Social media is an essential part of brand building and marketing for business these days. That comes without saying, right? However, it requires time and energy to create the kind of content that will increase your following and keep fans coming back for more. In the oversaturated space that is social media today, this is not always an easy feat.
One great way to develop and keep control of your business (or personal brand) is by publishing a book and providing online content and off-line experiences that work with it.
Here are my top tips for writing your book, getting it published, and monetising your online fans with this approach.
1) Write with authenticity
Publishing a book gives you the opportunity to control the narrative so you can keep your work true to who you are. However, you’ll need a publisher who shares your vision or publish the book yourself.
Finding a publisher isn’t easy. You’ve probably developed your following by offering something that mainstream popular culture has missed.
Traditional publishing is designed to maximise the chances of producing bestsellers, which means they try to emulate something that’s already been done.
It breeds conformity, which is not usually suited to the creative spirit we find online.
Publishing the book yourself may be the best route. It takes time to tout your book around the publishers; time you may feel could be better spent doing it yourself and keeping control of your work. However, publishing a book can be expensive.
2) Crowdfund your book
One solution is to crowdfund your book. You can keep control, produce something you care about, and appeal to your followers.
Traditional publishing is limited by public expectation of what a book should cost (typically up to £10 for a paperback and £20 for a hardback). However, by crowdfunding your book, you can sell additional experiences and merchandise around it. For example, video games influencer, Dan Hardcastle, raised over £300k for his book, Fuck Yeah, Video Games, on Unbound.
80 per cent of the money he raised came from non-traditional book sales, unique experiences and greater access to Dan such as signed copies, exclusive illustrations and personalised videos.
3) What do your fans want to read?
What should your book be about? Be as authentic to yourself and your audience as you can. Don’t write what you think someone else wants to read. Or even what you think will sell.
Write the book you care most about and tell your audience what that is. They will back you if they believe this is core to who you are.
At Unbound, we’ve developed a machine learning algorithm that helps us to predict, with a high degree of accuracy, how much a book is likely to raise before an author crowdfunds it. By using data such as the size of the author’s following and the topic of the book, we can predict with around 80 per cent accuracy precisely how much a book will raise within 90 days of accepting pledges / pre-orders.
However, you don’t need to have a degree in data science to decide what to write about. You’ve got plenty of followers, so run a poll. Crowdsource your book idea and they’re more likely to buy it.
4) Create imaginative offers
When offering rewards to followers: the more creative the offering, the greater the value. And make sure what you offer is authentic to who you are and what you do.
Popular YouTube comedian, Stuart Ashen offered a ‘box of mystery tat’ during his crowdfunding campaign for his book Attack of the Flickering Skeletons. Three boxes of junk sold at £250 each. It wasn’t really ‘junk’, each was a hilarious collection of unique things Stuart’s fans would value and they trusted him to deliver something extraordinary.
5) Engage your superfans
You’re bound to have a few superfans who’ll pay a significant premium for exclusive access to you or your ideas. And the digital economy has created many opportunities for authors to engage with their most passionate fans.
Dan Hardcastle created a reward level at £2,500 for Fuck Yeah, Video Games, which allowed a supporter to choose the video game for an entire chapter of his book. In some respects it didn’t matter if someone bought it. It demonstrated his accessibility and creativity and grabbed the attention of his followers. However, it did work. He sold out this reward level.
You’d have to sell 312 traditional paperbacks to match this one purchase from a superfan.
The other great thing about superfans is that there’s a direct correlation between the quality and passion of an influencer’s audience and the amount of money they’re likely to be able to raise from them. What can you offer your followers that’s unique to you?
Write your book based on your expertise and passion. And tap into your followers’ interests. The opportunity is there for you to seize!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dan Kieran is the Co-Founder and CEO of Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher that combines data science and an award-winning publishing brand with an online marketplace. Readers pre-order books through pledging, Unbound publishes and sells them, giving authors a 50/50 profit split and access to an engaged community.