The Creator Economy: Building an Audience of Readers
Putting yourself out there as a writer is hard. Successful publication is as much about marketing yourself and your work as it is about the quality of your prose. The uphill battle to engage readers and get them interested can be understandably daunting. We recently spoke to some of our users about building an audience, what struggles they face, and what tools Novlr can provide to make the process a little less overwhelming.
What struggles do writers face?
When building an audience, the big and obvious question that most writers have is “how?”. There is no simple answer or shortcut we can provide – the reality is it will take a lot of hard work and perseverance.
There are many things that budding authors will struggle with, and one of the most significant pain points we’ve learned is taking the first step to putting yourself and your work out there. Writing is a deeply personal endeavour, so baring your soul to a lot of strangers is difficult. The writers we’ve spoken to are all aware that it’s something they’ll need to do, but taking that first step is the hard part.
Another struggle, especially for new authors, is finding out who their audience actually is. Finding and building an audience of readers isn’t just a numbers game – it’s about discovering your niche. Advertising can sometimes feel like screaming into a void, but your readers are out there. You just need to know where to look.
Time can also be an issue when marketing your work and trying to gain a following. Community engagement and keeping yourself in the spotlight can often feel like a full-time job. It’s the element of audience building that puts most writers off before they’ve even taken the first step.
What steps can writers take?
The journey won’t be easy, but thankfully there are things writers can do to maximise their potential for audience building.
Target your marketing
The most important thing is to make your marketing specific and targeted. A smaller group of actively engaged fans are far more valuable than a huge following. With a bit of preparation, you can strike up conversations with those best placed to become lifelong fans. A direct relationship with a target few promotes a better experience for both readers and authors. You’ll have a select group of dedicated readers who will read almost everything you put out. They’ll spread the word for you, leaving you with more time to do what you love; write.
Do your research
Market research is an essential part of building an audience. Putting the time into knowing where your book sits in the market and understanding your niche will make it so much easier to build your audience in the long run. Even if the pool is smaller, targeting “kindred spirits” who share your interests is a better strategy than targeting a larger audience who might not be that engaged with your work.
A big mistake that many new writers make is targeting the writing community. The writing community make great cheerleaders, and they are outstanding at helping writers develop their craft, but they are not your long-term readership. Thousands of writers following you on social media will not translate to book sales. Audience building needs to focus on who will read your book, not just who supports your journey.
Diversify your output
Writing a bestselling novel is the dream, but it’s a single piece of work that has to do a lot of heavy lifting. You may have a novel to sell, but without drawing a readership in, it’s hard to get them to commit their time and money.
Don’t be afraid to release teasers, short stories, or even play with varying styles to really engage your audience. By giving readers a sense of who you are as a writer, they’ll be able to actively decide whether you’re someone they’re interested in supporting. Your writing won’t be for everyone, so letting readers decide that in advance will help you target your audience and keep your readership active. You’ll build a community around your work, so when it finally comes to selling your novel you’ll have a core group of people ready to pay you for your words and give you those coveted positive reviews.
How can Novlr help?
Writers need a simple way to build a readership, communicate and engage directly with their readers, and ultimately, monetise their work. We’ve been working on a tool that will provide just that.
Knowing the struggles writers face when building an audience helps us determine which features are the most important to you. Our working title for this new tool is Novlr Audience. We’ve built a proof of concept that we are continuing to develop based on your feedback.
Developing an audience isn’t just crucial for self-published authors. Traditional publishers are also looking for writers with captive audiences as they bring guaranteed book sales to the table. But an audience doesn’t always assure an income. This is why we want to make sure that fiction writers can earn money from their writing in a sustainable way that promotes long-term engagement and revenue.
We want to build a tool that streamlines the process of audience building. We want to provide you with an author hub that includes a website to show off your portfolio of work, social tools to allow you to engage with your readers directly, and a sales funnel where you can sell your work or integrate with the sales platform of your choice. Most importantly, however, we want to help writers earn a living from their active audiences through subscriptions, where readers can become supporters.
Platforms like Patreon and Substack have proven there is a place for subscription models in the creator economy, and Brandon Sanderson’s recent record-breaking Kickstarter campaign has shown that fans are willing to take risks and support authors they feel passionate about.
While subscription services are already out there, there isn’t an option that caters to the unique needs of fiction writers, and that’s what we hope to build and provide for our users. We want to empower writers with the tools they need to build their audiences.