permanent Salary

One of the principles Joanna Penn talks about is preventing one organisation, say the rainforest of books, from having a monopoly on your earnings. If they fold, you’re in a world of cauldron boiling shit. Penn works on the principle of earning small amounts of money from as wide reaching markets as possible.

The opposing move is KDP but there are debates on the benefits of the exclusive-no-marital-affairs-allowed-KDP programme (like, its really only beneficial if your a first time author, or only have one book in it). She argues you should play the long game and, capitalise on the opportunity to grow your presence on all platforms: iTunes, Kobo, Nook blah, blah, blah.

But it’s more than that. You need to capitalise on each book like its an asset, because guess what, it is an asset. If you write non-fiction, ask yourself whether you could have a workbook to go with your content? Could you create and sell video courses?

If you’re a fiction author have you got both paperback and ebook? Do you have audio books? Have you got novellas set in the same world? or even merchandise? All these assets are different income streams, and if you have them in more than one country, then all of a sudden you have little golden pots of dosh from many, many sources.

The other reason you need to capitalise on your assets is because if you need to sell say 100 books a month to make a living, then only having one book or one asset i.e. only an ebook, makes that quite a task. If you have split your asset into 5 different streams, and have it accessible in dozens of countries, it becomes easier because you only have to sell 20 copies of each asset. If you have 10 books all split into different assets all of a sudden you have created your own little empire and the possibility of selling 100 ‘things’ becomes a LOT easier.  But even more exciting is the fact that having ten assets makes your chances of being seen increase tenfold. It’s the compound effect. Small increments, small sales over a lot of assets = bigger audience and bigger income.

Simply, my point is this: Spread your book seed like you’re a school boy slut.

No Wants Just One Doughnut

If you open a box of Krispie cremes, a box of chocolates or start slicing a cake, lets be honest, no one wants just ONE piece of sugar heaven. Deep down, we’re all addicts. I want to rub that chocolatty goodness all over my body while I motorboat the cake and have a doughnut eye mask for dessert.

But it’s not just food. We are a binge nation, I’ve confessed my binge habits before, but society at large binges on books, TV series and films. We have to consume EVERYTHING NOW, NOW, NOW. So capitalise on it. If you write series rather than one offs, then readers will come back for more, they will consume your series faster than I can munch a bag of cookies.

Also, it is much harder to sell one off books than series. This is because of the principle I mentioned above – the more assets (or books in a series) you have, the easier it is to be ‘seen’ plus you hooked people in once, why waste the opportunity to have them hankering after more?

Perm Your Book 80’s Style

Okay, I don’t mean give it a curl to compete with mine (mine’s like a telephone cable). I mean that nifty little tactic of setting something permanently free.

Usually the first in a series. Why? Because it’s a hook, it will draw people in, you can campaign with it, and everyone loves a bargain. Capitalise on it too – by having links straight to your subscriber list at the end of the book.

Funnel Like a Tornado

If you’re going to capitalise on the referrals from your free book, you need to ensure that wherever you direct them, it’s to somewhere with no distractions (like fun blog posts or interesting social media links) wherever you send them, ensure its a page free from distractions. The only thing you want them to do is sign up to your subscriber list.


WAY 7 – MANTRA MAIL

I know. I know. You’re sick of me talking about email lists. But honestly, I’m just repeating what the big guns say. I’ve talked before about: creating a mailing list, errors to avoid, and ways to increase your list.

But honestly, I can’t help but be sucked in by the glorious silky logic they spout.

Say the book rainforest fails, the company folds and that’s the only way you sell books. You’re fucked. Fucked like Titanic meets iceberg.

BUT, say you have an email list, a method of contacting people direct, something that drops into their personal sphere of attention. All you need to do is email your list and BOOM, you’re selling books again.

The reason email is the best form of marketing, is because unlike social media (where most people scroll past you like their flicking a bogy away) email is direct. Personal. Most of us open it.

If you get them to open it, and you hook them in the first sentence you are FAR more likely to sell them a book.

See… gorgeous logic…init…? *drools*


Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon. Purchase here.

WAY 8 – GET YOUR GEEKY MAGPIE ON

I can often be found goggle-eyed fingers trying to touch everything in the shiny gadget store that only ever eats half an Apple.

It’s because deep down, I am a child – a magpie child – and children like toys. Well, it just so happens that the magpie god herself has bestowed glorious gadgety wonderment on writers: A plethora of software goodies.

