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I've done everything, from building a nice website, being active on social media, posting my work on numerous websites, but I just cannot seem to get readers/followers. Any advice? Here's my website link if you want to check it out for yourself. https://klararaskaj.com/

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    "Status: In progress…" - it looks like you have started two books, but didn't finish any. Right? – Alexander Oct 15 '17 at 1:19
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    Yes, that is correct :). I've decided to serialize my novels, and post chapters periodically, chapter by chapter. – Klara Raškaj Oct 15 '17 at 6:59
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    Klara - does the website specifically mention you're writing in a serial format? I couldn't see anything like that. You might like to make something of this by having lines like "Chapter 4 - coming 20/10/17". – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Oct 15 '17 at 7:57
  • Oh! I haven't thought of that! That's a really good idea, thank you :D! – Klara Raškaj Oct 15 '17 at 7:59
  • In my experience finished work gets a lot more views than unfinished. On fanfiction websites, many readers look specifically for finished stories because it's just way too common for writers to abandon their stories halfway through and many readers don't want to commit to something that never gets finished (or wait an unreasonable time for another chapter). I think if you can prove that you can finish your books you're much more likely to gain followers. – B Altmann Oct 16 '17 at 19:19
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Write something that captures the imagination, from page 1.

First, +1 to DPT answers, those are practical.

This is like asking "How do I write a #1 book". There is a lot of advice out there on writing a #1 book, and much of it comes from #1 authors, but in the end their advice relies on a person being able to write with some imagination, skill and persistence.

Allow me to provide the logical analysis:

Publicity is a valuable thing. There is a limited amount to go around, even with the Internet, because each of us must make a choice of what to do with our few spare hours each day, and we don't want to spend much of it deciding what to do with it. Thus over 99% of ads are ignored (literally, studies have been done!) and people gravitate toward their trusted sources in considering any new source (a new author, new TV show, new game, etc).

The trusted sources are actual friends, facebook 'friends', celebrities and existing often used sources (ads on shows I watch, bloggers I follow, etc).

Consider a viral video on YouTube, something that makes most people literally laugh out loud. Every single one of these I have personally seen, I watched because a trusted source sent it to me, or one of the online authors I read posted a link in an article, and so on.

Publicity means the attention of the public.

The big problem is there are a hundred times as many people that want a few minutes of our attention than we have hours of attention to go around. I could literally spend every waking hour following ads offered to me and not get through a fraction of them.

The filtering machine we have evolved: Thus we all filter those demands on our attention, and it has to be in a way that excludes nearly all of them. Usually that means ignoring 99.5% of the direct pleas (unsolicited ads). So we investigate maybe 1 in 200 that we find has a compelling picture or headline (and if it doesn't start paying off damn fast, like 20 seconds, we abandon it and move on). Now if we do investigate and the random ad we followed did pay off with some visceral reaction (laugh, pity, righteous anger, heart warming, etc), then we have found a little treasure free to share with our friends (or fans, if a celebrity).

Which we do, we share it. If we have a reputation amongst our friends and fans as a reliable source of content that pays off, they are far, far more likely to check out the content, share it with their friends, and all that attention is publicity. For example, if Chris Rock tweeted his 2 million followers with a link to a YouTube video and nothing in text but 'LOL', after retweets it would get something like, oh, 1.2 billion hits. because Chris Rock is a trusted source for the 'LOL' comment, if HE says it is 'LOL' then it is worth me investing some attention to it.

In non-celebrity trust department, I have told various friends that a new show is worth watching, or a new author is worth reading, and vice-versa. They put in time to see, as I do when they recommend something. A few seconds of them telling me something in passing is more powerful than a thousand TV commercials.

Friend: Have you read anything by ZB?

Me: No, is he any good?

Friend: frikkin' awesome.

Me: What's it about?

Friend: I'm not telling, just read it.

Me: Okay [sold].

"I'm not telling you what this book is about, just buy it and read it." Would that ever work in a TV commercial? [No. The answer is no.]

The machine is very effective. A tiny bit of advertising does make it through. The average person (again, backed up by studies) can reach 150 other people.

(This is not a 'normal' statistical distribution, more of an exponential rising, with a significant number having a reach of less than 5, and in the highest echelon, a tiny percentage of celebrities able to reach tens of millions with a tweet or facebook post or article or mention on their TV show).

