1,000 True Fans
by Sunny Frazier
I stumbled across an article by Kevin Kelly, Senior Editor of “Wired” magazine. This piece has been circulating since 2008. Kelly's premise is that if you can acquire a thousand “true” fans, you can raise your sales and make a living off your art. The entire article is posted at http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/
Kelly believes you don't have to have a hit to survive, or in writing terms, a bestseller. What you do have to do is collect a loyal fan base that will buy whatever you're selling. By pulling in one new fan a day, you will have your 1,000 fans in 3 years. The challenge is to create and maintain DIRECT CONTACT with fans. You will also need to nurture them, something not everyone is willing to do.
My problem with this article is the same problem I have with every “How To” article I find on the Internet. It's a good idea, possibly a sound one, but what I'm looking for (and I bet you are too) is the magic formula on how to implement this theory. Information is no good if it leaves you in the dark.
I have nearly 1,000 fans. I haven't tested to see if they are “true” fans yet, I'll do that when Black Opal Books reprints my entire series of astrology mysteries. For now, I'm creatively building my fan base. I'm going to explain EXACTLY what I'm doing and perhaps you'll pick up some ideas of your own.
First of all, readers are inundated with all sorts of come-ons. “Buy my book,” “Read my blog,” Watch my video.” I delete most of those and so do you. Instead, I offer fans something other than my own work. I entice them with what they want, which is free books. Oh, not my books—I refuse to offer my work for free. I write a monthly column for Kings River Life Magazine called “Coming Attractions.” I announce titles a month before they come on the market. There is always a drawing for about 8 or 9 books just by making a comment.
The column is nothing more than fun, quippy blurbs I concoct (for the latest column go to http://kingsriverlife.com/11/28/coming-attractions-visions-of-sugerplums-edition/ ) . I get the material from Amazon. Under the blurb are listed other books coming out in the future by the publisher. I also made a point of subscribing to Romantic Times Magazine which announces a variety of books two months in advance. And, a site called “Fantastic Fiction” lists every series an author has written plus books the author recommends http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (if you aren't listed on this British site, get in there!) . I keep these on file and right now I can tell you books coming out in August, 2016.
I began collecting the names of people commenting and “friending” them on Face Book by thanking them for their interest. I noticed my readership was primarily older women wanting to win cozy mysteries. With that info I decided to gear my column to their tastes. I also regularly checked in on them and from their FB postings discovered the name of their pets and their hobbies. I “liked” their memes and soon they were “liking” mine as well.
I'm the type that knows there's a next step. I divided up my list of fans into those who read dog mysteries, cat mysteries and culinary mysteries. When a book of that sort is offered as a prize, I contact them individually and nudge them to enter with something like “Fluffy thinks you'd like this new dog mystery.” It works because I take the time to remember their pet's name and readers are flattered by the attention. I also post the link to Cozyville Cozies then “friend” responders from that site. When an author posted my column on her site, I hijacked 24 of her fans. And, by researching authors who write astrology mysteries, I've been stealing that fan base as well.
What I'm doing is paving the way for readers of my own novels. I haven't done the “hard sell” yet, I want readers to know me as a friend and one who has their interests at heart. Because I really do enjoy each and every one of them.
Anyone can copy me and do their own column, either through blogging or by offering it to an ezine or reader's site. There are plenty out there. I'd like to see someone do one for romance novels, historical fiction, thrillers, erotica, sci-fi and horror. Authors are more than willing to give away free books for free publicity. Two things are crucial: publishing the column on a regular basis and promoting it. Growing 1,000 true fans takes commitment and creativity.