Now, I am not going to go into lots of recommendations because a) I haven’t tried and tested the software and therefore won’t recommend it, but b) because these people great and glorious pen scribbling monsters are authors too, so go buy their books.

What I will do, is outline the kinds of squeal inducing software out there which they recommend in their books:

  1. Keyword tools. Nick Stephenson, recommends a couple of tools that you can use with Amazon to take the hours out of trawling through searches on the book rainforest. The software helps you make strategic decisions on what words to use in your book’s information.
  2. Various plugins to help you customise what they call a ‘squeeze page’ a page to drive people to your email list.
  3. Programmes to trick Amazon so you can have universal links and earn affiliate commission on your own books.
  4. Analytics software to ensure you are measuring campaigns effectiveness and growing your website.
  5. Other non-software related stuff included: Photographers for author photos, book cover designers, editors and websites to help you design and create online courses.

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon. Purchase here.

WAY 9 – $64 MILLION DOLLARS OF BLOG HAPPY 

Let me ask you a question. Before you became serious about writing, before you put pudgy fingers to clackity keyboards, how did you find the books you read?

As a wee angry teeny bopper I found books in libraries, bookstores and through word of mouth. (the internet wasn’t… ahem, fashionable then didn’t exist.)

Now, (with the exception of all the book reviewing sites like, Rosie, Linda, Sarah and Shelley to name but a few, who I constantly get recommendations from), I find books in all the ways I used too, and through a few more too:

  1. Looking at the Amazon ‘recommended for you list’ (which is created when you buy a book – it then suggests things similar to your purchases).
  2. The Amazon ‘inspired by your wish list’ section
  3. I receive Goodreads emails – in particular a monthly newsletter that has the latest releases and hot books in genres I like.
  4. I also get an Epic Reads newsletter that is specific to Young Adult books
  5. Instagram – until I wrote this post I didn’t realise thats how I was getting book suggestions but it actually is. I follow lots of YA reviewers on instagram and they constantly put photos of books up, many of which I either haven’t read, or haven’t heard of. So I trundle off to Amazon and put them on my wishlist.

How do you get book suggestions? Let me know in the comments below.

Why am I asking where you find books? Because there is, or at least there used to be, a myth perpetuating blogging: that blogging should be an authors platform because it sells books. But how can it sell books (in the mass selling kind of way rather than the odd one or two) when readers aren’t looking to buy new books on blogs.

So should you blog?

Well gosh darn now that’s the ultimate evil bitch of a question. Look folks, I ain’t guna sit here and tell you one way or another. At the end of the day, we all have our reasons for blogging irrespective of bloggings book business benefits (#ExcessiveAlliteration). Some do it for the social side, others therapy and all the reasons in between.

Me? Well, I blog in part for the social side and partly because its a timeless place to log all the lessons I’ve learnt on my journey and that saves me looking like the bag lady who carries around 3467 notebooks full of scraps of paper.  Both reasons mean I’ll carry on whether it’s helpful for selling books or not and I hope that’s the same for you.

But some people come to blogging thinking it will sell books. Hate to piss on your bonfire, but it won’t. Not in a strict click-to-conversion style of book selling you’d get from advertising.

The consensus seems to be, and let me caveat this with a big juicy blog sundae caveat, it kinda depends on:

Your business model – Are you a fiction only author? Or do you write non-fiction?

According to the experts, as a purely fiction writer, blogs are less important – I mean, I haven’t google searched the authors of the last few YA fiction books I’ve read, let alone checked to see if they blog and if they do, I sure as shit haven’t read it. And if I haven’t checked I’m guessing most other readers haven’t either.

What does this tell you?

Readers, generally speaking, (don’t be a smart arse and tell me you read blogs and books, of course there are exceptions) don’t read blogs. Writers do.

While writers obviously read, they do not make up the vast majority of the mass page turning book monkey market. So your not likely to find your audience squirrelled away behind the covers of your latest blog post.

If you write non-fiction, then blogging is more useful for connecting with potential readers. If you’re a fan of history, I’ll bet there’s a few history websites you frequent.  I’m a fan of  conspiracy theories  and I subscribe to a heap of stuff because I am interested in the latest news and theories. Same for writing craft books – I subscribe to a ton of writing craft author’s blogs because I’m a content whore and want to know all the best tips and tricks to help me write. Guess what – I find out about books this way too.

BUT don’t hang up your blogging gloves just cause you don’t write non-fiction. There’s squillions of reasons to blog if for no other reason than it’s enjoyable.

