At some point in time you’ve likely heard the expression “It takes a village to raise a child.” But have you ever thought about how that statement relates to your goals as a self-published author?
The saying means that in order for a child to grow up to be the best they can be, it takes the combined effort of everyone in that child’s “circle of influence”, or in other words, their community.
If you plan on having any significant success and longevity with your book publishing it helps to think of your book as your “child” and your online tribe of loyal readers as your “community”.
Building a Thriving Community is a Process
Now that you know why having a community of loyal followers is important, how do you go about building one from the ground up?
- Start building a community well before your book launch.
You may think that building a community before you have something to sell (your book) is doing things completely backwards. However, there are many people doing exactly that and becoming wildly successful as a result.
The key to making it work is building your community or your tribe around a common interest that represents the type of information or entertainment you want to offer through your future books.
This interest could be just about anything that has the ability to attract and hold the attention of a group of like-minded people, whether that interest happens to be fitness, adventure, science, business, finance, cooking or any of the millions of other niche areas out there.
The reason building a community before having an offer works so well is that you can fully focus on your prospects, and provide them with information that can educate and inform them without worrying about your bottom line. And even better still, when the time comes for you to create an offer, it will be as simple as asking them exactly what they want.
- Capture your followers email addresses.
In the early days of the internet, forums, chat rooms and instant messengers were extremely popular because that was the only way that people could communicate with each other online.
Today, social media has exploded and there are literally thousands of platforms through which your prospects can find and communicate with you and your brand.
Unfortunately, this also means that there are thousands of platforms your competition can use to communicate with your prospective readers as well. In fact, your prospects are bombarded all day long with marketing messages and everyone clamoring to get a few seconds of their attention.
The best way to get around this issue is by building a list of prospects that actually wants to receive what you have to offer directly and on a regular basis.
Having even a small email marketing list of people who are eager to hear from you and want to buy the books that you eventually sell is one of the most valuable assets that you can have as a self-published author.
- Focus on delivering value before asking for anything in return.
The key to creating strong bonds with the members of your community lies in putting their needs first and going above and beyond to deliver exceptional value. This means putting your desire for sales and income on the back burner for a while as you focus exclusively on becoming the go-to resource for readers in your niche.
How exactly do you go above and beyond to build strong relationships with your readers?
Be communicative and responsive. Discuss topics that no one else in your niche is covering, approach old ideas from new angles, offer them exclusive content and most importantly, be consistent.
When your readers begin to feel like you are always there for them with the best information, insights and advice surrounding your niche topic they begin to get to know and like you and look forward to hearing more of what you have to say.
- Focus on quality, not quantity.
At some point just about everyone believes that more is always better. However, in many situations that’s not the case, particularly when it comes to building a thriving and loyal tribe of followers for your self-published book brand.
Instead of getting caught up with the number of people who join your community or subscribe to your list, it is better to focus on their engagement levels.
For instance, when you send out an email, how many of your subscribers actually stop and take a moment to open and read it? This is a better metric to pay attention to than simply having a lot of signups.
It is always better to have all or most of a small group of subscribers opening all of your correspondence than to have a large group that never or rarely does.
Always remember that your goal is to build a base of loyal and dedicated fans who become ambassadors for your brand.
- Don’t focus on selling.
The way consumers receive marketing messages has changed forever.
The worst thing you can do when you’re trying to win a prospect over is to smash them over the head with sales pitch after sales pitch hoping to bully them into buying your product, or in this case your book.
A better approach is to completely forget about “selling” while you communicate with your audience and instead focus on building relationships with them.
If your audience feels like you are coming from a place of sincerity and are truly putting their needs first instead of your desire to sell, they will be much more receptive to listening to what you have to say.
- Always strive to be authentic.
In the world of book marketing it’s important to remember that there is only one you, and in order to succeed you have to play up this fact as much as possible.
The truth is that there are very few things that are new and unheard of in this world. Whatever topic you are interested in, chances are there are at least 10 (in reality many more than this) other bloggers or self-published authors that focus on the same niche.
The key to standing out in the sea of same-ness is to let your true personality shine through in every aspect of your communication with your tribe.
Real people respond the most and the best to other real people.
Don’t try to “act” or develop a “persona” of who you think you should be to attract members of your audience. Simply tap into your authentic self and let the attraction happen naturally.
The result is real connections made with real people based on authentic communication and connection.
- Be consistent.
A little known but very important part of building a thriving online community is being consistent with your communication.
Just as in real life relationships, people tend to be closer to those they communicate with on a regular basis. The same goes for creating a rapport with the members of your tribe.
The more regularly you communicate, the closer you tend to become.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to send messages to your followers every hour on the hour in order to stay in their minds. Doing that may actually annoy them more than anything.
All you really have to do is set up a regular timeline for communication and stick with it. This could mean sending out your newsletter once a week or once a month, or scheduling a group chat every Thursday night at 8pm.
Whatever works best for you and your tribe, just be sure to develop a routine and stick to it.
Use these simple tips to start building your community today and in short order you will begin to reap the benefits that having a loyal tribe brings.