One of the most time consuming parts of marketing is finding readers and writers who will connect with your stories. It’s not enough to just know who they are. You also have to make a personal connection with them. It takes time and it takes effort. Hence, it’s one of the first projects to embark upon as you launch your marketing plan.

First, how to find your people? Surf the Internet. Use social media sites to find groups of readers and writers in your genre. Goodreads and Library Thing both have thousands of genre specific reader groups. Follow writers who write in genre and get involved in their fan communities. Join a professional writer’s organization like the Romance Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America, etc.

Some of these professional organizations require you to have published novels in the field and/or have made a minimum amount of money before you can join. However, many of them have some sort of associate membership, or at least an informational website with tons of information for unpublished authors.

Okay, so you’ve found a bunch of reader/writer/fan groups. It’s not enough to join up and lurk. The idea is to build your name recognition. To create real, personal connections with people who would be willing to give your book a try. Yes, you have to actually talk with people…or at least have typed conversations via the Internet. Often. And sincerely.

And yes, this is freakishly time consuming. Hence, my next piece of advice to set a schedule for yourself. Divide your working time between writing and marketing/social media, and make yourself stick to your allotted social time.

Because of the tendency of this phase of marketing to suck up both your time and your soul, I recommend you start this early and try to do a little of it every day. Better that than spending weeks or months around the clock trying to play catch up right before your book comes out.

Not only will this destroy your writing time, but it also comes across as FAKE when you suddenly get all friendly and chatty with total strangers moments before asking them to buy your book.

You have to build legitimate relationships, first. Then, and only then, can you solicit people to read your books.

I hear some of you introverts out there crawling under your rocks in horror at the notion of making hundreds or thousands of online friends.

If you really, truly, can’t abide being social with your fellow man, you need to consider pursuing other kinds of marketing. Don’t do social networking if you can’t do it cheerfully and honestly.

Which is to say, be yourself and be genuine on your social media. And give it time. I didn’t build my FB page overnight, nor did I build my substantial Twitter following overnight. I’ve spent the past year-and-a-half feeding both monsters daily content and actually interacting with thousands of people.

Follow the 90/10 rule. Give your followers and friends 90 percent content of interest to them and no more than 10 percent marketing of your books.

And remember, it’s better to have a few hundred genuine, legitimate fans and tens of thousands of followers who neither know you nor like you and who have no vested interest whatsoever in trying one of your books. Of course the best scenario is to have thousands of legitimate fans!

That rabid fan club starts with one person. And it builds one person at a time. Start now, work on it often for a little of time, and think of it as a long-term investment in your success.

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