As you all know (and for those who don’t), I am working on a flash fiction collection, which I plan to self-publish. I decided to create a flash fiction collection because I wanted to start building a fan base before I attempt to get my novel published. However, recently, it dawned on me that it won’t be that straightforward. For a start, I, as a reader, am unlikely to buy a self-published book by an author I don’t know, so I can’t expect readers to part with their money when they don’t know me. And this made me realise that it’s better to have a fan base before I publish anything and expect money for it. So to begin my fan base building quest, I searched on the internet for tips and found this interesting article titled ‘How Do You Establish a Fan Base *Before* You Launch Your Book?’.
And from my research, I have come up with six tips that I will try to help build my fan base.
1. Create a blog/website
A website is a great way for your potential readers to find out who you are, and what you have to offer. You can show your list of published stories, share your writing journey via a blog, and connect with your fans. You can also get subscribers to your website so they can be notified every time you write a post. And you can also use your website to share your stories for free – this allows potential fans to get to know your style of writing, and to see if they like what you have to offer.
Now, I already have a website, which I blog on, people can subscribe to my website, and they can comment on my posts. However, I don’t have a contact form, and I don’t share my stories on my website, so these are some things I will be adding to my website.
2. Use social media
Social media is a great way to help you promote your work. It also enables you to build up a following, and from here you can keep your fans up-to-date on your latest news and share links to your books and stories. There are loads of different types of social media websites you can use, so make sure you pick the ones that can benefit you the most and are something you will be comfortable in using.
Here are 10 of the most popular social media sites:
Each social media site has different features to offer you. For example, on Facebook, you can create a Facebook page for your fans to follow. You can also advertise your events such as book launches. On YouTube, you can video yourself reading a section from your book, or you can create a book trailer.
From what I’ve read, you need to make sure that your social media accounts are interesting and engaging if you want to build up a following.
3. Share your stories for free
At the start of my writing journey, I published my story ‘Cake for a Neighbour’ on Shortbread Stories. Now, I didn’t publish my story to build a fan base – I published my short story to see if my writing was any good – but Shortbread Stories is a great place to find readers, and even when feedback is given it’s always constructive and never nasty (well, it wasn’t for me).
It’s a great idea to share your stories for free because everyone loves free stuff, and it allows a reader to get to know an author without it having to cost them anything. What you decide to publish for free is up to you: you can publish short stories, e-book story collections, and even a novel – you can publish the first novel of a series for free.
Here are some websites you can publish your stories on:
If you want to see more websites you can publish your stories on, then see this ‘14 Free Platforms to Share Your Short Stories Online’ article.
I plan to start sharing my short stories on my website, and I will create an e-book sample of my flash fiction collection, which will be free – fingers crossed that goes well.
4. Get stories published
Trying to get short stories published is something I have done from the beginning. I knew that if I wanted to be taken seriously by agents and publishers, I would need to have competition wins, or short stories published by magazines, webzines, and anthologies. And some of the magazines, webzines, etc. offer payment for your stories, which is great for your bank account. Now, I must warn you that submitting your stories can often lead to a lot of rejection, but when you do receive an acceptance, it makes all the rejection worthwhile. If you’re struggling to deal with rejection (like I have done in the past), then you should read my Horror Tree posts titled ‘Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Rejection – The Ugly Word’ and ‘Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Rejection Gets Better’.
If you don’t know how to find magazines and websites to send your stories to, then read my blog post ‘How I Find Homes for My Stories’. I have listed all the websites I use to find magazines, websites, and anthologies, etc.
5. Guest post on other websites
Guest blogging on other websites (especially popular ones) are a great way to get your name out there. I currently write posts for the Horror Tree website. I share my experiences of dealing with self-doubt as a writer, and how I have overcome my fears. It’s always nice when people comment and say how my post has helped them. It’s also a great way to connect with other writers, which lead to my final tip.
From my experience, writers are happy to help other writers (we’re lovely people lol). But you must remember that if you want people to help you, you must be willing to help them. And if you want people to read and review your book, then you too must read and review books written by other authors, especially other self-published books if you decide to go this route.
I must admit, I don’t often write book reviews, but I vow to make sure that I review the books I have read. And I will also read books (novels, and story collections) by indie authors.
So there you have it – six tips on how to build a fan base. I will be trying all of the tips I have mentioned above, and I will share my experiences with you. And if you have any tips of your own or you plan to try any of the tips above, then please let me know via the comments.
Keep writing, folks!