As authorpreneurs, we understand the impact an audience has on our success. We want to make sure we are delivering content that people want to read.
But what happens when you’re a new author and haven’t published yet? Maybe you’ve adopted a pen name to write in a different genre, or maybe you haven’t quite found that sweet spot. You aren’t sure how to cater to your audience the right way.
Testing your work before publishing is a great way to understand what your audience wants and what they are willing to buy from you.
Fear not! If you don’t have a mailing list or an audience yet, these tips are still extremely helpful for building a following and growing your readership.
Start a blog
The age old solution to building a mailing list or getting eyes on your work is posting on a blog. Fiction or non-fiction, blog writing is a great way to practice some SEO strategies and get some authentic page reads. Non-fiction writers have the upper hand with blogs – writing about their topic and establishing themselves as a thought-leader on the subject.
Fiction writers can still benefit from blogging, but don’t let it take away from the important work – writing fiction. You can even write your book via blog posts for each chapter. You’ll gain some interest, and if you don’t share all of your work, you can have an audience ready to purchase your book so they can figure out the ending.
Make sure you have a clear call to action in each post. Give them a link to your mailing list and encourage sign ups. Promise a few extra chapters if they sign up for your mailing list or give them a small freebie to keep them interested. Make it worth their while.
Share on Medium
Another great place to get eyes on your work is through Medium. While there is a price tag subscription, you’re reaching an audience that is actively looking for your kind of work. Fiction is less prominent on the site, but it’s a great way to establish yourself and grow your talents. You can learn a lot on the site, and it’s always worth the investment to improve your skills.
Create on Patreon
While this is incredibly useful if you already have an audience, it’s also a great way to connect with your fans and keep them interested in your work. Offer some chapters or stories for free, show some behind-the-scenes material, and give your fans something extra for following along and paying you. There are tons of ways to post for free but you can also offer premium content like free books in the future, extra stories, or exclusive first-looks at material.
Post on Wattpad
While you have to work to grow readers on Wattpad, this is a great place to test out your chapters and get some feedback. Most people on Wattpad are avid readers and writers, so they are always looking for new content. Plus, with a fiction focus, you can test out your chapters and specifically ask for comments and feedback. There are also several groups that offer reading and comment swaps so you can actually get feedback from people who are searching for it themselves.
You can offer bonus content on Wattpad like different perspectives, or you can test out new story ideas. Post a few chapters and ask if people are interested in the story, the things they like or dislike, and whether they think the characters are relatable. Treat it like a pre-beta reader.
Share on Scribophile
With both free and premium options, Scribophile is potentially a step up from Wattpad because the people there are actively working to publish their work. It’s a better model in that you have to give feedback in order to get it. If you haven’t participated in the writing community, you won’t be rewarded with the option to post your work. It’s a good way to develop your review skills as well as study other writing with a specific focus on producing good work rather than just writing and writing and not giving back to the community.
Build a beta reader list
Once again, this is easier if you do have some published work, but you can start to build a beta reader list now. Ideally, you have only a few (3-5) beta readers who are actively looking to give feedback on your work. You get a free community to showcase your work to and ask them for advice or direct them with questions about your work. Test new book ideas with them, share your outline and ask for feedback, and make sure they are within the target market for your story.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list, but you can get a good head start on having feedback on your work. Using these resources can help you target the right markets and deliver books that people want to read.
Laura Winter is the author of the Soul Series and Warrior Series in addition to several short stories and standalones. You can find all her relevant links here.