5 Steps to Finding a Community for Your Book


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“People are very convenience-motivated,” says, Jeff Bezos in the CNBC article How Amazon founder Jeff Bezos went from the son of a teen mom to the world’s richest person.

I agree. We want someone to make and serve up something to us even before we know we want it.

Just the other day, I was wondering how to get a server that’s cheap and easy to configure. I don’t want to worry about a platform like Myspace deleting all the blog postings.

Oh! I have a Google alert set for African-AMerican philosophers.

Or, how about a catalog of business books written by African-American authors?

Bottom line: I need a personal shopper who will cater to my consumer whims minus unsolicited pitches. Junk mail is annoying because the proprietor sends me what s/he has to offer which may not have anything to do with my desires or expectation.

I gravitate to sellers who take the time to know what I like and offer a curated selection.

Bezos intuited that we have thousands of thoughts like this in a day. He built an online business to offer whatever comes to mind.

To avoid customer decision-making overload, he partnered with thousands of other website owners, through the Amazon affiliates program, who offer curated content to their specific communities.

In short, all roads on the internet superhighway lead to Amazon.

All of this is common knowledge but what I found intriguing is Bezos says, in the article, he’s not afraid to be wrong.

You can’t beat a fearless man.

There’s a saying,

“If you can’t beat them join them.”

The quote, in this context, doesn’t mean work with or for Amazon. Or sell your books on the website. It means to emulate and partner with the competition.

And from Bezos own words, he runs a customer-centric business.  Everything Amazon does serve the whims of the customer.

Amazon has access to every book in print. If it’s not in the warehouse, they will print-on-demand and send it to you and waive the shipping and handling fee.  If they can’t print it, they’ll send a digital version to your Kindle (if you own one) or your PC. It will be lickety-split at a price that’s easy on the wallet.

We, the independent publishers, self-published authors, etc., can’t compete with that part of the model. We can adapt the customer-centric strategy for our readers.

Here’s how.

Bezos sells more than books now. The Motley Fool, the investment website, reports retail is not even the driver of income. It’s AWS cloud computing platform. Still, Bezos’ goal was to host an Everything store.

If you sell everything, everyone is a customer.

Unlike Amazon, independent publishers, self-published authors, and independent booksellers don’t have that luxury to peddle to everyone.

And it’s that barrier to entry that creates an opportunity.

Case-in-point, another quote from the 2005 film Out of the Woods hints at the customer-centric model.

“If I treat everyone the same, I treat no one special.”

Since Amazon is selling everything to everyone everywhere, independent publishers and self-published authors can differentiate by catering to specific readers.

Consider this perspective.

Capitalism brokers in two things: space and time.

Successful business owners determine a way to save time for others while offering temporary space to earn money.

Therefore, independent booksellers have just enough space to supply what readers want on demand. In a brick and mortar bookstore that premium space usually goes to bestsellers.

So, how can we, the self-published author and independent publisher whose books are not high-demand sell our books?

The answer: A reader-centric strategy may lie in our ability to produce curated commerce and content for special-interest communities.

Instead of selling everything to everyone, independent publishers, self-published authors, and small press owners must build a curated world around our specific readers.    But first, we must identify our readers.

For example, those who read and favorably reviewed my debut novel shared a common characteristic: cosmopolitan.

Cosmopolites make the world their home. You’ll find them where there is new and novel experience and an opportunity to learn.

Their overarching goal is cross-cultural awareness for mutual respect.

My cosmopolitan readers were jet-setters, globetrotters, road warriors and some allowed literature to be their travel guide.

rated by customers interested in SPORTS

BUT there was a twist I almost missed. Amazon’s “rated by customers interested in” new feature indicated readers who gave my book 3 or more stars were also interested in sports.

Identifying with my readers helped me learn the cosmopolitan community already exist. Instead of building a community from scratch, I focused on meeting and exceeding the members’ expectations to connect with them.

With a customer-(reader)-centric strategy, I’m not selling my books or forcing traffic to my website. I’m providing a space for cosmopolites to gather, locate, consume and share their highest ideals.

My books, books with similar content,  my reviews and other items of interest provide awareness to give my readers a jump start on the cultural learning curve.

Using the steps below will help determine if a community already exists for your books.

Five steps to finding a community for your books.

  1. Who are your readers? What do they have in common? Think about the readers you know such as family and friends who like your book.
  2. What is their main characteristic (behavioral)? Not to be confused with a trait (genetics).
  3. How does this characteristic translate into a life mission? How do they see themselves? What do they want others to know about them?
  4. Where can you find your readers? Where do they congregate for stimulation? Do they use social networks, workgroups platforms, meetups, social causes, or specialized forums?
  5. When can you get their attention? When are they receptive to messages? Do they respond to pop culture, media or sports memes and references?

The next step is to identify the community’s mission and help them achieve it.

If Bezos is correct and people are convenience-motivated, build a world around your reader community that helps them get what they want.

Don’t be surprised when you get what you want too.