If more than about 1% of people would also pass it on, you have the "viral" effect, not necessarily to world-famous status, but a saturating effect: Meaning that everybody that should find it interesting does get exposed to it, through their network of trusted sources.

This is especially true if it makes its way into the trusted feed of a "hub" person that can reach thousands or millions. So how does Chris Rock find a video HE thinks is hilarious? Almost certainly because a personal friend sent it to him, or it was mentioned on a site he likes to visit. A trusted source.

Don't fight the machine. You might think of ways to hack at this, use deception to get attention and so on. But there is a more reliable way to just exploit the machine as it is. It is difficult, but the answer is to write something compelling. You can advertise it yourself with facebook ads, or submit it to an agent: It is their job, and they get paid, to find compelling content they can sell. They will also respond to their trusted sources, but as part of their job they read far more unsolicited offers than others, so you have a better chance of being heard if you give them what they expect in terms of query letter and such (part of what they expect is good writing in such letters.)

So I've gone a long way around the track to end up at what we already know: You get the publicity of Stephen King or JK Rowling by doing what they did. Write something compelling as an unknown, submit it to a professional that also finds it compelling and sells it to an audience that finds it compelling, and tells all their friends about it, until it saturates: It has reached everybody that will find it entertaining enough to be worth whatever time and money you are asking for it.

You have to start with the product. Learn to write content that appeals to at least four or five percent of average readers, AND ads that appeal to at least 1.5% of viewers, and if you have done that then with very small investments of money (on the order of $100) you can light a fire that brings them to your site.

Or send it to an agent that is interested in reading more.

  • Thank you so much for the detailed answer :) Sad but true. In today's world, it all boils down to word of mouth most of the time, I suppose. – Klara Raškaj Oct 16 '17 at 12:57
  • The good news takeaway from this is that you don't have to spend a fortune to make it big. A week of your normal pay can do it. Content is still king, and many of the blockbusters of today are by authors that scrabbled up from the same kind of obscurity as you find yourself in: Doing low paying grunt work jobs and writing, writing, writing in their spare time for years on end. Stephen King, JK Rowling, Dan Brown. It is word-of-mouth, but that is motivated by content that people want to share because sharing enjoyable experiences is part of the currency of friendship. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Oct 16 '17 at 13:13
  • My recollection about rowling is that she sold copies out of her car because she couldn't get picked up, yes? no? otherwise thank you I will tell my friends to read this! ;-) – DPT Oct 16 '17 at 14:08
  • @DPT perhaps true (about Rowling). The takeaway point is she began as a complete unknown and eventually it was content and artistry that won the day for her. And lets thousands of other writers make a comfortable living, too. If you think of selling books from a car as a job: then whatever she could have made working as a coffee shop waitress instead is about the value of the cash investment she made in marketing her book. So for those that expect no luck in selling books on some random street corner, investing a similar amount in Internet advertising would carry roughly an equal risk. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Oct 16 '17 at 17:11
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I was just at a talk on this. It was run by a publicist.

It was a useful talk, but also depressing. You could hire a publicist. She also said that entering contests is important, and creating media kits, and going through every hoop from a professional cover to reviews (she liked Kirkus). Not necessarily in that order though. Her services take clients and get them interviews, etc.

She made it sound like following the authors you like, and commenting smartly to them on FB, and then after a while asking them to look at your work, can help too.

  • Thank you for answering :). Sounds like it could work, but you're right, it is kinda depressing, heh. I guess I haven't tried entering contests and creating media kits yet. – Klara Raškaj Oct 15 '17 at 7:02
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People who are way more successful than I am tell me this:

Once you've published approximately ten books, your sales go way up. The reason is that you now have ten ways for people to discover you. And when someone likes one of your books, you now have nine ways for them to find other books they love from you, so they are more likely to become fans.

When you have fewer books, there are fewer ways for people discover you, and fewer ways for satisfied readers to become fans.

So their advice to me (and maybe to you?) is always the same: Publish more books.

  • Thank you :). I guess it makes sense, but I’m still having a real hard time believing it, to be honest. Just because you have a lot of content to offer does not have to mean it will be easier for people to find you. I could be wrong, though. – Klara Raškaj Oct 14 '17 at 22:37
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    I guess this advice less about how to get exposure, and more about how to amplify whatever exposure you get. – Dale Hartley Emery Oct 15 '17 at 0:04

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