This is Novel Marketing, the longest-running book marketing podcast in the world. This is the show for writers who want to build their platform, sell more books, and change the world with writing worth talking about.
I’m your host, Thomas Umstattd Jr., and today’s episode is from the listener helpline!
I am going to assume the caller is writing nonfiction. If you are writing fiction, we literally have a course that walks you through exactly how to do this with fiction. But that course is focused on fiction. So how do you build a readership around your topic? So this is a nonfiction warning. We will be focusing on nonfiction in this episode.
If you want to hear the fiction version of this episode, listen to episode 092 The Guaranteed Way to Become A Bestselling Novelist.
Congrats on getting to 10 readers!
The first ten readers are always the hardest.
Research the Total Potential Market Size
It could be, you have found a niche that only a handful of people care about. The most common way this happens is when someone writes about thier own life. The potential audience for a memoir is limited to people who already spend time asking questions about the life of the author. For most people this is a few dozen at most. For an American president or major celebrity, it can be millions.
The other kind of nonfiction book that can be hard to find a market for is ranting. Political rants, theological rants, philosophical rants. No one wants to read the rants of a stranger.
Success in Publishing Requires Resonance
I’ve talked about resonance on my other podcast but I haven’t talked about it here.
In physics, resonance is like pushing a child on a swing. If you are in resonance with the frequency of the swing, you are pushing the child as she swings away from you. You are encouraging the swing in the direction it is already wanting to go. If you get the frequency wrong, you miss your push or you push the child off the swing.
As nonfiction writers, you have resonance when someone says “Yes! This puts into words what I have been feeling recently!”
Example: Resonance is why my blog post went viral. People were already frustrated with courtship.
How to Find Your Resonance
I am going to give you four big picture answers, and then three practical tactics.
1) Resonance is about timing.
- Culture changes over time.
- Too early, and you are out of step with the Zeitgeist. You are pushing the girl off the swing.
- Too late, and you are cliche. You are pushing after the swing has already out of reach.
- This is why it is so important to read the books in your genre.
2) Resonance is about audience.
- Each community vibrates at its own frequency.
- Saying your book is “for everyone” is like standing at a bank of swings trying to push all the swings at the same time.
- You have to watch the motion of a specific swing in order to push at the right time.
- You can’t resonate with every community.
- Being in sync with one community will put you out of sync with others.
- Women in nursing homes and men on basketball teams don’t read the same books.
- You need to know who your book is not for. That way, you don’t need to worry if they are unhappy about your book.
- You need to join the community you want to reach.
- If they won’t accept you, you won’t be able to find resonance with them.
- If you hate science fiction and want to write a book to “fix” it, you will fail. This is what is wrong with The Last Jedi. It wasn’t made by fans of Star Wars. They tried to “fix” something millions of people don’t think was broken. Making Luke Skywalker a coward, the rebellion incompetent, and Rey a nobody was the “fix” that broke Star Wars.
3) Resonance is about listening.
- You need to be able to hear the music around you to be in tune with it. You need to watch the swings. You get the idea.
- As novelists, this means watching the movies that your target readers watch. Reading the novels they read.
- As nonfiction writers, this means finding where the conversation about your topic is taking place and joining that conversation. Depending on your topic this may be blogs, podcasts, Reddit, Facebook groups, etc.
- Look for the questions people are asking about your topic.
- Blog about your topic and watch your analytics carefully to see what is resonating.
4) Resonance is about persistence
- It takes time to get into sync with those around you.
- It takes practice to be able to play music in tune with culture.
- It takes time to build a following, and this is good. It can be psychologically harmful to get famous overnight.
Resonance is Not Platform
- Resonance is so much more than how many people follow you on Social Media.
- Platform can be a sign of resonance, but it is not how you make resonance happen. Resonance is the horse. Platform is the cart the horse drags. Don’t put the cart in front of the horse.
- If you want to write books people want to read, you need to write the kind of books that people want to read.
- The key to resonance is to reach beyond yourself. Authors who write from a selfish place rarely have the vision to see how the swing is moving.
So with all that said, lets talk some specific tactics.
Resonance Booster #1 Blogging
For someone writing nonfiction, there are few things more powerful than a blog. Blogging gives you a place to practice finding resonance with your readers.
Write a blog post. Send ten personalized emails with a link to the blog post to your ten different friends.
You want to see if:
- they will read the blog post,
- if they will share it.
- If their friends will share it.
You know you are starting to find resonance when they share your post. You know you have really started to find resonance when the people they shared it with share your post.
Read the comments. The questions and objections in the comments will help you tweak your message.
I reader tested most of my chapter sections as blog posts before putting them into my book.
Technique #2 Start Speaking
Public speaking is another great way to find your resonance. While you can’t reach as many people as you can with a blog, you get real time feedback on if your message is connecting with your audience.
The eyes are the window into the soul. While speaking, look your audience in the eyes to help get your message into better resonance.
We have a couple episodes on public speaking:
Technique #3 Start Guesting
Guesting on podcasts is a nice hybrid between blogging and speaking. You have the reach of a blog and some of the real time feedback of speaking.
The questions the podcast hosts asks you helps you refine your message. The more interviews you get, the more comfortable you will get with your message and the more known you will be as an expert on your topic.
I have some exciting news regarding guesting here soon so stay tuned.
Listen to Episode 203 Book Marketing Milestones
Your blog is a key for building a platform, establishing your expertise, and gaining a loyal following. In this special video course Thomas Umstattd Jr. helps you craft the kind of blog posts people want to read and share. Whether you are writing articles for someone else’s site or crafting posts for your own blog, this course will help you get to the next level.
When it comes to blogging, Thomas Umstattd Jr. knows what he is talking about. His two blogs have several million page views and he has also coached authors all over the world who collectively get millions of visitors each year.
Peter DeHaan author of Women of the Bible: The Victorious, the Victims, the Virtuous. Peter thank you for helping keep Novel Marketing on the air!
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Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener help line! 512-827-8377. You can also send us a high quality recording on NovelMarketing.com/contact.