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If you've been part of an authors group, online or off, for any amount of time, you've probably noticed a trend in the questions people want answered. New and established authors alike have asked it, and they probably will continue to do so until the end of time. What's the question? Here it is:
How do I grow my audience?
Y'all, if I had the answer to that question, I'd be writing this post from a cabana in Costa Rica. Since I'm 99.3% positive I'm currently sitting in my home office, there is only one thing I can promise: I don't have the answer.
In fact, I believe no one has the answer.
You read that right. I am pretty darn sure that no one man, woman, human, child, robot, or otherwise, has the answer to help you grow your audience. Does that sound fatalistic? Maybe. I prefer to think of it as brutal honesty.
When I say no one has the answer, I mean there is no one answer that will fit every author. Anyone promising a one-size fits all solution clearly never tried to fit in with the 1990s bubble-shirt trend. As in, they are delusional or lying, and you should proceed with caution. It doesn't mean you can't learn from them; it just means you have to be careful not to fall into the marketing trap of "foolproof promise".
So what is the answer?
There are a lot of ways to potentially draw new readers to your platform...
Reader Magnets, Perma-free books, Rapid Release, Social Media, Paid Ads, Newsletter Swaps... and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. But what will work for you and your platform is going to depend on one thing and one thing only: you and your platform!
It really is that simple... and that difficult.
I learned this lesson the hard way and if I can keep you from making the same mistake, that's a win-win. Here's my (brief) story:
High on the success of pumping out my first two books in just over three months, I put up preorders for the next three books with a similar release schedule. Not quite rapid-release, but pretty darn fast. This was all well and good except I forgot one little detail about myself that cost me the ability to put preorders up on Amazon for a year:
Every winter my depression takes a nose-dive for three to five months. It has been this way for decades, and no matter what medication, meditation, prayer, or therapy I do, it still happens.
What doesn't happen during those three to five months, however, is anything resembling productivity. So those books I set up for preorder? Hahaha! Yeah, they were so far from happening, I only recently finished one of those books. So even though I'd planned a slow-ish rapid release, because I didn't account for my personal needs, I tanked it.
And that is why I say not every method will work for every author. Because each one of us is unique. My winter depression could be your back-to-school anxiety, a new puppy (or baby), or worldwide pandemic, or... you get the point.
If there isn't an answer, how the heck am I supposed to build my audience?!
Well, you have to do your research. And you'll probably have to do some trial and error, and a little bit of soul searching. I know this isn't what you want to hear, but if I gave you what you wanted I'd be no better than a bubble-shirt salesperson.
If you learn one thing from me, I want you to learn to do your research and think for yourselves.
What is right for one person may not be right for you, just like methods that worked yesterday may not work today. If you want to succeed in business, this is something you need to take to heart. It will pay off in spades as you move forward.
I know it is a lot, so I'm going to help in the only way I can: by sharing resources with you. The Oak & Pine website hosts an Approved Resources page where I cultivate books, blogs, big-wigs, and additional author services that I or someone I trust have used and approved for you.
Additionally, the Oak & Pine Blog is full of information. From book reviews and summaries, to lessons on writing craft, best business practices, and more, this blog exists to help you make the most of your words: before and after you get to the end.
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