Monday, 30 September 2013

Building a Fanbase...There's One Waiting For You Right Now

New writers or established writers starting a new pen name usually throw up their hands in despair at the advice 'build a fanbase'. It seems like an insurmountable task, a mountain to climb that looks daunting when you're standing at the bottom about to take the first step.

If you write genre fiction, here's some good news for you:

Your book already has a fanbase.

"What?! But nobody has ever heard of me. My pen name is new. Everybody in the world hates me," I hear you cry.

All that is probably true. YOU don't have a fan base yet. But your BOOK has a fanbase already. And they are eagerly awaiting to buy it and read it.

Every genre has its fans. Sci Fi fans are looking for the next great Sci Fi book to tell their friends about. Horror fans are waiting for a good book to appear in the genre they love. New Adult Romance fans are eager to find a gem of a Romance and tell their Goodreads network all about how it was so amazing.

So what can you do to turn some of these ready made fans into YOUR fans?

It's so simple and so difficult at the same time. You need to write a good book in the genre.

The keyword in that sentence above is 'good'. The fans are out there and they are waiting for good books.

A lot of writers bemoan the fact that they are writing in the popular genres but their books just aren't taking off dammit!

I would suggest that the reason these writers aren't finding mega-stardom is down to 2 things:

1) they aren't writing good enough books.
2) they aren't writing in a genre they love.

Number 1 sounds harsh but it needs to be said. When writing in a genre that they think is 'hot', a lot of writers aim for 'good enough' when they should be aiming for great. The New Adult fans aren't waiting for the next 'good enough' book, they are waiting for a book that will get their pulses racing. The horror community doesn't want  a cookie cutter inferior version of something they've already read; they want a book that is going to make them say, 'Whoa, that was damn good,' after they finish it.

So if you want to tap into a genre's ready-made fanbase, make sure your book is good. Make it one they won't be able put down. One they have to tell their friends about. Nothing sells a book like word of mouth.

Point number 2 above addresses an issue that is very common in today's market. Writers aren't writing for themselves, they are writing what they think will sell. They chase markets, putting out product that is designed to draw in readers from already-popular books. If a book about an alien invasion of New York is selling well, a number of writers are going to hit their desks in the morning and start typing out their books about alien invasions in an attempt to capture the same audience that drove the first book up the charts. Sure, their alien invasions might take place in Florida or California or Spain but they will try to get a similar cover to the first book and 'cash in' on the same audience.

Will their books be good or just 'good enough'?

If you're a writer then you love books. You love certain types of books, the ones you read growing up and the ones you devour today. Whatever genre the books you love are in, that is the genre you should be writing. Your books will have more authenticity, more heart. Readers CAN tell when an author is writing in a genre they don't love just because it's 'hot'.

It may be that the genres you love ARE hot, in which case you are golden.

But just because you like horror doesn't mean you can't make a living writing horror. It might seem that the entire world is only buying New Adult Romance but that isn't true. The horror fans are still out there and they're still waiting for the next good horror book to fall into their laps.

Think about the fans you connect with and write for them. Or even better, write for yourself. Write the books you would want to read.

And don't be surprised when you suddenly have a solid base of fans.


  1. Great post, TW. I'm very frustrated by the intense focus in indie land on writing only in "hot" genres and copying whatever was successful the last time around.

  2. What if you write the books you want to read...and no one else wants to buy and read them? ;) Happens to me a lot.

    How about an update on your sales? If not on Kb, then here. What genres, lengths, serials vs. standalones, etc. are selling best now and how that compares to last year.


    1. Hi Zena

      Well of course that can happen too. There is no guaranteed way of making sales, just ways to make your chances better. I would re-evaluate the covers, blurbs, etc. Take a look at what readers have said and see if there are any comments that say the same thing. Give it to a friend who likes the genre and ask them to read your work and give you feedback. If you don't know any in real life, there are plenty on the net in forums, chat rooms, etc.

      Some things have changed since last year regarding price points but the series approach still works best for most people. I'll think about doing a post in the near future.:)