For decades, the gatekeepers to reach large audiences of book consumers meant going through retailers, publishers, libraries, and national media outlets. These organizations hold the keys to reaching millions of readers. But, access to their audiences are limited unless one purchases paid advertising, hires a publicity firm, or undertakes an expensive, time-consuming, tour of the country. For the most part, authors who want to reach the masses are at the mercy of these options…until now.
Today, many authors are building audiences so large that they are the new gatekeepers. For example, consider the audience size of these three New York Times bestselling authors:
Authors / Organization:
Lisa Lillien / Hungry Girl – 1,200,000 email subscribers
Lysa TerKeurst / Proverbs 31 – 900,000
Ruth Soukup / Living Well-Spending Less – 130,000
(Note that I chose to display each authors’ email subscriber lists, rather than their website stats or social media figures. Their numbers in those categories are certainly substantial. But, research has shown email to be 12 times more effective than social media at acquiring new customers.)
As these authors built huge audiences over time, they made it much easier to sell thousands of their books. But, more importantly, they began to attract attention from other entities seeking access to their audience. That interest has created exciting new revenue opportunities for the authors through paid advertising, joint partnerships, corporate spokesperson roles, etc.
In an ironic reversal of roles, authors who had to pay companies for advertising now charge companies to advertise products to their audience. The authors listed above routinely receive thousands of dollars for individual ad space. This growing trend represents one of the most exciting times in literary history to be an author.
If you’re an author, how can you capitalize on this opportunity?
1. Focus on building your own audience. Your writing career will feel much more stable when you own the numbers, rather than relying on someone else to bring the numbers to you. (If this idea feels foreign to you or you’d like additional instruction, check out my online video course: How to Build a Massive Online Audience.)
2. Place special priority on growing your email subscriber list. Facebook is constantly changing the rules. Whereas, your email list is the one audience component that can completely control.
3. Success breeds success. I’ve consulted with numerous A-level authors, and I always tell them, “Success is the key that unlocks bigger doors.” Below are examples of what I mean:
• Offer paid advertising and attract like-minded companies and sponsors.
• Make yourself available as a paid corporate spokesperson.
• Start your own national radio program, TV show, podcast, or YouTube channel.
• Host your own live events that attract thousands of attendees.
• Create inner-circle groups where people pay premium fees for exclusive access.
The digital revolution has made today an exciting time to be an author, especially if you learn how to build a sizeable audience. Why rely on the old gatekeepers to reach readers when you can be the new gatekeeper?