Guest Blogger: Chad Allen
Janet here: Today we have the honor of posting a blog by Chad Allen, editorial director for Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. He blogs about writing, publishing, life, and creativity at http://www.chadrallen.com/.
Welcome, Chad. We’re eager to read your thoughts on how to build an audience for our books.
It’s natural for us to ask these questions when building an audience. We want to know when all the work will pay off.
These questions, though, are bit like asking, What color is the world’s hair?
OK. That sounded odd, hang with me. The world doesn’t have a hair color; only individuals do.
(Seeee! I had a point…)
In the same way, “publishers” don’t have a follower count they are looking for. An individual editor might, but you won’t find a gold standard for all publishers.
You won’t find a universal visitor count that spells freedom or a subscriber count that automatically sets off your ring tone, either.
So if these aren’t the right questions, what are? Try these:
1. Do I have a supportive community?
If you’re not already part of a group where you can share your joys and struggles, join or start one. If you don’t do anything else in this list, this is worth your time.
2. What does my current tribe need from me?
The better you’re able to provide what your readers need from you, even if it’s not exactly what you’d like to provide, the more freedom you will have later.
3. How can I take the next step with the things I’m already doing?
Sometimes we get so hung up on doing something new or different that we don’t give ourselves time to get good at our current practices. Don’t add to your to-do list. Go deeper with the one you have.
4. How can I go out of my way to serve my most loyal followers?
Do you have a friend who has been especially supportive? A consistent commenter or retweeter? These folks deserve some extra love. Here’s an idea: send them a book that has meant a lot to you.
5. How can I make hard work easier?
Let’s face it, the work is hard. But what things can you do to make it a little easier? (Having asked that question myself, I just lit a candle and dimmed the lights. Created a bit of mood for myself. It made a difference!)
All of these questions are about either helping people or making it sustainable to help people. Focus on these, and you’ll build a bigger audience faster.
What is the best thing you have done to build an audience?