Author’s Corner: The Power of Earned Media

The Power of Earned Media

So, you’ve just written and indie-published your book. Now all you have to do is find fans, right? You’re probably going to be disappointed in what I say next, because I’m not going to offer a magic way to get a ton more readers.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Anyone who tells you different is either trying to sell you something, or scamming you. Readers are only gained a few at a time, even if you experience a sudden and serendipitous burst of exposure. I know this.

I’ve written and published seven books. I’ve won multiple awards for them. Local media (newspaper & TV) have interviewed me. I even got a particularly nice Kirkus Review. It sounds like I’m doing all right. However, are people everywhere falling all over themselves to send me money for my books?

In a word … no.

There are not enough people who know my name.

Author R.L. Herron

Author R.L. Herron

Long-Term Strategy

Unless you’re Stephen King, whose name is familiar enough he could probably sell his weekly grocery list, finding readers takes time. Name recognition is seldom an overnight thing. Gathering fans is long-term strategy.

Ask yourself the last time an ad persuaded you to buy and read a book. Now ask yourself the last time you got a book recommendation from someone you know.

Easy answer, isn’t it?

Most people get book suggestions they believe from friends and family. A writer has to be good enough at his craft for his books to move readers to feel something they want others to feel.

If you write well enough to do that, then … and this is important … you need to take your book(s) public. There are many groups looking for speakers. Check out your local Humanities Councils; Arts Councils; Book Clubs; Libraries; Schools. By actively extending your craft as a speaker, you deepen the emotional connection with readers.

In addition, you have a captive audience at each venue and several minutes to do nothing but sell your books. The people who hear you speak (assuming you don’t bore them silly) will talk about you to their friends.

Earned Media at its Best.

Earned media is essentially word-of-mouth. Social networks are also important, of course. Some folks would have you believe there is magic in the latest big online thing. While that may, or may not, be true, you need to understand there are also folks out there looking for people who want to believe in that magic.


Because they know a ton of wanna-be writers, in their search for that magic, will buy bogus quick-fix solutions all day long. But let me tell you how I feel about that.

There is no Easy Button.

Social Networks

Social networks are only part of the answer. Online social networks are networks of people. Being social. Online.

That’s it.

Yes, you should use Twitter and have a presence on the other social networks, but don’t depend on them. I have 23,000 Twitter followers, but if Twitter vanishes tomorrow, the sky won’t fall. I’ll keep on telling stories, just as storytellers have been doing forever, and simply find another way to connect with people who might like my work.

Use social media to be social and remember, you will grow your truest fan base by staying authentic. Oh yes … and by writing good books.

Next: Branding for the indie-author

About R.L. Herron

R.L. Herron, the author of multiple works of fiction, including several Readers' Favorite medal winners, lives and writes in Michigan with his lovely wife, and a finally-paid mortgage. His books are all available on Amazon and online with Barnes & Noble. Visit Author R.L. Herron's Website, Broken Glass.

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