Switch focus to growing a list of fans instead of a list of followers. A follower watches what an author does but a fan helps move an author forward.
It’s been my experience since I got into to writing as a career option, that everyone touts growing their follower list. Be it a newsletter subscriber list, social media platforms, in person, or wherever. An author should gather followers, as many and as quickly as you can. Then convert them into customers, and then fans. It’s the key to success for an author.
I was on board with that sentiment, until recently. I fully understand the logic behind it. By building a huge list of followers, you can create a captive audience, and it is yours no matter what happens with social media and marketing down the road. Then it’s just a matter of converting them. Let the conversion games begin!
You have get their attention repeatedly, guide them to or ask them for what you want or need them to do, and hope that more of them do it than don’t, every step of the way.
From a personal perspective, a large group of followers doesn’t seem to hold an author back, but take a look at it from a business perspective and it gets a little harder to swallow as truth.
As an author business, your bottom line is forward movement. Making sales, getting reviews, and spreading the word that you have an author business while making as much money as possible writing and publishing books in order to call yourself a business.
None of that is happening when you are focused on building a following. You spend your time creating content to convince huge numbers to sign up or follow you, more content to convince them to buy things from you, even more content to convince them to read, then convince them to leave a review, and maybe join a fan group. Plus writing and publishing books.
Fans are different and I wholly believe that an author should hit the ground building a list of them, instead of followers. I’ll even say go so far as to cut loose any just followers. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but when you think about it, it’s the best move a business can make. If you have to convince them to do something, why are they following you in the first place?
You don’t have to create content that will guide or convince fans every step of the way. You don’t have to ask them to buy, review, or share your books. Fans are often 2 steps ahead of you. By the time you release your next 2nd book, they have pre-ordered it, and already told their best friend, their Aunt Betty, the guy at the coffee shop, the local library and their favorite bookstore all about you.
Fans want more, so they do more. They help and support in any way you ask them to and that they can think of and then some. They go above and beyond and will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. They do it for a lot of different reasons, but it’s in big part so you can focus on writing more books. I’ll take 12 of those over a following of 35,000 any day. I’m fortunate to have a few more than that.
A list of fans will take longer to grow than a list of followers does. It requires building a connection that isn’t just about making sales. It takes time, energy, and effort and you can’t create it with 35,000 people at the same time.
The effort is what will hook them and keep them with you no matter what. A list of 5 of them will be more valuable to you than a list of 100,000 that might spend money but won’t help spread you around at all. Make it work for you and you will save time, energy, and money and get further than you ever dreamed possible.
If you haven’t started building your list, do it now, but build it of fans. Don’t stress over numbers. Build connections. If you have started building your list and it’s full of followers that aren’t moving you forward no matter what you do, shift your focus to connection and let go of any that don’t connect with you.