If you want to read a hilarious post from Chuck Wendig on this, you can find it here.

So tell me – how do you find your audience?


If you found these tips handy, why not subscribe to get lots more straight to your mailbox. Sign up here.

funny 5-july

66 comments

  1. Having just failed to be picked up by Amazon on KindleScout, and just read this post, I might just go and play with the traffic. Ever get the feeling that all you’re doing, is circling the drain?

        1. It’s not a complete waste of time – it builds a platform, it develops your writing and you build a community – it’s just not going to sell u loads of books because your readers aren’t shopping for books on blogs.

    1. Thanks so much Erika, sorry I didn’t get a chance to stop by your blog this week, I am so close to the finish line with my book I have taken a week (or two) out to just get the thing finished. I will be back promise I love your quotes and poetry <3

      1. Don’t ever worry! I undertand that so well. I am also sorry that I cannot leave a comment all the time or sometimes even cannot afford the time to read everything. So, I really understand. There is still life happening too around us!

  2. If you listen to Kristen Lamb and Anne R. Allen, they both very definitely advocate that you SHOULD blog as a fiction author. It not only improves your writing, it also gives you a place to connect with potential readers.

    That said, they both reckon that only blogging about writing will only really appeal to other writers – who may, or may not, be interested in your actual fiction.

    Both of them instead recommend blogging about stuff related to your genre – so if you write sci fi, talk about sci fi movies, sci fi novels, sci fi games etc. It’s easier to get traffic that way and by participating in the community around the genre, you’re not just going “Buy my book!”

    I started doing the folklore posts for a laugh because I love the folklore Thursday hashtag but if my Analytics are anything to go by, they’re at least three times as popular as my writing posts, and people have outright said they prefer them. I’ve had people read a folklore post, then read a story I wrote inspired by said folklore, then they’ve subscribed to my list.

    Also, I tried one of the keyword tools Nick Stephenson recommended and it’s a total waste of time, so don’t bother with Kindle Samurai!

    1. Interesting on kindle samurai – glad I didn’t recommend it.

      I blog about genre stuff -my conspiracy/ weekly wonder posts and if my stats are anything to go by they are most definitely NOT my popular posts, my writing ones are.

      I’m in a bit of a quandary at the moment whether to drop them and concentrate on writing stuff or whether to move them to a fiction site (a fiction only author website) really not sure yet – personally I’m not sure I agree with Kirsten lamb et al. I can see their point but for me the logic of the others sits far more comfortably because it represents my reading/buying consumption habits as a reader BUT, like I said in the post, don’t stop blogging because I say so, I’m not professing to be right – just giving a round up/review of the books I read.

      I will continue to blog irrespective of the fact some of the big wigs say it doesn’t work and irrespective of the fact it’s never going to sell a truck load of books.

      At the end of the day readers go to Amazon etc to buy books. They don’t come to blogs so no matter who argues what, advertising and cracking Amazon algorithms will ALWAYS be more effective than trying to sell books through blogs. But that’s my personal opinion.

      Ps. Just seen ur email *hugs* give me a couple days to come back to you its my first day back at work 🙂 x

      1. I suppose really it depends who your audience is. If you’re blogging about a topic that you cover in your books then you might pick up some readers ‘on the side’ just through building that relationship with them. I DO read a lot of blogs, and I do buy books from their authors, so from my point of view it does work – though clearly it’s nowhere NEAR as effective as advertising and whatnot. It’s a nice unexpected bonus. Plus I blog because I actually enjoy it, and it supports my fledgling copywriting career.

        I’m a bit funny though, I don’t really like being advertised at (which is funny as I teach advertising). So I will ignore Facebook ads, and endless ‘buy my book!’ tweets almost as a matter of course.

        But then I get book recommendations either from other people (totally my favourite method), or I subscribe to mailing lists like BettyBookFreak and I grab books that sound interesting while they’re either free or 99c. So I guess curated advertising works better on me! Plus, those adverts go to people who’ve subscribed to those lists and are actually interested in the content, and so are more likely to buy. They’re a good way to advertise permafrees or good deals, which as you said in your post is a great way to hook readers.

        At the end of the day, whether you blog or not, I still firmly believe that getting more reviews is the best way to go – more reviews bumps you up the rankings on Amazon, and if you get over 25 they’ll start recommending you to people themselves. Big win!

        1. Soz for the delay but…. #life #manuscriptsToFinish!

          Yes I agree – blog do pick up SOME readers – not denying that, but like you say, not any where close to what advertising does (sadly).

