Many writers I know, myself included, seem to gravitate towards other writers, particularly online. I belong to several writers’ forums, a challenge group, and a critique group, subscribe to writing newsletters, friend writers on Facebook, and write for writers here and on my own website. And the support and fellowship of other writers is important and valuable.
However, it can become a drawback if you’re hanging out with other writers to the exclusion of your potential readers.
Yes, writers do read, and they do buy books. And they might be easier to convince to order your book from an indie bookstore. But few writers have unlimited funds and if all writers on a forum are marketing their books to each other, only a few have a chance of being bought.
A few years ago I joined a parenting forum where the values and philosophy of the members matched my own. At the time I was just looking for advice and support through my pregnancy and early parenting journey, and then gradually I was able to pass on my own advice and support. I logged hundreds of hours on that forum, racked up a huge number of posts, and became a trusted member of the community. During an ongoing discussion about children’s books, I noticed that this was a group of parents who enjoyed reading what their pre-teens and teens were reading (think Harry Potter and Tiffany Aching). So I bought advertising and started marketing my own work to a group of interested parents of my target market. I’m now building my list so that when my middle grade fantasy novel comes out I will have an enthusiastic fan base (vetted by parents) ready to support me.
How about you? Can you join a group of your potential readers? Think beyond the obvious, like “Mystery Book Fans” and go looking for gun or knife collectors, horse owners, classic car enthusiasts, etc. Treat it as a research exercise: these people will have valuable information you can use in your books, and they might get excited about the prospect of a book that features their passion – especially if they know you’re going to get the details right when many other authors get it wrong.
Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll help you brainstorm some ideas for joining your readers on their home turf.
Elsa Neal is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. If your story requires research into elements such as firearms, the law, or disappearing in modern society, check out this research resource page and get your facts straight. Don't risk your writing career on a guess. Visit Elle's website.