Do You Have the Keys to Building Your Reader Tribe?

This blog was originally published on Amazon’s Author Insights Blog.
You can read it here.

You won’t be a full-time author without lots of readers, otherwise known as your reader tribe. You might think tribes are for famous authors (like the original tribe guy himself, Seth Godin). Truly, if you’re at the beginning of your author journey, you might not be able to imagine having a tribe of people—superfans, if you will—who buy, read, review, and truly love every book you write. But I promise you, it is possible, and it is possible for you.

A few words of caution: If, by chance, you are looking to build your tribe in record time and go from unknown aspiring author to tribe leader with tens of thousands of readers “in minutes,” slow your roll! My advice here, as in all my work, is from the perspective of the long-tail, slow-burn perspective. You’ll get there, and it will take some time.

Let me use my experience to help you build your tribe in record time.

What is a reader tribe?

Your reader tribe is a group of people connected to each other and led by you, through your books. They might love your characters, or they might find your advice something they cannot live without. They look to you for inspiration or entertainment (or both), and they bond with each other because you have brought them together.

How to build your tribe:

  1. Be your fabulous, authentic self. Tribes are built one reader at a time. It will all start because one person thinks you’re the cat’s meow and decides you hold the key. How does this happen? It happens when you are personal, authentic, and, dare I say, open kimono. We find ourselves in others, and your tribe will find themselves in you.

  2. Ask for help. Your followers want to help. Wouldn’t you do something for someone you admire, and happily so? Of course you would! When people tell you they love your writing, thank them and ask that they leave a review and tell their friends.

  3. Stay in close touch. Remember these words: What you give away, you keep. It’s a philosophy I first heard from Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee when I was building my business. Share everything you can, and the right people will keep coming back for more. Give away free information, and future members of your tribe will come back and purchase the next thing you offer. For example, you give away a free e-book in exchange for my e-mail address. A few months later, you release a new book. Not only do I preorder it, but I also read it right away, leave a review, and buy a copy for a like-minded friend.

  4. Engage with every single readerI have fans who are fans because I answered their e-mail or responded to their tweet. I’ve heard that some authors just don’t respond (wait, what?!). It might take me some time, but I answer every single message I see (as long as it is nice or isn’t asking for something I just can’t do).

  5. Encourage engagement within your tribe. Hal Elrod has done a tremendous job of creating a community from his book The Miracle MorningIn the beginning, and keep in mind this will last a while, you’ll be spurring on communication, comments, and independent connections between members of your tribe. Eventually, you’ll see leaders step up within the group and create other activity within your group.

  6. Never give up. Your tribe might take a year to get off the ground; it might take five years. Just as you wouldn’t give your child a finite amount of time to learn to walk or talk, you won’t give up on your tribe until you’ve built it. No matter how long it takes, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other (and inviting members of join).

Having readers who love your books is exhilarating and humbling. Treat your tribe with the ownership and stewardship it deserves, and soon you’ll have more than the one thousand true fans you need to be a full-time writer.

More Good Stuff…

Your prosperity begins and ends with what you think, say, and do–or in this case what you do, read, and listen to, so try these on for size:

~Prosperous Networking: Find other amazing writers and authors in The Prosperous Writer Mastermind on Facebook!

~Prosperous Reading: Nick Stephenson is sharing his book, Reader Magnets, for free! Learn how he added tens of thousands of targeted readers to his mailing list here.

~Prosperous Listening: Love me some Amy Teegan! Listen to her co-host on the Sell More Books Show {with Jim Kukral}


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