Last month I talked about Street Teams and well, how mine didn’t actually go so great. This month I want to talk about Fan Clubs and how I prefer this to what I was doing before.
So, what’s the difference between a Street Team and a Fan Club? Well, for me, I thought of a street team as a group of people who could help me promote my work. Like my own little set of minions, they would do things for me and I would reward them with free eBooks and the odd surprise gift. When this didn’t work out, I wanted to try something completely different. I took the advice of a few successful author friends of mine and started up the Melissa Pearl Fan Club.
I LOVE my fan club. I am having SO much fun. The biggest difference to start with is that I have absolutely no expectation. Sure, I ask my members to share stuff for me when I have a cover reveal or new release, but none of them feel obligated to. Members participate as much or as little as they like and everyone’s okay with it, because the fan club is not about promoting Melissa Pearl, it’s about hanging out with Melissa Pearl, talking about her books and generally celebrating a common love for books, movies and music.
I post in there about four times a week and include things like…
- How’s your week going?
- Have you seen any good movies lately?
- What are you reading right now?
Just general chit-chat to make them feel valued and important, because they are.
I also include at least two posts a week about my work – a teaser from my first draft, a question about one of my characters, letting them know when I’m running a special or giveaway or what’s coming up in the next week or so.
In the last couple of months, I’ve stepped it up a notch and started posting things in there that are exclusively for my fan club. In my Masks series, two of my favorite characters get engaged. Because they are background characters, we never get to see their wedding as it just didn’t fit into the story. So, I decided to let my fan club plan the wedding: posting dress designs, cake ideas, floral arrangements, and more. I used all their concepts and included them in a short story which I posted just for them.
A few weeks ago, while I was working on my new WIP, I wanted some ideas on what a particular character looked like. I had an image in mind of the kind of actor I wanted, but he turned out to be too old. So, I asked my fan club to find me someone younger. Off they went, hunting for me, and they posted tons of photos of different actors and models who fit my description. It was a very handsome thread, I can tell you that! It was a very fun day.
My fan club always gets my news first – cover reveals, release news, opportunities to sign up and review my books. But again, with no expectations: they are not hankering for freebies or act like I owe them something. That’s a really nice feeling.
My fan club is just hitting sixty members, but I’m not planning on capping it anytime soon. I’m happy for it to grow as big as it needs to be. Obviously some members are far more active than others. I write in a variety of genres and it’s interesting to see who pops out of the woodwork depending on which book I’m discussing.
As you can probably tell, I am a very big fan of my lovely little club. Getting to know the members has been a huge privilege and a big encouragement to me. Fans are cool and we need to look after them. I read a blog post once by J. A. Huss, and she talked about writing for your fans and making sure that you are catering to them, because they’re your people and the ones you should be focusing on. I really took that onboard and even though my club is small right now, it will grow and so will my business. All good things take time, right? And the people involved in this little club of mine will probably be the ones to stay with me for a long time to come.