Author Archives: Frank Morin

About Frank Morin

Frank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he's often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on his sci-fi time travel Facetaker novels, his popular YA fantasy novel, Set in Stone, or other upcoming book releases, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Growing Our Fan Bases – Month-end Roundup

This month, the Fictorians provided a wealth of information about starting, managing, and growing our critical fan bases.

We discussed starting with what we have – friends and family – to begin building our street team and fan base. And did a deep dive into the pros and cons of running a fan forum.

We explored using Mailing lists, working our newsletters, and a reminder that we don’t write in a vacuum, nor do we have to go it alone. We explored options for collaborating with other authors and cross-promoting.

For those willing to be sociable and interact with fans and the public, we had three posts discussing using conventions and appearances, speaking engagements, and school visits.

We discussed the power of tapping the tremendous community of indie bookstores.

And we even discussed ways we get in our own way and prevent success.

So take some time and review the amazing posts from this month again. There’s meat in there for newbies and experienced authors alike.

You Are Not Alone

Writing is by its nature a solitary occupation.

But writers don’t have to be alone.

We don’t have to channel our inner Robin from the Lego Batman movie when he asks himself, “What would Batman do?” and decides Batman would “go in alone!”

As authors we wear a lot of hats and have to learn a lot about a lot of things, but no one ever said we have to do everything alone, figure it all out without help, and build our readership in a vacuum.

One resource most authors end up with in spades is a fantastic secret weapon: other authors!

We’re all trying to build readerships and connect with fans, but one great thing about being an author is that we don’t have to consider other authors as competitors. Our industry is not like real estate or car sales. A book buyer won’t just buy one book and keep it for years. They buy books a lot, and there’s no way any one author can write enough to satisfy all the demands of all of their readers.

So we need other authors. Our fans need other authors. They actually appreciate it if we help them connect with other great reads.

So use those connections. Work with other authors to cross-promote your stories and reach a far greater fan base by helping each others’ fans get more great books.

This website – Fictorians – is one way for a large pool of authors to provide content that far exceeds anything we could do alone.

When it comes to book sales, there are lots of ways to collaborate and cross-sell. For example:

  • Guest blog on each others’ blog sites.
  • Include interviews with other authors in your newsletters to your fans, particularly if you don’t have any big news of your own to share with them.
  • Share other authors’ new releases and big sales events with your fans and via your social media. People like seeing that you’re not focused only on yourself.
  • Get into a book bundle.
  • Even if you can’t get into a formal bundle, there’s no reason you can’t cross-promote with other authors and set up sales to coincide with one of your launches. I’m beginning a cross-promotional, unofficial bundle like this with three other authors. I expect it’ll produce lots of results for all of us.

So keep writing. Do everything you can to push your craft and your career forward.

And look for ways to share the journey. It’s a lot more fun that way.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Contemporary Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

School Visits – A Captive Audience?

For authors who write middle grad or YA books, it seems like a no-brainer to include school visits in our plan to build our fan bases, right?

Maybe.

Like a lot of things, it depends on your personality, your books, and how you approach those visits. I personally love visiting schools, even though I haven’t sold lots of books as a direct result of most of those visits. Still, I consider visiting schools, teaching kids about writing, talking about stories, and mentoring young writers well worth my time.

Through the process, I’ve learned a few things.

  1. When you first approach schools, don’t be surprised if they’re wary. These days a lot of indie authors try to get school visits, but few seem interested in helping busy teachers, administrators, and librarians accomplish their curriculum objectives. And they don’t have time to babysit an author coming only to pitch their book.
  2. When you do get school visits, many schools are happy to set you up in the library. Don’t be surprised if you don’t have tons of visitors, unless you schedule with teachers in advance.
  3. Get to know the librarians. Promise them a free book. They love free books, and I always give them one every time I visit. Ask them to put you in touch with English teachers or other teachers who might be interested in meeting with you.
  4. Contact those teachers and ask them what they need, or how you can support and assist their current plans.
  5. Note – don’t be surprised if quite a few teachers scoff at the idea of some indie hack coming into their classrooms and teaching their students anything they couldn’t teach themselves. Some teachers are very open and friendly, but some are quite snobby, even though they usually have no idea how to actually write a publishable story. I’ve had to work through that in initial visits where I prove I know what I’m talking about, students enjoy interacting with me, and I bring value. They’re often much more eager to invite me back a second time.
  6. Be friendly and smile a lot.
  7. Offer to teach students about writing. I’ve spent entire days at local schools teaching students about writing and holding writing workshops with them. Students love it best when only a little formal instruction is given, followed by a hands-on exercise. I really enjoy building a story with students, and they usually love the opportunity to help create stories together.
  8. Prepare a message or presentation that appeals to a wide audience beyond just your books. I’m working on a couple different presentations suitable for larger audiences that should make administrators a lot more eager to invite me to come speak to their schools.
  9. Although it is possible to set up a big book signing event at the school, the more I learn, the more I think there are better ways. One well known author I know warned me that sometimes holding a big book signing can actually generate hostility from the school.

He pointed out that at least one teacher or administrator at almost every school fancies themselves an author, and they often feel resentment when they seen tons of students lining up to buy books.

So for a really big book signing, a great suggestion they gave me is to line up multiple school visits for the same area over a couple of days, and send all the kids home with a notice that you’ll be holding a big book signing at a local bookstore or venue close to the schools. Then the kids and their parents can come on Saturday and buy your books.

I plan to test this approach soon, and I’m eager to see how it goes.

10. Finally, know your objectives. Make sure you’re helping the school and bringing value to them. You’ll get exposure, if not tons of sales at first, but over time, it really pays off.

I’ve been cultivating relationships with local schools for the past few years, and I have a strong local fan base, partially because of those efforts. Plus I’ve helped a lot of budding authors learn some things I wish I’d known at their age.

 

We Don’t Write in a Vacuum

Writing in a vacuumSome writers write as a hobby, and don’t really expect anyone else to read their stories. Some people put pen to paper to record their memoirs, or to produce a work for close family and friends. Some literary writers seek to push the boundaries of the written word, without the weight of commercial sales holding them back.

We are not those writers.

Professional writers write with the goal of producing stories that people want to read. Hopefully lots of people. We develop craft and work with relentless determination to give our readers stories that entertain, instruct, and explore weighty matters of human existence.

To succeed as a professional writer, we need to sell enough books to support our work. So we need to develop, expand, and preserve our fan base.

How do we do that?

For new authors, it means starting at the beginning. That might include starting our own blogs, creating a newsletter, and deciding what content people want to see.

As our fan bases grow along with our story counts, what channels do we utilize to deliver those products? What marketing efforts work, and which ones flop?

This month, the Fictorians will explore these and other aspects of building our fan bases. I know I’m looking forward to a lot of great content.