Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
For decades, the gatekeepers to reach large audiences of book consumers have been retailers, publishers, libraries and national media outlets. These organizations hold the keys to reaching millions of readers. But access to their audiences is limited unless one purchases paid advertising, hires a publicity firm or undertakes an expensive, time-consuming tour of the country. For the most part, authors who want to reach the masses have been at the mercy of these options. Until now.
Today, many authors are building audiences so large that they have actually become the new gatekeepers. For example, consider the audience size of these three New York Times bestselling authors:
Author/Organization: Email Subscribers:
Lisa Lillien / Hungry Girl 1,200,000
Lysa TerKeurst / Proverbs 31 500,000
Ruth Soukup / Living Well, Spending Less 130,000
(Note that I chose to display each author’s email subscriber lists rather than their website stats or social media figures. Their numbers in those categories are certainly substantial, but research has shown email to be 40 times more effective than social media at acquiring new customers.)
As these authors built huge audiences over time, they made it much easier to sell thousands of their books. But more importantly, they began to attract attention from other entities seeking access to their audience. That interest has created exciting new revenue opportunities for the authors through paid advertising, joint partnerships, corporate spokesperson roles, etc.
In an ironic reversal of roles, authors who had to pay companies for advertising now charge companies to advertise products to their audience. The authors listed above routinely receive thousands of dollars for individual ad space. This growing trend represents one of the most exciting times in literary history to be an author.
If you’re an author, how can you capitalize on this opportunity?
1. Focus on building your own audience. Your writing career will feel much more stable when you own the numbers rather than rely on someone else to bring the numbers to you.
2. Place special priority on growing your email subscriber list. Facebook is constantly changing the rules, while your email list is the one audience component that you can completely control.
3. Success breeds success. I’ve consulted with numerous A-level authors, and I always tell them, “Success is the key that unlocks bigger doors.” Below are examples of what I mean:
• Offer paid advertising and attract like-minded companies and sponsors.
• Make yourself available as a paid corporate spokesperson.
• Start your own national radio program, TV show, podcast or YouTube channel.
• Host your own live events that attract thousands of attendees.
• Create inner-circle groups where people pay premium fees for exclusive access.
The digital revolution has made today an exciting time to be an author, especially if you learn how to build a sizeable audience. Why rely on the old gatekeepers to reach readers when you yourself can be the gatekeeper?
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