If You Build It, Will They Come?

Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

Hello SE Readers. Joan here today.

In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, begins to hear voices. “If you build it, he will come.” Those of us familiar with the movie know Ray plows up part of his cornfield to build a baseball diamond in hopes of communicating with his deceased father.

Several long-deceased players who were banned from baseball due to the 1919 “Black Sox Scandal” show up and begin to play ball. Ray’s father eventually comes, along with tens of thousands of people to see this “field of dreams.”

I’m not here to talk baseball today (although I am a big fan of the game) but about writing and promotion.

You have a dream. You want to become a published author. You’ve built the perfect website—even hired a professional designer to give it a unique look. And now, you’ve published your first book, and you’re an overnight success.

Okay, that is a dream. Not many writers are overnight successes. No matter what you build, you have to reach out to others. How?

If you build it, will they come? (Click to tweet)

It goes without saying that writers should be involved in social media. It seems that there are thousands, well maybe not thousands, but dozens of social media options. We have Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and the list goes on.

You don’t have to be part of every site. Pick two or three to start and begin building up your followers.

While social media is essential, a good website is a must. It’s your platform, a place to market yourself and your books, and the best place to connect with your readers. Make sure you have a blog as part of your website.

In my opinion, blogging for fiction writers is often more challenging than for non-fiction writers. Unless it’s a “how to” site like Story Empire, finding topics related to your books is often hard. I admit to struggling in that area. A few things I have done are character interviews, stories behind the story, and posts about settings.

For a while, I wrote a First Friday Fiction post but had to give that up because I found I was dedicating more time to writing flash fiction stories than longer works.

You don’t have to be religious to believe in The Golden Rule. The more you do for others, the more others will do for you. I’m not talking about doing just for the sake of getting something in return. Genuinely reach out to others and offer support when and where you can.

I recently opened my personal blog to guest authors. Not only does this give me content, but it also paves the way for my readers to learn about writers they may not be familiar with. And for me, it feels good when I can help encourage and support writers.

Several years ago, a friend and I began a local writer’s group. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing but invited guest speakers from time to time. My friend asked a published author who lived in a nearby town if she would be interested in speaking to our group. Her response? “What do you want from me? I don’t speak to groups, and I don’t help other writers.”

You can imagine how much that turned me off and even though I had read some of her books, I’ve never purchased another one. I vowed then and there that if I ever became a published author, I would do what I could to help others.

One of the most important things an author can do is build up their email list. Offer something free in return for those who subscribe to your newsletter. (Something I lack since I took my novella The Stranger and put it on Amazon a perma-free book.)  Yes, the “to-do” list grows.

Join up with a free give away promo site such as Instafreebie. I recently did a giveaway and doubled my subscriber list. Yes, you’ll always have those who later unsubscribe, but that’s okay. Don’t take it personally. You want followers who care about your work—not just those looking for something free.

But even with all the things I’ve listed, you must have valuable content. Write the best book you can write. Publish it and write again. The more of a backlist you have, the better.

As you can see, building something won’t guarantee visitors will come. You have to reach out. By taking small steps, others will begin to visit. If they like what they see, they’ll return.

By the way, in Field of Dreams people didn’t automatically come to see the place where a crazy farmer plowed up a field. They heard it by word of mouth. And when they heard, they came.

Joan Hall

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35 thoughts on “If You Build It, Will They Come?

  1. What a horrible remark by that author – I’d never buy another book either. Some of this I’m doing, but it’s always good to get new ideas – thanks, Joan!

    Like

  2. Your story about that nasty writer reminded me of the last Writers Police Academy I attended. The guest speaker was so rude, also drunk, I couldn’t stand her. She’s a well-known author, too. After the disgraceful “display” she put on, I’d never buy another one of her books. Personally, I wasn’t all that thrilled with her books anyway, but I might have given her another chance had she been a nice person. What we do in public and online matters. Great post, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would have probably done the same thing, Sue. It’s a shame that some writers, when they’ve sold a few books, suddenly consider themselves better than anyone else. And you’re right, what we do in public and online is there for the world to see. Being rude can easily turn people off. Thanks for stopping by today. Glad you liked the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a positively wretched thing for that other author to say. I can understand why you never read another book of hers. I’d be turned off too.

    I enjoy helping other authors. So many helped me when I ventured into the world of writing and online promotion, I’m happy to return the favor. As a whole, I think most authors would love to skip the promotion part when it comes to our own work. Sadly, we can’t. Even publishers expect it from their authors (well, unless you’re so established on that NYT list, it isn’t needed).

    A back list is definitely a plus. I noticed a difference in exposure once I started building up my back list but I still need to do so much more. Like the newsletter freebie you mentioned. And Instafreebie which I don’t understand at all. My to-do list is mutating again 🙂

    Thanks for a great post, Joan–and fond memories of a good movie.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You and I have discussed this. Even when we feel we’re doing everything right, we find it hard to gain traction. I think you’re doing everything right, and I think you’ll see positive results from it. Great information in this post, Joan. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Staci, I think we just have to take slow and steady steps. Sure, it would be nice to become an overnight success, but in reality, I’ll write even if no one reads. It’s just something I love to do. The results will come.

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  5. A lovely post, Joan, and useful. I find promotion the most difficult part of being an author. One of my favourite bits is the community side of things, and I love supporting others 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Excellent post, Joan!
    Yes, helping other fellow authors is a nice thing to do, at the same time helping you get more views by others and who knows? Likely they will become your readers, too. My blog has always been open to other fellow authors. So, whenever you need further promo, just let me know.

    Regarding that woman ( I won’t call her a lady) she is a mean, selfish person). There are a lot like her all over the world.I can’t understand why. There’s place for all of us in this huge world. There are readers for each and everyone of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Good post, Joan! Promotion is something I struggle with. I have no problem opening my blog to others… it’s just hard for me to put ME there. LOL! I know, I’m weird. But I’ve unfollowed/unsubscribed from authors because it was just one long infomercial. I don’t want to sound like that… and end annoying people AND myself. 😉

    I’m building it… slowly. And I’m working on the telling-people-about-it part. It’s a process! LOL! 😉

    Liked by 4 people

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