Hey, indie writers? This is what marketing your self-published books is about. It's about catering to your true fans, even if that might upset some people. As you're aware, I'm doing a cleaning spree on Twitter, unfollowing most accounts, so I'm left only with about 2K of those that I really want to follow and read. After being on Twitter for almost 5 years, it's not easy. In fact, it's ruffling some feathers, as you might have seen in the comments to this post about dealing with online trolls.
Why am I doing it?
I'm doing it to cater to my true fans. I used to be afraid to say this word, "fans." It felt odd. Weird. Exhilarating, and yet still weird. Me, having fans? How could I? I'm a nobody. It felt somehow self-serving and egoistic by saying it. Slowly, I've gotten used to the idea that I do have fans. And they are true fans, fans who send me money when they themselves are struggling financially. Fans who support me in my darkest moments, dragging me out of my gloomy murderous moods and spanking my ass to get me back to writing. Fans who are patiently waiting for my next book to be published, who have already read every single draft of that book and have pre-ordered it and donated me more money on top of it. Fans who have sent me messages, saying they will travel to my first book reading this Friday, even though they don't live in Seattle.
It makes me feel very strange and self-conscious typing all this, because I still can't believe it. I have fans? Really? True fans? Fans who would read anything I write? Fans who, like one of them said, would read my grocery lists?
Yes. Yes. YES.
I have to bang my head on the wall to believe it. And I know many of you have virtually smacked me many times to stop doubting and degrading myself. I'm working on it, okay?
I'm working on it!
After growing up being beaten down and abused and told that I'm a liar and a drama queen and that everything I do is shit and I will never amount to anything in my life, it's pretty fucking hard to believe that I'm on my way to reaching my dream.
Thanks to you, yes, TO YOU, I'm getting better at it.
Hence, my Twitter purge.
There are many of those who are my true fans whom I'm not following back because they have found me recently, and then there are those people who have been with me for years from my early Twitter days. The disconnect here it, it makes my new true fans feel sad that there are some other "special people" I'm following, when they are doing so much for me, and I'm not following them back.
So, I want to cater to my true fans and to put everyone on the same page.
If you want to stay with me, if you like reading my tweets, my Facebook or Google+ updates, my blog posts, you will stay with me even after I unfollow you. It doesn't mean that your tweets are boring or anything of the sort! I simply can't physically read tweets of so many people!!! If you won't stay with me after I unfollow you, then it's good that we will part. Less clutter in our lives.
Once again, I will repeat, this is not a game about numbers. The number of followers on Twitter doesn't matter.
WHAT MATTERS IS THE NUMBER OF YOUR TRUE FANS.
You only need 1,000 true fans to make a living by self-publishing your books (provided you produce good books and publish 3-4 of them a year). Here is a little rant I did on Twitter about how to make a living as a self-published writer.
- Find a way to support yourself for 3 years. It can be any job, as long as you have time to write every day at least 500 words. Write and read every day.
- Prepare to be alone and write like mad. Don’t go to parties, don’t watch TV for hours, concentrate on producing as many books as possible.
- Get online and interact with every single person who talks to you. Your goal is to cultivate 1,000 true fans, people will buy ANYTHING you produce.
- In the 1st year you will accumulate 100 fans, in the 2nd year it will rise to 500, in the 3rd to 1,000. That’s enough to make a living.
- A true fan will buy ANYTHING YOU WRITE. They will drive to your book events to see you. They will spend money on you when they have hardly any.
- A fan will spend $100 on you per year (4 print books plus donations, other merchandise, tickets to events, etc.). 1,000 fans per 1 year equals $100,000. That’s more than enough for you to live on.
- As a self-publishing author, produce at least 4 books a year to make this happen. That's 1 book every 3 month. Yes, you heard it right.
- Keep producing great work, never stop. After year 3, your fandom will keep growing, provided you’re steadily producing great books.
- Learn to nurture and grow your fans. Interact with them. Sadly, some writers don’t want to talk to their fans and then wonder why their books don’t sell.
- If you don’t want to talk to your fans, hire someone who can help you talk to them. Until then, you will unlikely make a living.
- Traditionally published authors need more than 1,000 fans simply because the majority of money fans shell out goes to the publisher.
- If you self-publish, however, all you need is about 1,000 true fans, and you can make a living. Numbers vary, of course.
Your true fans are the people who will buy your books. They are invisible to you behind all that clutter, so you can't cater to them, and that's a shame. That's lost business for you.
You've seen my numbers drop on Twitter every day (I had 69K followers when I stared this, down to 64K), because every day I unfollow about 1K accounts (about 15K more to go). Funny enough, I have dropped 38K accounts so far, but have lost only 5K followers. Of those 33K who stayed about 20K are dead accounts, accounts that people have abandoned. So it tells me that about 13K of the rest are actually people who want to keep following me. That's huge.
THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE STAYED WITH ME.
Once I'm done with this unpleasant unfollowing business, and once I'm done with my ghostwriting project (well, with the main bulk of it), in about 2-3 weeks, I will start on my 4th novel, CORNERS, and I will write my fucking ass off to give you, my true fans, the best book I can possibly write. To take away your worries. To make you laugh. To suck you into my imagination and make you forget your problems and troubles and anything that bothers you. To give you a little love and happiness.
This is my job as a writer.
I will write crazy magical fabulous books for you until I can't write anymore. Until my eyes go blind. Until my fingers curl up from arthritis. Until everything in my body disintegrates and I die. Until that moment, I will keep writing.