          I agree – I tend to ignore the buy my book advertising. BUT I do have a few newsletter subscriptions to people I do like, and when they send an email saying they have a new book out, if I like it, I will buy it…

          TOTALLY agree on the reviews though. 100%.

  3. Some interesting and useful points, Sacha. I’m in a monogomous relationship with the rain forest seller of books (well, it’s monogomous on my side!) and don’t intend to change any time soon. I have tried other outlets like Smashwords and didn’t sell. I think everyone has to decide what suits them best.
    I find books from all the places you mention and I have sometimes bought titles after seeing them on blogs – author interview type things where if my interest is piqued I’ll check out the book.

    1. I think KDP works for some people I completely agree and I also agree that we have to find what works for us individually.

      I too find books on blogs – like the Rosie’s etc who review them constantly, but that’s because I’m a writer. I wasn’t aware of blogs before I wrote and the point is, although it might trickle sales, it’s never going to pay the bills. Of course your blog will sell some copies, but if you want a salary so u can write full time it’s never going to be the most effective method.

      One of the things I’ve heard Joanna Penn say on other outlets is that they take time. I can’t remember if it’s kobo or iTunes but you need like 9 months of time to build a presence on there, anything less than that and u have no chance. Supposedly if u take a book off and put it back on you start from scratch too. *shrugs* I have no experience to base it on I can only convey what I’ve read and heard from the published authors I read.

      It’s good fodder though, I’ll be publishing early next year if not before, so it’s all useful stuff 🙂

      1. I don’t read YA but I’ll buy your book because I follow your blog! I can’t even remember how I found your blog (s). It’s a very strange world and publishing is a totally weird business.

        1. Aww thank you, that’s genuinely made my day.

          Slowly but surely I am making my way through all my friends (who blog) books too. It’s slow going though, the community is big and I love a lot of people which means there’s a lot of books! But it’s nice because I’m reading genres I wouldn’t normally 🙂

  4. What’s Epic Reads? I feel like I’ve heard of it before, but then I have no idea what it is, lol.
    Also, I’m slowly working on my newsletter. I’m taking your advice about not putting my full address down.

    1. Epic reads is part of Harper Collins I think, it’s for YA genre readers and is like…. Ummmm a website full of YA stuff – news, articles, reviews, recommendations, latest releases that kind of stuff.

      So glad you’re working on the newsletter ???? can’t wait to see it:)

  5. More great tips, Sacha, and quite a bit to think about. I put a lot of time into blogging at the cost of diversifying my reach. But it’s just so fun. I get about 1/2 of my reading from bloggers I know and the other half from “best of” blogs and Amazon recommendations. Thanks for another informative post! 😀

    1. I agree – when I read those books I found myself going in circles, and driving myself potty over what I should and shouldn’t do. And really, I think something different works for every author. It’s just about choosing what works for us really.

  6. You are hitting upon many important details in the overall practice of marketing. You also bring up a valid point that I think many writers who blog struggle with: should you blog? First of all, a writer’s blog is not synonymous with platform. This holds true for both fiction and non-fiction writers. A platform is both a billboard and a launching pad; it defines who you are as a writer and can be a place from where you initiate business (selling books or services). A writer’s platform is a combination of branding, credibility, community and audience.

    I totally agree with you — most likely it’s other writers who are reading my blog. But that’s what I intended. I wanted a community of writers. If I had built a blog strictly to build audience, I would have initiated different tactics. Community is about engagement; audience is about providing a want (what to read). This is why, in order to answer your question, “should you blog,” it is first important to answer “why do you blog.” If you blog to build audience but instead have created community, you need to change tactics; you do not necessarily need to stop blogging.

    I’ll use myself as an example. I’ve built a community of writers at Carrot Ranch by offering weekly prompts, discussions, encouragement and promotion of the participants’ writing. That creates active community among writers. If I wanted a community of specific writers, say western writers, I’d focus activities that appealed to or rewarded only western writers. I don’t because I want diversity. However, I do brand my style of writing enough for others to recognize that I’m interested in the western historical genre.

    Now, if I wanted to target an audience, I’d create a static author website with a blog that featured both history and snippets of my genre writing. I would not ask other writers to engage, nor would I respond to comments the way I do at Carrot Ranch. Audience is not community. Engagement is meaningful to community; topic is meaningful to audience. So how would I find that audience? I’d look at the blogs and websites of genre publishers, western historical societies, museums and re-enactment organizations. I’d seek out western historical book clubs and book reviewers. If I had books to sell, I’d ask to speak at historical society meetings or publish articles in western history magazines and direct this audience back to my blog where they can clearly see I write what they read. Do you see the difference in marketing tactics?

