A Surprising Tip to Triple Audience Growth
As a fantasy author, I sometimes find myself envious of the protagonists of the stories I read and write. They exist in a world where they can magically make things happen, and I often desire to discover an easy way to get more readers for my book. If I had access to magic, I’d use it to gather flocks of new readers to not only enjoy my stories, but to also leave reviews on sites like Amazon. After all, a writer can dream!
Sadly, there is no magical shortcut to growing an audience. It is hard work – perhaps even harder than writing and editing your manuscript. Harder than finding an agent or a publisher. Those things mean little without at least some semblance of readership. Which may leave us asking: “How do we grow our audience?”
Gain More by Writing For Less
Authors who are trying to gain a footing are often told to write stories and submit them to small publications: magazines, journals, etc. Many of those calls for submission are low or non-paying publications. It is considered a way for authors to “pay their dues” by writing in those smaller markets, gaining a publishing record to support their efforts to publish something larger.
But if this tactic is a good way to prove to a larger publisher that your writing is marketable, then why couldn’t it also be a good tactic to reach new readers? After all, your work would be going out to someone else’s established audience base. These are readers that, in all likelihood, you’d be reaching for the first time. Readers whom you can introduce to your writing style in a short format, whetting their appetite to discover more of what you have to offer in your books and stories. This is also viable because most publishers of these magazines and anthologies allow authors to include a link or two for the publication. This is a great way to gain new followers, direct them to other things you have written, and to land a reader into your email/newsletter list.
There is no shortage of markets out there seeking short stories and poetry for publication. Many of them are unable to pay authors, but provide this added benefit of exposure. Instead of pouring your heart and soul into being the most interactive author on Social Media, perhaps your efforts could be divided to allow you to write and edit some smaller stories. They could be related to the world in which the rest of your work takes place, or be their own uniquely independent creations. The content itself isn’t important – developing a base of readers who enjoy your imagination and writing style will win the interest of readers.
Where to Find Opportunities
One of the best ways to find these opportunities comes through your Social Media network. There are groups of authors and publishers out there who share these opportunities. I’ve been a part of a Facebook group for Sci-Fi & Fantasy open calls Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Pulp Markets group:for at least two years now, and several of my published stories came about because of these open calls. This is a sure way to get notified about opportunities that are big and small, ones with varied payment rates, and to find even some that are looking for reprints.
There are also websites out there dedicated to cataloging open calls, such as Writing Career. This site contains over a thousand open calls for writers, ranging across a multitude of genres and even containing open calls for full books. An hour or two spent browsing though here is sure to garner at least a few opportunities for any writer out there.
One of the more important lessons I had to learn was to stop trying to fit an existing story into an open call. Many of these solicitations are seeking specific themes or approaches in the stories. The chances of finding that open call where your already-written story will fit perfectly can be low. I chose, instead, to view these as opportunities to sit down and write something new. I would mark down half a dozen calls, their due dates, and their specific requirements and see how many of those I could write something to submit.
The road to growing an audience is not a short one. There are no quick and easy methods, apart from becoming an overnight sensation. And we all know the odds of that happening are pretty slim for every author, as most overnight successes are actually built upon years of work that eventually pays off for the author. But a very solid step along that path is to write and submit shorter fiction, using their existing audiences to your benefit in getting your name and your books promoted.
David Wiley is an author of science fiction and fantasy stories, choosing to write the stories that he would love to read. His first fantasy novella, A Merchant in Oria, was published by OWS Ink, LLC. and is available now. His first novel, Monster Huntress, will be coming in 2018.
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