Fans who come back again and again are the lifeblood of genre fiction authors. Whether you write a series with the same main characters or standalone novels, the best way to sell books is to find a core readership who buy your books again and again. Get your fans emotionally involved with you and they'll be more likely to become loyal purchasers every time you release a new book. For genre authors, engagement is the key to getting this done and is the heart of your book marketing effort. It's the art of making your readers feel like they're your friends, even if there are thousands of them, and the savviest authors spend time every day working on their relationships with their fans. Grow your fan base by starting with these seven techniques.
- Find something in common with your readers and post frequently about it. Do a poll with your frequent readers and ask them about their hobbies and pastimes. If you find that a good percentage of your readers love to bake or make fishing lures, start conversations about those subjects. It doesn't matter that it has nothing to do with your books. In fact, it's better that it doesn't. Writing about other topics makes you look like a well-rounded individual -- in other words, a human being.
- Treat social media it should be treated: as a place to be social. The last place to blast book advertising is your Facebook or Twitter accounts. You can mention your books about one out of twenty times you post, at best. Everything else you post should have nothing to do with your work. You want your readers to consider you a friend, not a salesperson.
- Respond to every comment, every single time. Except when you shouldn't. Every time a reader asks you a question or makes a comment, make a point of answering them back in a pleasant way. Just be yourself and have a conversation with them. The only time you shouldn't answer is if someone makes a negative post about you. Ignore them, ignore them, ignore them. No good can come from feeding trolls.
- Remember important dates. Have your readers add their birthdates when they sign up for your newsletter, and give them a freebie on their big day. Post pictures of flowers for Mother's Day, Star Wars memes on May 4, or whatever little touch affects your core readership.
- Give out gifts to all your readers. Pass on the first chapter of your next book. Write a novella that sets up your series and give it to people in return for signing up for your newsletter. Hold giveaways and give away small Amazon gift cards or paperback copies of your books.
- Let fans into your private life, to a limited degree. Decide ahead of time what you want to share, such as your dog and your spouse, as well as what you'll never divulge. Put up pictures of your pets once in a while, talk about your evening at the wine bar, or show photos of the sunset at your local park. If readers see you posting the same types of things their other friends do, they'll be more likely to consider you a friend instead of an impersonal author figure.
- Give back to your community. Every fandom has its list of causes it supports. Science fiction fans love groups that donate to STEM education, while a lot of romance readers are fans of animal rescue groups. These may be generalizations, but you might find a cause your fandom supports. If you feel good about supporting their cause, be vocal about your feelings. You don't have to donate a lot of money; spreading the word by posting information can be enough to let fans know you feel the same way they do.
Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!