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Ep 029: “How To Connect With Your Readers”

Welcome to the 29th episode of The Author Hangout, a “Hangout on Air” designed to help authors, especially self-published and indie authors, with marketing their books and improving their author platform. Authors struggle with various aspects of marketing and we are here to help!

“The foundation is communication and trust. Are you effectively communicating to the right people, and are you doing that in a way that engenders and builds trust over time?”– Dan Blank

“How To Connect With Your Readers”

We were joined by book launch and creative consultant, Dan Blank. In this episode, we talks a lot about the mentality and approach you need to have when reaching out to readers. If you are unsure what you should be doing, or if your current approaches haven’t worked, then you will definitely learn what changes you need to make.

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Intro

With extensive experience in publishing and content development he teaches authors how to share there stories and connect with readers effectively. Besides conducting online courses and one on one consulting, he creates custom workshops, delivers keynote speeches and produces educational content for writers. He also regularly works with some of the world’s biggest publishing houses including Random House, Publishers Weekly and Writers Digest. His forth-coming book Dabblers vs. Doers is for creative professionals working through risk as they hone their craft. Please welcome the founder of We Grow Media, Dan Blank. Dan, welcome to the Author Hangout.

How did you get involved in the book industry?

Dan shares about his story and how he jumped into business. He also shared what he does:

“What I do is really help them understand how to connect with an audience. So envisioning who that audience could be, what they would resonate with in your work and then from there I always talk about this idea. The foundation is communication and trust. Are you effectively communicating to the right people and are you doing that in a way that engenders and builds trust over time? So the outputs of that are lots of different things. Identifying your messaging, your marketing plan, things like blogging and social media, marketing plans. It really is reframing things to think about who am I trying to reach?”

He also talked a bit more about trust and how important it is in marketing. Don’t miss that part of the interview!

What is your most recent book or project?

Dan talked about his newest book he’s working on, Dabblers vs Doers, which isn’t available yet as of this writing:

“I work with writers, critics and professionals. My whole life I’ve been a creator. What I tend to find is there is this gap so many people have ideas of things they want to create and inherently there is this thing in between the idea of creating it and actually doing it. That thing is risk. It is taking a leap, it is working through that place where you can get bruised, battered and judged. The work is long and boring and lonely and full of pitfalls. This is a book that really explores that gap. How have people really jumped across, kind of walked through that gap not just dabbling with an idea but actually becoming a doer. Actually going through with it and what does that experience look like. The way I’m framing it is very much kind of the emotional way that we approach these things. I think too often we don’t talk about the emotion of launching a book, the emotion of writing a book, the emotion of being a professional of any sort. Its sort of all hushed away by best practices and I think that we talk about the fact that we are overwhelmed, we are scared, we are unsure and we don’t really know and how did we move forward anyway.”

What types of things are authors struggling with?

Dan talks about a few of them, and one of them is goal planning, and he also talked a bit about research:

“Another is really, really doing the research to think about who your audience would be. This is really thinking very critically about the audience well before the publication of the book. One thing that I find that I wish people did more of is that really deep research. It’s really thinking about who is this audience and then doing the research talking to them, interviewing them, meeting with them, extending it beyond that. That could be so many different ways if you’re a non-fiction author it could be about events and cooperate partners and organizations. What roles and what organizations, what needs they have for fiction it’s a whole other set of things.”

He also talked about how important having a specific voice is, and how that transcends all of your marketing. Get his insights on how to find your voice that you can specifically use when marketing your book.

What one marketing tactic is do you see working well for authors?

Dan nailed it all down, and talked about how research is so important:

“There’s a client who I’m working with and she recently took a trip to New York. She’s really far down the road of the books the project she’s working on and that whole trip was centered around research. She met with so many different people that are in her field, people that she didn’t know, people she didn’t know if they were the right people to speak with. She met with past and current collaborators to test out her idea. This was a trip that came with, I saw her notes, she shared them with me, page after page of notes that really vetted the idea, that vetted the audience and some of them were really validating and some of them were not some of them really pointed out big challenges of the types of audiences but the trick is they were also redirected. So there’s a big challenge in that audience and it’s this. Have you thought about this other audience that’s next to them? She was also able to expand her network because the people that she met with. They are really wonderful, experienced, influential people and she took a real risk in reaching out to them. Saying can I spend and hour with you and your time. So this was a trip that was nothing overtly marketing although these people now know about her project, but they also feel invested in it. I think that, that’s really critical.”

This is HUGE advice. This can even work for fiction authors as well, by researching the book, you can tap into a group of people who then become invested in your book, and so when it is time to promote your book, you can tap into these people you have networked with.

With your experience, what 3 things should authors be doing to sell more books?

The first is forging relationships with people. This is HUGE, so be sure to listen to the podcast to get all of the great insight on this that Dan shares.

He also talked about the importance of having true fans:

“[There is a] theory out there called a thousand true fans. The really short version of it is to survive as an artist or creative professional you don’t need millions and millions of people buying your stuff. You just need about a thousand people to show up and buy pretty much anything you want to sell. If you have that, I think the example gave was maybe with musicians. If a thousand people buy your cd at twenty bucks a pop, if they all show up to your show you can actually survive make a living doing that. So with my friend Sarah, who is writing a book of her own, when you look at her life and she supports herself and her family as a professional. She doesn’t have a huge audience a couple thousand people on a news letter list a few thousand people follow her on Twitter and the trick of it is that she really tends to those relationships. So she’s not always saying gee my email list is only this many people I need to grow that or I haven’t grown that I’m a failure it is always about nurturing those relationships. It’s about listening to people, about talking to them and when she does launch something whether it’s a book or something else it’s so tuned into who those people are. I think that not enough is made of the qualitative difference over the quantitative difference of those things. That you don’t need a million people on your email list and a million followers you just need a handful of the right people and then you need to treat those people like they are just the most awesome people ever.”

Quality vs quantity when it comes to marketing is very important.

Lastly, he talked more about building your voice. Listen to the podcast to gets these tips from him about discovering your true voice.

How can people connect with you?

“My website is wegrowmedia.com I blog ever week now multiple times a week you will see I have a podcast on there now as well and then on all the obvious social media I am @danblank on Twitter and Instagram I’d love to connect with you if you have any questions please email me through the website or on social media.”

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