Retailer’s needs aren’t all that different from traditional publisher’s needs. Retailers rely on the author to have a platform and followers, or a tribe. What is a tribe? Seth Godin has written a powerful book about tribes and our affinity for them. These tribes define the way we think and interact, and more and more, how people buy. People want to connect so they join groups. You see this all the time with clubs, churches, charities, etc. A tribe is that group of people who are passionate about you. You belong on the same team. They are your blog followers. They are your workshop audience. They are your current readers. They are your Facebook and Twitter followers.
The power tribe: the power of 1000 true fans
According to a popular theory, a creator, such as an artist or author needs to acquire only 1,000 ‘true fans’ to make a living. A true fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive miles to see you sign a book or read a story. They will buy the box set even though they have individual books. They have a Google alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They are true fans.
How do you build a tribe?
First, you need to build your platform’s foundation. According to Brian Jud, author and consultant, a platform “is a series of career-long relationships with people who find it beneficial to communicate the word about your book, introduce you to influential people who can endorse your book, or get you on major media. As third-party references, these people give you more credibility among those in the larger segment of your platform. Platform building begins with cultivating relationships with a core selection of credible sources in at least five groups.
Good friends. They could be your classmates, fellow employees, relatives and neighbors. This is probably the weakest category in terms of their desire or ability to spread the word about your book.”
How can you find people who might promote your book?
- Centers of influence. Do you know people that can influence the purchasing decisions of large groups of your target readers?
- Professional associates. Are you writing to a specific group of people, and do you know people who have a following in that specific niche can spread the word among their constituents.
- People in your affinity groups. Find and participate in groups of people with similar interests or needs and who know you personally.
- Fans. These are people in your target audience who have read your previous material or have heard you speak on your topic. They believe that you know what you are talking about and are willing to put their reputations on the line by becoming your advocate.
- Network – you are only five people (six degrees of separation) away from just about anyone.
- Presentations in front of various groups/tribes
- Trade shows
- Social media
- Publicity (free advertising)
- Write articles – become known as a subject expert
Encouragement for the journey:
- Building a tribe takes time – you have to be persistent
- Building a tribe may mean being ‘different’. Sometimes it is a completely unique or non-conforming idea that people are attracted to. It could mean that you have to be a little weird.
- Building a tribe takes effective communication – you are writer after all. Communicate well.
- Building a tribe takes passion – be sold out about your topic/niche/story.
Authors, what did I miss? More on this topic next week.