Readers, Fans, and Evangelists

Authors talk and think all the time about who is reading their books, but how often do you think about who talks about your book and who gets others to read it?

Gaining readers is only the first step of building an audience. A reader is merely someone who read your book whether they loved it, hated it, or were indifferent. If all you’re building is readers, you’re doing all the work yourself, one reader at a time. You can have success this way, but you can have more success paying attention to the other types of people you’re looking for.

Fans are people who love your book and talk about it. Evangelists are people who get others to buy it. Building up these segments of your audience is far more important than building readers alone. These people will be the army you need to grow your brand.

So how do you build fans and evangelists?

• The first step is to provide a place for fans to gather. If you don’t have a blog, start one. If you don’t know what one is, you’re reading one. If you’re a Tate author, and we created your website, you already have one. The internet has no lack of articles to learn how to blog well, but here is a good place to start.

• Use your website and/or blog to let people know more about you and your message. If you’re a fiction author, you can write short stories or back stories about the characters in your book and post them here. Do whatever you can think of to give more to people who want more. Think about the things you like to read about famous people you admire and provide these things.

• Encourage anyone who comes to the site to post comments and questions, and respond to them. Readers think every author is famous, and the more they like your book, the giddier they’ll get about hearing from you. When they’re excited about hearing from you, they’ll tell all their friends that an author replied to their comment. They may post a link to your blog or website or facebook or on their own blog. You can encourage this by giving blanket permission to repost your posts if they give you credit, like I did with the tips on blogging from Ford Saeks. (If you haven’t clicked that link yet, it’s right here.)

• Wherever you go to speak or sign books, tell people about your blog and/or website, and encourage them to connect with you there. If you use projection slides with your presentation, put your blog or weblink on the last slide, and make sure it stays onscreen while you are taking questions from the audience.

• Always, always, always ask people to tell others. Obviously, I’m not talking about accosting strangers and asking them to tell people about your book. That would be creepy. However, whenever someone says something nice about your book, your knee-jerk response should be, “Thank you so much. Please tell everyone you know about the book. We’re trying to build an audience!” (Saying “we” is always better than “I”. It connotes a team, and people like teams.)

• This is particularly true when people ask you when your next book is coming out. It is not uncommon for new authors to have 5 or 6 people ask this question and then try to put pressure on me to make their 2nd book happen. I can’t go to our acquisitions editors and say, “6 people have asked when the next book is coming out.” Their first question will be, “How many books have they sold?” If someone asks you when your next book is coming out, say, “As soon as we sell enough copies of the first one, so tell all your friends to buy it.” Some people will. Those are your evangelists.

• Reward your fans and evangelists in ways that are small to you but big to them. This could be anything from sending them a handful of bookmarks to naming a character after them in your next book. Some authors even use their blogs to workshop their future books. They share ideas on setting and plot points on their blog and work the feedback they like best into their writing. Be creative.

The crazy thing is that fans and evangelists don’t even have to be readers, necessarily. I’m a fan of Craig Groeschel, pastor of I interviewed him (skeptically, I might add) when I was the editor of a magazine that showed how churches use technology in worship. The more I heard his heart and his passion repeated through my interviews with the rest of his staff, the more I came to appreciate him. I’ve never read his book Chazown (that’s the Hebrew word for “vision”), but I like it because I’ve seen his God-given vision in action.

Even stranger, I’m an evangelist for Bill Hybels, another author who is pastor of Willow Creek Church. When I was 17, my dad gave me one of his books, and for over 25 years now, I’ve called it “the best book I’ve never read.” The book is called Who You Are When No One Is Looking. The title alone convicted me and changed the way I look at the world. It has shaped my character again and again over the past 25+ years, and I’ve told many, many people to buy the book. If you’ve never considered this issue or known who you should be when no one is looking, go buy the book and read it.

If you’ve done anything at all to build your audience, you have some fans and evangelists. Connect to them and watch how much faster your audience grows.

Comment below: What are some of the ways you’ve created fans and evangelists?



Filed under Blogging, Reputation building

9 responses to “Readers, Fans, and Evangelists

  1. Gale Lee

    Great advice I will put to use!

  2. I have given bookmarks as gifts… also gave seniors in the church I grew up in free copies…a lot are struggling and I know their words will go farther than the wallet for they have family. So I already started evangelisizing before I read this…this is confirmation that I am on the right path. I also have connected with a well know DJ in NJ who has a writer’s blog and is getting ready to interview me for a spot on his radio time for minimal fee which he is working with me…and has already started advertising for my book. So little by little I know the first few months we just do not know what to expect but so far I am sincerely enjoying the ride and all the support of the Tate Family. God bless.

    Licia Gregory
    Author of My Favorite Girl

    • You’re are indeed on the right track, Licia. Thank you for sharing some of your specific ideas. Bookmarks are great gifts, especially if they are the ones with your book information on them. You can get those laminated at a copy shop or office store, and they last longer. Your evangelists will appreciate that.

  3. Becoming a Woman of Purpose
    Bookmarks have been something that people really enjoy and it directs them to my web site. Attending local networking events and giving one of my books to be used as a door prize seems to be very well received. It creates conversation about the book as it is being given out and a lot of conversation at the winners table. Social media provided an opportunity to reach a large audience on a regular basis so that too has been one of my consistant outreaches where I can ask for support in sharing my stories with others.

  4. themistyneighborhood

    My book became a reality from the positive feedback I was given by the fans of my Facebook community page Misty-the-Dog and Friends. I am a senior lady who began posting stories told from my dog’s point of view. Fans began telling me to send a collection of the stories to a publisher. I did. I was accepted by Tate Publishing. The result is The Misadventure of Millie. When I began going through the publishing process, I took my fans with me every step of the way. I made them aware of each phase. I made them a part of the process. They appreciate being included in what all of us at Misty-the-Dog and Friends refer to as ‘our book.’ My Facebook family is buying copies of ‘our book’ in multiple copies, and it hasn’t even been released to the public yet. The release day isn’t until May 29th. When I began posting the stories, I had 600 fans. Today, my dog Millie and I have 5,444 loyal fans, and new fans are always coming. The key for me has been to make our fans and followers feel as if they are a part of the entire process. My dog Millie is a Facebook icon. Social networking is a wonderful outlet for creative people. I’m living proof of that.

    • I just love this Reply by themistyneighborhood, as I have inquired of several Linkedin Groups as to what exactly to do with almost 8,000 FB, YT, and Twitter fans! How did I get so many fans? Well, I sustained a brain injury, dysautonomia, vertebral artery dissection, etc in a car accident, so no, I would not recommend that avenue of gaining fans! But I love love keeping myself transparent to my fans, and this is what they have come to anticipate. Soooo, how do I get them to buy copies of ‘our book’ if it is not released to the public? The book should be out in December… I am thinking we could perhaps offer a PROMO Code for a group discount, and do a Calendar count-down to Launch Date…..what do you think? Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Growing Beyond Your Local Area | After the Ink Dries

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