Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Power of 25


In my last post entitled Cultivating Fans, I used author John Locke's example of starting with 25 fans you can count on for a sale and building from there.  In the post, I said my goal was to have 100 such fans or frans, as I call you guys because hopefully you're more than fans, you're friends.

Because of several RTs and a posting by good fran, Donna at Girl Who Reads, that post has received almost 300 views, which is a lot for me in a week.  Anyway, that post got me thinking about the power of 25.  Look at the Twitter word-of-mouth photo above. 

One person talking about your book can really multiply.  If you know me, you know I like putting my money where my mouth is.  So, I've come up with a great idea that I want to share with you.  I have decided to start a group.  Not so much a fan club as a fran club.  I am calling my new group The 25.  If you decide to latch onto this idea, terrific, but call your group something else.  Okay?

I want to prove the power of 25.  I want to identify 25 frans who will buy my books.  I no longer want to assume I have 25 people who will buy my books.  I want to know I have 25 people because they have joined the group and are committed.  I hope some of you reading this will become members of The 25.  Here's what I am asking of you.

* That you buy 1 ecopy of my latest book
* That you purchase that copy on the day I ask
* That if you enjoy the book you evangelise it to at least 1 person
* That you sign up for my newsletter (with exclusives just for The 25)
* That you spread kindness, without being asked, to other authors and bloggers

And that's it.  I ask 5 things of you.  Just five things.  My ebooks generally sell for between &2.99-$5.99.  I publish 1-2 books a year.  That's a yearly financial burden of $9 dollars for joining The 25.   If you all purchase my book on the same day (Nook or Kindle) my ranking will drop (That's a good thing).  If my ranking drops low enough I will make a list.  If I make a list others may see my book and want to buy it.  You see how this works?  There's power in numbers--even a number as low as 25.

When you tweet to me add the hashtag #twofive.  Why?  Because pretty soon others on Twitter are going to ask about the hashtag and we can direct them to this post.  And who knows, maybe others will join The 25.

Why comment?  Because as my friend Donna pointed out in a post last week, I want to start a dialogue, and I can't if you don't respond to my posts or tweets.  Don't just read them and enjoy or hate them.  Let's talk. We should feel like we're in this together, that 25 is just a number, but that we're larger than that.

Okay, so what's in it for you:

* If you're an author, I will buy your books.  If you're a blogger and you need me to participate in some other way, just let me know.  And if you're neither author nor blogger, you need to tell me what you'd like from me.  I hope it's not a pony.  I cannot accommodate that.

* I will follow you, and tweet you, and at times sing your praises.
* You will get exclusives on contests and free stuff
* You can become one of my trusted beta readers and get fee autographed copies of my books

* Most importantly, I will be there for you, just as you are there for me.

Anyway, that's my idea of how to build a following, a community.  My community is selfish.  It's built around me, my work and my goals.  I'm not trying to pull the wool over any one's eyes here by pretending this is for you. But you--everyone of you can do the same thing.  Start your own community around your own selfish desires, but make sure part of your mission is to help others in achieving their goals.  It's the easiest way to get people to help you.  And the bonus is: it makes you feel really good, trust me on that.

That's the idea.  if it works for you--steal it. If you'd like to join The 25, email me at  I do not plan to stop at 25 members. I'd love to get to 1000 or more. I won't be asking anything from you now, but like Vito Corleone in The Godfather, I will be calling upon you some time on the future for a... favor

And it would be nice if some of you left a comment here.  Even if you don't like what I'm saying here, comment anyway, and let me know. 

If you want to improve sales and get more dedicated viewers to your blog, start with 25 frans and build a community of frans online.  That's the way I see it.


** 1/2/15 I still need a few more beta readers for my latest work.  If you'd like to be a beta join The 25 now.

**10/24/14  Update.  Shortly, I will be looking for beta readers for my latest work.  If you'd like to be a beta, join The 25 now.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cultivating Fans

When I worked in television, I was fortunate enough to work on shows that had thousands, if not millions of fans.  As a writer/producer of The Cosby Show and Even Stevens, fan mail was routinely diverted to a department at Disney who dispersed it to cast members.  I don't know what they did with the mail that wasn't directed to specific cast members, but in my years at Disney, I saw very little fan mail.

Because of this, fans seemed to me to be "those" people.  The show's ratings told me they were out there and that they adored my work, but I had no direct contact with them.  Because they didn't feel real to me, I took them for granted. Believe it or not, many authors today have this same attitude, thinking that fans are "those" people.  People who adore us, but we don't have to do anything for their adoration. 

Coming out of the TV biz, I realized if I was going to be successful as an author, I had to change my attitude.  Fans aren't "those" people, fans are "us."  We're in this together.  I do my part by writing something you like.  You do your part by purchasing it.  And hopefully in between the writing and the purchasing, we develop a relationship and try to get to know one another a little bit.

John Locke, the indie author who became famous for selling 1 million ebooks in five months says: Develop a list of guaranteed buyers.  In his book, Locke says his ultimate goal is to have an email list of 10,000 guaranteed buyers, but he started out with a goal of 25.

I think this is a good place for any author to begin.  Find 25 fans that you can email with, tweet with, message with on Goodreads and chat with on Facebook.  These are the people you can count.  They're not exactly fans, though.  They're more than fans, they're friends, or as I like to call them-- frans.

Last week I received a Goodreads  message from a fran in Italy asking when the new Falling Angels Saga book was coming out.  I messaged her back, reminding her it was coming out in December but that I had a new series starting right now with The Zombie Always Knocks Twice.  She bought my new book, read it, and gave me my very first review.  I know for sure when Heaven Sent comes out in December, she'll be at the head of the line.

I chat with a handful of frans on Twitter on a regular basis.  I email with several more.  I wouldn't know any of these people if they hadn't found one of my books.  But now that I do know them, I try to be a friend to them.

Recently, a fran who wasn't a writer, became a writer and wrote her first book.  I bought her book just as she has bought mine.  The old TV me might have thought "ooh, isn't that cute, she wrote a book."  But me and my frans are in this together, which means we have to support one another.  By the way, if you're looking for an excellent dystopian romance with some terrific action and suspense, have I got a book for you:  Frozen Heart

Would I like to have 10,000 frans I can count on for a sale?  Of course I would.  But right now I'm concentrating on 100.  100 frans I can count on to buy my books.  If I'm going to reach this goal I have to do my part as well.  They need to know I'm rooting for them, too.  And the best part of it is... I am!!!

In the world of independent authors, the relationship between author and fan is no longer a one-way-street.  I think this is a good thing.  So if you want to become a Best Selling author (both Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel made Amazon's children's ebook Best Seller List) start by cultivating a relationship with 25 frans and build from there.

Hey, E. Van Lowe frans--Thanks for everything.  And if you're not a fran yet and would like to be one, write me and become one. There are no special requirements to be in my club.

*the photo at the top is Lauren, one of my first frans.  She was in high school back then, participating in my first photo contest.  Today she's a college student. Last year I paid Lauren to help develop my marketing plan.  We're in this together.