Welcome to an entire month of Top 5 Tips for Authors!
Every day this month my friends and I will bring you a new set of Top 5 Tips to help you along on your author journey. 2017 was a year of change in the Indie author world for sure. So many happenings. So many new things to learn. So many old things that didn’t quite do what you’d hoped. Well, every day is a new day. And every year is a new year. So we hope that this month’s worth of tips will get you the kick start you need to make 2018 your best yet and please feel free to ask questions and leave comments.
Lynn Raye Harris is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the HOSTILE OPERATIONS TEAM SERIES of military romances as well as 20 books for Harlequin Presents. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and the National Readers Choice Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome former-military husband, two crazy cats, and one spoiled American Saddlebred horse named Reggie. Lynn’s books have been called “exceptional and emotional,” “intense,” and “sizzling.” She has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. You can learn more at her website or come and visit her at her Facebook page. Lynn loves hearing from her readers! To sign up for Lynn’s newsletter–where you’ll be kept up to date about all of Lynn’s books–text the word HOTTIES to 66866 or go to http://bit.ly/LRHNews
BUILD YOUR FAN GROUP
Hey, y’all! I’m back again with another Top 5 Tips. Hope you enjoy! Let’s talk fan groups. So you’ve decided you want to build one. Or maybe you have one, but it’s languishing and hasn’t grown the way you want it to. So what can you do to create a vibrant group of people who love your books? I’ve got a few tips for you.
1 BOOK THE VENUE
You want to build a fan group, but first you have to decide where it will happen. There are a few choices, though having a Facebook group is probably the most popular. You can also have a forum on your website where people have a login, or a group on a message board (like Yahoo Groups) where people can start topics and respond in threads. Both those choices work, but the most popular is probably the Facebook group because people are already on Facebook and it’s easy to start a dedicated group there. You can even tie it to a page and interact as your page rather than your profile.
2 YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO JOIN…
Once you’ve got the venue, you have to ask them to join. Post that link everywhere! On Facebook, on Twitter, on your webpage, in your newsletter, in the backmatter of your books – anywhere that your fans will lay eyes on it and click over to see what’s going on.
3 SHOW UP (DON’T LEAVE THEM AT THE ALTAR)
If you’re going to have a group, don’t ignore them. Your fans are waiting for you to interact with them! Make it a special place where you do that. Pop in and tell them what you’re doing that day, share a snippet of your work in progress, do cover reveals, start a book club, ask their opinions on plots they like, tropes, what devices they read on, etc. There are lots of things you can do, but the most important is to be present and be real. Your fans want to interact with you so give them that. If you can’t tend your group daily, then have a couple of trusted admins who can keep things running when you aren’t able to drop in. My group has three admins besides me and they all participate and keep the conversation going when I’m mired in work.
4 THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS (HAVE SOME RULES)
This part is important. Have rules for the group. It’s up to you what they are, but it helps to nip any drama in the bud. The rules in mine are pretty simple. No promo for other authors, no soliciting for customers for your business, tag book spoilers, be nice to each other, no porn or nude photos – though we’ll take sexy hot men pics all day long! We also don’t allow lending discussions. There are plenty of groups for that kind of thing. Mostly, we want people to feel safe and happy. We’ve had people discuss serious issues they were experiencing and ask for advice. Everyone was absolutely wonderful in those situations and I loved that it could happen in my group. That’s what I want – a place people feel they can come and talk to friends. It’s not all about my books all day long, and I really love that.
5 MAKE YOUR GUESTS COMFORTABLE (NO ORDERS)
You can absolutely ask your readers to share posts, leave reviews for your books, tell their friends about your books, etc. But these people are your guests, not your employees, and they aren’t obligated to do any of it though you hope they will because they love your books. Always remember that you give value to each other. It’s not a one-way street where you provide all the value and they are there to worship you – without them, you wouldn’t be where you are! So don’t chew them out for not doing something you wanted. Nurture your group and your group will nurture you.
DANCE YOUR ASS OFF (HAVE FUN)
Most importantly, have fun in your group. If you’re having fun, everyone is having fun. Post those silly cat pictures. Ask for their goofy pet photos or kids in costume or whatever makes them giggle. If people are having fun, they’re going to come back. What makes you laugh? What makes you enjoy yourself? Share those things. Be a real person in your group. I would caution you about sharing things that are too personal, such as marital issues or things of that nature, though if that’s you and you’re comfortable doing it, then who am I to tell you not to? Just be sure that whatever you’re doing, you make your space safe and fun, not a rant-filled zone where people are afraid to check in for fear they’ll be dragged into your drama. Dance and have a good time with your fans.
BLACK TIE AFFAIR AND BEST COSTUME
Having theme days and contests in your group can help you build structure, though they aren’t strictly necessary. Theme days mean that people know what’s happening on a certain day. Man Candy Monday. Teaser Tuesday. Easily identifiable things, right? Contests aren’t necessary, but they can also be fun. I give away gift cards, mystery boxes, signed books, and swag – but I have people to mail stuff out and liaise with the winners. All of that can be time-consuming so think twice before you start, especially if it’s just you running the group right now.