    I have a small following of audience, but they are not regular and they do not stay long because I do not yet have books. When I do, and I start to target tactics toward selling books what are they going to find? A robust and diverse community of writers among my own writing (credibility and branding). Is that a bad thing? No! Absolutely not. It’s like popping over to your favorite author’s house and peeking into a pool party she’s having with friends. Yay! Your favorite author has a life, is a real person, is approachable, likeable. My audience may have no interest in hanging out with my community, but it won’t distract my audience either. So yeah, I blog, will blog and will uphold my community because it fulfills me as I navigate the looooong haul goals of publishing historical and western fiction.

    Just like you — you have built an awesome community and one day, when you shift to audience tactics (which really you can’t do until you have something for them to purchase) you will have readers visit your site to buy a book, read a quirky post on alien life, and say, that Sacha Black is such a cool writer — look at all her peeps who hang with her! They won’t comment, they won’t read tips for writers, but they’ll feel the vibe of your branding that clearly fits the tone of your genre writing. And I think that’s better than having a static, impersonal website. But it’s my opinion, and there are as many marketing tactics out there as there are opinions! Just know what it is you are wanting to achieve and plan how you are to build your platform and follow the cycle of marketing.

    1. Hi Charli,

      sorry for the delay, a long comment deserves a good reply, so I wanted to sit down when I had the time to reply properly.

      First up I agree – A writer’s platform isn’t synonymous but a lot of the time it is one of the largest components. I tend to see my platform as everything I do, including like you say, my brand. But I guess for a lot of writers, they only blog, or only have one social media account, so it ends up being almost solely their platform.

      I didn’t realise that my blog had a writer audience until I started learning about marketing – now I know better and know I am starting from zero when it comes to my fiction unfortunately. But at least I know that. I have plans to create a new website solely for my fiction and like you say, it will be more static, I will create ‘reader’ oriented stuff and focus on driving readers to my email subscriber list (which will be different to Sacha Black’s) because it will be focused on that audience.

      It sounds like I am on the right track – I found myself nodding along to everything you were saying – I am completely aware that I have to find a new audience, and the reason I haven’t set up that ‘author’ website is because my book isn’t finished as you say. The other thing which I haven’t really told anyone yet, is that I have no intention of publishing until I have finished more than one book in the series… Another marketing tactic. Once I publish and put a book out there, I want people to be hooked and have something else they can read after they finish…

      I do love our chats Charli.

      p.s. community is everything to me. I don’t think I would have completed any draft if it weren’t for the writers on here. I will ALWAYS blog, whether it sells books or not.

  7. Blogging helped my first book sell well. The historical fiction novel set in 19th century China based on a real story came out in December 2007 and sputtered along for two years. In 2008, that novel sold an average of 18 copies a month, and in 2009, an average of 28 a month.

    Then in late 2009, I took an all day workshop to learn how to blog properly, and doing what I learned, I started to write posts about China like a lunatic. That is if you call writing 1,000 posts about China in 9 months rabid writing.

    The results of serious blogging: sales in 2010 averaged 180 copies a month; in 2011 the average went up to 387 a month; 346 for 2012; 458 for 2013 (the year of the flame war when my work was attacked by a tribe of nameless trolls who have stayed around keeping an eye on my work to drop a bomb on it every-once-in-a-while. Trolls are like rubber glue.), and 459 a month in 2014.

    Sales have dropped off since then to 65 a month in 2015.

    I think I’m going to have to bite the gold coin and start an e-mail list.

    1. I think blogs do sell books, but they don’t sell books in the way amazon can or advertising can. Also, unfortunately what works this year, won’t next. That’s just the way things are with technology. Everything changes. Constantly and as self pubbed authors we have to keep up. It’s exhausting even thinking about it.

  8. Phew! I can’t tell you how pleased I am about what you said about Blogging. Keep it fun, because that’s what it’s supposed to be all about. I’ve written about it many times and it always saddens me when good bloggers throw in the towel.

    Agree, your blog isn’t going to sell many books, so that’s why posts like these are very valuable.

  9. Darn good post, Sacha and I have bookmarked it for use later or should I start advertising Wisp now before it`s published. I never know what`s best to do. Yep, nervous.

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