This series has been expanded into a step-by-step eBook! Find out more about Building Your Fanbase: A From-Scratch Guide for Indie Authors.
To figure out how to reel in those fans once you find them, check out How to Engage Your Crazy-Dedicated Fanbase.
Were you a fan of The Legend of Zelda as a child?
My brother first introduced me to the game (the original version for Nintendo, what what) when I was 7 and I couldn’t get enough of cute little Link and the ever-elusive Princess Zelda.
One of my favorite parts of the game was figuring out where to go next.
You see, in Zelda, there are two worlds: the regular world and dungeons. In the regular world, you had an ever-present map with a little pointer telling you where to go (handy). In dungeons, however, you had to find the map.
And upon finding that map-holding treasure chest, you knew your life would get a little bit easier.
Don’t you wish you had a Zelda-like map pointing to your readers?
It would make things easier, for sure.
I get it: you know who your readers are, but aren’t sure where best to reach them.
Finding readers is tricky business, and for good reason: they could be hiding anywhere (except, perhaps, behind that old pile of MMC VHS tapes from the early 90’s).
Seriously, though, there’s Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, book clubs and hundreds of other potential reader locales — it’s overwhelming. You don’t want to waste your time and energy hunting aimlessly through a readerless dungeon.
So, where can you find those crazy-dedicated fans? To find out, follow these three easy steps:
1. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes.
I hope you created your reader profile last week, because it’s essential to figuring out your readers’ hangouts. If you haven’t made one up, do that first and then come back here.
Next, read over your reader profile. Imagine life through his (or her) eyes.
Take yourself through a typical day in your reader’s life. How do they spend their downtime? Where do they hang out?
Use the list below to guide you. Make a note of locations your reader frequents and fill in specific details where appropriate.
- Which ones does he read? Use Alltop or Technorati to find leading blogs on a variety of topics. Think about your reader’s hobbies or interests!
- Who does he follow? Okay, but who does she *really* follow? Whose updates does she eagerly await and which does she ignore?
- How and when does he access Twitter? On his phone, computer, tablet? At home or during work?
- How does she use it? Just to connect with friends, family and coworkers or also to follow her favorite people or products?
- Other Social Media:
- Does he use GoodReads, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other social media sites?
- Web Communities:
- Don’t forget about other web hangouts: does your reader frequent any forums, fan clubs, or professional/hobby associations online?
- Where does she hang out offline? Book Club? Moms group? Alumni gathering? Service league? School? Political groups? Newspaper? Place of worship?
2. Choose your top 5 reader hangout locations.
Now that you’ve figured out your reader’s hangouts, let’s make things a bit easier by narrowing down the list you made. You see, some hangouts will be better for finding those potential readers than others.
What makes a hangout awesome? Score each spot on a 1-5 scale based on:
- Is this a place your reader would look for new authors?
- Does your reader see this place as authoritative or trendsetting?
- Are others in this place similar to your reader?
- Is this a spot in which your reader is highly engaged (can’t want to visit it/devotes her total attention while there)?
- Would this be a spot in which you could fit in (by offering insight or camaraderie)?
In addition, keep in mind how your unique reader chooses books; they might be more willing to take recommendations from a fellow Miranda Lambert fan (since that interest is media-related) versus a fellow lover of Italian cooking.
3. Go forth and earn new fans!
The top 5 hangout spots above are targeted locations in which you can engage new fans.
Remember: you want to be genuine! Find some common ground with your reader. Don’t go hanging out in Coldplay forums simply because there’s an audience there.
Only choose places in which you can offer something of value — be that ranting about the ending of The Killing or discussing Oprah’s newest 2.0 book club pick. Don’t endlessly shill for your book! Remember: people listen to others who listen to them.
When the time is right, gently promote your work. Your new friends will listen!
Where do your fans spend their free time? Are there any unusual places where you’ve found your readers hanging out?
This post is part of our series on reader-centered book marketing. At the end of the month, we’ll be unveiling a special FREE course exclusively for authors who receive updates from us in their inbox. If you’re not one of those cool peeps yet, sign up now — you’ll also receive Self-Publishing Basic Training for free!