Think outside the book.
Once upon a time, books were weighty things made of paper, and the only path from aspiring writer to author-with-an-audience went through one of the major publishing houses.
Today, the publishing world is bigger and more diversified than ever before in its output, with e-books and audio books starting to eclipse the traditional print model. At the same time, publishing has also become far more competitive.
Getting a shot at a book deal – or even representation with an agent – requires building an audience beforehand and demonstrating knowledge of your market. Sound dismaying? Fret not! What seems like extra work is really an opportunity in disguise.
When you start from a mindset of connecting with readers rather than inking a deal, you come back to the reasons that prompted you to write your story in the first place: to share something of your own life experience, and the lessons you learned the hard way. That points you to your audience. Who needs to hear what you have to say, and how would it make their life better? (You don’t need to “fix” things for people, by the way – it can be as simple as providing a new perspective on their problems.)
Now that you know who you’re addressing, consider how best to reach that particular group of readers. Where do they gather, both online and in the real world? And how can you craft a memorable experience for them there, which turns them into your fans and followers? Here are five different formats tailored to different audiences.
If your story:
1. Skews funny or dramatic: It could be material for competitive storytelling or spoken word events.
2. Involves a health or weight issue: Consider turning it into a blog that includes recipes and exercise regimens along with your personal narrative.
3. Centers on a hard-won achievement: It could be the stuff of a TED-style talk or a presentation at a conference.
4. Gave you a special set of skills: Blend it into a how-to guide, or teach it as a workshop.
5. Consists of distinct episodes: Turn those individual stories into “Twitterature” or serialize them as a podcast or graphic novel.
And who knows? Doing one or more of these things wouldn’t only lead you to your readers – you might just land a book deal into the bargain.