Cultivate Your Audience with this Tip

Good morning Story Empire readers, PH here with you today with more tips and information to help you along with your writing career. Since I began self-publishing several years ago, it’s been a long journey of learning, often through trial and error. Because I got off to a slow start marketing my book, there was a steep learning curve. Because of time spent learning, I also became someone more willing to try different things, maybe even make a few more mistakes.

With that understanding in mind, let’s explore a few more things that I’m working through for my marketing. One of my goals is to have more engagement with my reading audience. This is a little tougher than it seems and the fantasy audience for which I write can often be somewhat silent because there are a lot more men reading science fiction and fantasy. Men tend to be less communicative and responsive than women so they can be a challenge.

There are several ways to meet the goal of engaging readers more. One is to work on more public appearances, a topic I’m willing to delve into at a later time, but with which I have little experience. Since I’ve been predominantly published in the digital world, I spent a lot more time marketing to readers for e-books, audio and such so that is what I want to target today. Specifically, let’s have a look at private groups. If you are on Goodreads, you are familiar with the groups. Most of these are public, but you can also create private groups. Additionally, you can also create private groups on Facebook for almost any reason.

I understand the hesitance of many authors to engage in more work on social media when time can be so short. The good thing about a private group is that you don’t have to put a lot of time into it, just put some time into it. Likewise, if you have someone interested in helping you moderate these groups, you can recruit them to also monitor and respond to comments, even alert you when you really need to make an appearance to answer questions.

But why private groups? If the goal is to engage readers, you can use these private groups to meet and inform readers about specific goings on in your writing life. This information will be actionable for some followers, something which they will get out and share with others.

Additionally, you can share more specific information about your writing that is not otherwise available in the general public. This way you recruit interested readers and they feel more a part of your writing career. Engage these readers and they may want to share what’s going on your books with other people. Of course, you may be sharing excerpts and other information that is not yet public, so readers should be clearly informed what is and is not ready to be public. As with any aspects of marketing, tread lightly about how far you go sharing information and details lest you find that people might publicize what’s upcoming in a book or an announcement that cannot be made yet.

When creating a private group, you can add lots of threads and topics about what you want to discuss. As I shared last time about marketing content, add questions based on your books. This becomes a wonderful place to share information from reader guides as well as events in which you are taking part, even a few excerpts. Readers can often be very excited about what you’re doing and provide you with a great deal useful response. Here is a link to instructions for creating a private group on Goodreads.

Facebook has a few different ways you can handle a group than Goodreads. Personally, I’ve attached my private group to my author page so where readers see my author brand. This is where private groups extend your author brand directly to the readers. Here are instructions to create a private group on Facebook. Note there are privacy settings involved so use the link on the page to cover those options.

With a private group, you want to make the name distinctive. I named my groups Marston’s Station and the Broken Bow Inn, two specific places that readers of my current series will know and recognize. I can play off of the motif and theme as I post new topics and questions in my groups. This year I’m trying to post occasional questions about my books and any new announcements about upcoming titles. My groups are still small, but I’m working on it and hope to eventually gain more of an interactive following. It’s a work in progress and one that takes patience as many things with writing require.

There’s one more way you can have a private group, through your newsletter. This format will be a little different, but if you are using your newsletter regularly already, you can easily incorporate more in-depth information for your reading audience, including reader guide material. Using your newsletter in this way is slightly adjusting your outlook to the content you present in email and what your goals are. Using your newsletter as more of a private group, you can gain more interaction with readers and that engagement can really help in future book releases.

In what ways can a private group improve your reader engagement? What holds you back from digging a little deeper into getting to know your readers?

Thanks for visiting Story Empire today. If you found this post informative please share it on your social media or reblog it so others can read it too. Please leave your answers and thoughts in the comments section and I will reply as soon as I’m able.

P. H. Solomon

33 thoughts on “Cultivate Your Audience with this Tip

  1. This was definitely thought-provoking. I’m not a fan of Facebook, but I do like Goodreads and visit almost daily. It also gave me ideas about how to blend the Goodreads and blog audiences. Thanks, PH. Must muse over this more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If there were world enough and time… I find the idea of private groups enticing, but I’m struggling with so many commitments and I think I need to sit back and decide what to walk away from in order to keep body and soul together.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Of all of these, my choice would be to build my newsletter and develop a private group through that. I got rid of Facebook almost two years ago and other than logging titles on Goodreads, leaving reviews, and checking lists I’ve avoided GR because of the trolls. I do think developing the kind of interaction you reference is worthwhile. It’s just a matter of deciding which avenue works the best and devoting the time to do it. Sounds like I need to work on my newsletter again!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It is interesting to me that you make your groups private, Paul. I have a few groups on FB but they are public. In other words, anyone can view the content but you have to join the group to post to it. I belong to a few of those sorts of groups. I also belong to a few groups on Goodreads but that is the most I can manage with my day job, writing and other things I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can keep early information to your top fans. I invite people to mine from my newsletter but I’m likely to start putting it into a variety of places. I’ll follow up with more details in another post.


  5. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Check out PH Solomon’s Story Empire post today on cultivating your audience via private groups. Some great food for thought, with lots of options out there for you to consider. And I hope you’ll also consider passing the post along so others can enjoy it, too. Thanks, and thanks to PH for his super tips. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have one private blog, already, but it is exclusively for my beta readers/critique group who have been super supportive and very helpful as I work on my draft books. I’ve never tried another for reader contact, though I’ve had tons of fun with local groups and 1 to 2 monthly presentations. However, all of that came to a stop with the current virus situation (which shall go nameless here, as I can’t stand looking at it any more.) So, the last few months have brought home to me just how much I need and miss that reader engagement. You’ve given me something to think about, for sure. A private group would be a wonderful way to stay in touch with many of the local friends I’ve already made, and to add new friends who’d like to take part.

    Having said that, I deleted my FB page due to so much trouble with hacking and hijacking of my followers. And I’m not sure about GoodReads yet, though I was once active there until the trolls got so bad. I understand it’s better now, and keeping it private could work. But I think my first choice would be a private blog. I could post whatever I wanted there, and encourage conversation and feedback. Plus, I could set up followers to initiate posts, too. At least a few, if not all of them.

    Thanks for the ideas, PH. I’m definitely going to do some more thinking about this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t use GR effectively at all. I did create a FB group and enjoyed interacting there for a while. But it was too hard for me to keep up with and engagement was dropping (as it was with FB in general at the time). I finally decided to shut it down. I’d love to invent a social media platform that is author-friendly, troll-free, fast, and fun. But I’m no tech wizard and don’t have the time even if I was.

    Liked by 2 people

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