iUniverse advises that in self-publishing, the key word is self. An indie author can’t afford to simply publish a book, kick back, and wait for the world to take notice. Like tribes in the deep jungle untouched by the outside world, your fans await, but they must be found.
Like an intrepid anthropologist, you must conduct extensive research before you amble into the world wide jungle. You want to meet the friendly natives, whose language you know, not the head hunters with whom you share no common ground.
Book marketing guru Seth Godin explains that 1000 true fans will keep you in business much longer than 10,000 fair weather fans. These he refers to as your tribe.
Think Like a Tracker
To find your tribe you must think like one. Successful trackers don’t stagger aimlessly around in the woods armed to the teeth. They know where the quarry is likely to be and they go there and wait.
Do marksmen spray shots into the bush hoping for game to fall dead at their feet? Not only is it wasteful, it is irresponsible and would likely result in injury. If you take a shotgun approach to Facebook and Twitter with the same buy now pitch you will do the same to your online credibility; blow it full of holes.
Finding your tribe will take time, strategy, and familiarity.
Identify your genre
Amazon.com is a valuable resource and home to many a fellow tribesman, but where? From the home page, head to the book department. On the left of the screen the books are divided by genre; scout around.
Where does your book belong? Let your instinct guide you. Make a careful study of books like yours. Let’s click on a genre. We are immediately taken to a list of titles arranged by popularity. They’re arranged according to two key pieces of information; how many reviews and the average rating. This identifies the best sellers.
Now identify what is new and currently trending by looking to the top left, you see “New releases” from the last 30 days and the last 90 days. Make a note of the ones most interesting.
You can click on the covers and get a better feel for the book. Are any similar to yours?
Find the Tribe
Do a Google search on the titles and the authors you feel are similar to your work and style. This will uncover where people interested in these types of books hang out. Which forums or blogs turn up? Make a note of these. Copy the URL’s into a spreadsheet for future reference. Sign up for their emails. To make it easy to organize the sites and give you a handle that is consistent create an email address just for this purpose.You might also want to investigate Google Reader and RSS feeds.
Now you have the coordinates of your tribe’s territory; it is up to you to track them down. Just like indigenous peoples untouched by outside society. It will take time for them to trust you. You need to maintain a non-threatening but yet engaging presence in the territory.
Read the Reviews on
iUniverse reviews says look for the reviewers with the most reviews and click their name, if it’s linked. Do they have an email or a blog? There is a high likelihood that if you read enough reviews by power reviewers, eventually you will start to recognize a few of the same names. This is good. You have identified more fellow tribesmen.