Finding your audience doesn’t have to wait for your first novel to come out. Publicists have told me the promotion lifecycle starts months ahead. I started earlier. Years earlier.
The first big conference I attended was the California Crime Writers Conference in 2013. On the registration form, they asked for volunteers. I clicked “Yes” without hesitation. I didn’t have a clue what I’d be asked to do. I also didn’t have an agent at the time. What I did have was the first 50 pages of the first draft of my first cyber crime thriller. I also had many years’ worth of experience attending industry events and meetups for my day job and knew the content at conferences is only part of the draw. Networking is equally (perhaps more) important. I really didn’t care what would be asked of me as a volunteer at CCWC, I just cared that I would get to interact with published authors and agents. That was where I first learned that the crime fiction community is filled with incredibly supportive, kind, and funny people.
Over the next few years, I joined Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime, and attended more conferences and local events. At every opportunity, I raised my hand and continue to do so – volunteering for panels, giving interviews, and one-on-one consulting on technical topics for authors and screenwriters.
While I’ve been learning the craft of commercial writing, I’ve also been on a mission to build my brand. Without realizing it, I’ve built an audience. I know this because now I get requests in person and by email from readers asking to be added to my newsletter to be alerted the minute my short stories and books are available.
I’m currently scheduling appearances at several conferences this year – watch this space for updates. Meanwhile, I need to figure out this newsletter thing. I don’t have one yet. But guess what I say to people asking to subscribe?