After coaching more than 1,000 authors over the past 15 years, it’s safe to say that I’ve seen specific patterns in writer behavior.
For example, authors always cringe when someone writes a negative review about their books on Amazon. It’s natural to fear criticism, especially when the negative remarks are available for the public to see.
Here’s another common pattern. Most authors focus on writing their books before marketing their books. Seems like a rational approach to publishing, right? Create the content before you try to sell it.
But, what if this approach sets up the author for failure? What if writing a book before building an audience is a recipe for disaster?
The more I coach authors, the more I see writers putting the cart before the horse. We write books and then try to sell them. This approach is backwards. No wonder the vast majority of books never break even. No wonder most authors don’t make money from their work.
Instead, I recommend that you do the opposite:
Build an audience first.
Then, publish a book that your audience is willing to buy.
Do the marketing before the publishing.
In fact, don’t publish a book until you know there are enough people who want to read it.
Why is building an audience first so beneficial? Let me count the ways:
1. A traditional publisher will give you a lot of up-front money, such as a six-figure advance, when you already have a built-in audience ready to purchase.
2. It is less stressful and more fun to publish a book when you know beforehand that a lot of people are waiting to buy.
3. When you build a big audience before you publish, it’s easier to test the material, hone the content, and ensure readers will love it, which leads to greater word of mouth.
4. Building a large audience positions you to generate a bigger book launch, quickly secure hundreds of Amazon reviews, and possibly hit a bestseller list.
5. When you construct a substantial audience ahead of time, you’re in a position to create spinoff products that lead to greater revenue, such as sequels, public speaking, courses, coaching, training, etc.
However, notice how none of the positive outcomes that I listed above are likely to happen if you publish a book without having an audience.
It takes an audience of readers to generate book sales.
Yet, too many authors write a book, send it out into the world, and hope for the best. It’s more akin to gambling than publishing.
Why roll the dice when you can plan for a positive result?
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. How does an author build an audience before having a book?
Isn’t it a case of the chicken before the egg?
Here are several ways to create a following before you publish a book:
1. Build a big email list by offering free content as a signup incentive.
2. Advertise your free content offer on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
3. If you’re a novelist, give away free short stories or a prequel novella to attract readers. Use BookFunnel to promote your free offer in tandem with other novelists.
4. If you’re a business or educational nonfiction writer, ask current clients to guarantee bulk purchases of your future book in exchange for public speaking appearances.
5. Write a consistent blog and urge people to sign up for new posts.
6. Start a podcast or YouTube channel and ask people to subscribe.
7. Pursue public speaking and secure 1 – 2 engagements per month.
There are many ways to build an audience before you publish a book.
I’ve helped multiple authors land lucrative traditional publishing contracts by teaching them how to build a big audience first. Top publishers fought over themselves to work with these authors.
I’ve also helped self-published writers successfully launch their books by showing them how to create a following before the book is released.
In contrast, you’re in a position of weakness if you publish a book without constructing an audience first. This explains why the majority of authors fail to succeed.
Most traditionally-published books never earn back their advance. Most self-published books never sell more than 500 copies in total.
I want you to avoid that fate. Don’t follow the herd. Do the opposite.
Be the rare author who exceeds expectations, enjoys launching a book without stress, and can’t wait to do it again.
Build an audience before you publish a book.