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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Debut Author Tam Linsey-Building an Audience from Scratch; Finding Your Maven

Tam Linsey
Discoverability. That’s what debut authors are all about. Each reader who picks up my book has discovered me. If that reader likes my writing, they may tell a friend, who tells a friend, and so on. A slow buzz begins.

Then there are those few and precious readers who become ‘mavens’. A maven is someone who falls in love with a book and takes it upon him or herself to tell everyone they know about it. The buzz becomes a roar.

We all want a maven.

So how does one go about getting a book into potential maven hands? I’m still awaiting my book’s breakout, but I think the key is putting the book into as many hands as possible. That is why Amazon’s KDP Select program has been so successful; five free days not only boosts a book’s stats, but also opens the doors for potential mavens to try a debut author. However, I didn’t want to limit my distribution to Amazon (a requirement for using KDP Select.) What if my maven prefers to read on a Nook?

Instead, I’ve been using Goodreads. Like Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads is a social media site, but with a focus on books. Groups on Goodreads often have a Read to Review option, which allows me to target readers who like my genre, and to give them a free book in return for an honest review. Even if I don’t find a maven this way, the reviews have been great. The more reviews on a book, the more credible the book will seem to potential readers. Once the number of good reviews climbs high enough, Goodreads’ Recommendation Engine may take notice and begin suggesting the book to readers. A sort of electronic maven!
To put my book into reader hands, I’ve also participated in Goodreads Giveaways. Goodreads will advertise free copies of your paperback book to readers (you are responsible for providing the book and the postage) and people will a.) see your book and b.) put your book on their to-be-read shelf to remind themselves to read it, even if they don’t win. I’ve had readers contact me directly because they saw my Giveaway and became excited about the book.

A couple of my readers have already taken it upon themselves to help me promote. One is a fellow Alaskan and book review blogger, The Cabin Goddess, who is both amazing and hilarious. Another simply has a lot of friends on Goodreads. Will they be my mavens? I hope so. I’m still building my audience, and will be for a long time. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. If I’ve discovered anything, it is that the best thing I can do to sell books is to write another great book.


My mavens want more.
Tam Linsey lives in Alaska with her husband and two children. In spite of the rigors of the High North, she grows, hunts, or fishes for much of her family’s food. During the long Alaskan winters she writes novels. 

You can find her on Goodreads, on her author website at, or on Facebook or Twitter


Diana Mcc. said...

Hi, Tam,

What great ideas you have for recruiting "mavens"! Love your web site and the picture of you ice fishing. How do you do it having so many works in progress? Do you work on one for a certain length of time and then switch to another?

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Tam,

Wish there was a secret to finding one's maven! You look really bundled up but isn't ice fishing extremely cold? Of course that question comes from someone who thinks 30 degrees is Cold and below that is Bitter Cold - lol.

Sarah Raplee said...

I learned so much from this post, Tam! Thank you for Guesting with us.

Tam Linsey said...

Thanks for leaving comments, everyone.

Diana, I have several manuscripts listed on my website, but I only work on one manuscript at a time. I write the entire rough draft, which usually doesn't quite meet word my count goal, and then I let it sit. I find giving some time between drafts allows me to create a better story.

Judith, I guess cold is relative. My sister lives in Fairbanks, and they just had a few days of -50˚F. Now that's cold. This photo of me ice fishing was on a balmy day around 20˚F Plenty warm if you dress right!

Jennifer said...

Great insights, Tam! Thanks for sharing. Passionate fans are the absolute best way to help spread the word. I'd never heard the term "maven" in this context before, but it works perfectly. May many mavens be coming your way!

Maxine Mansfield said...

I love everything you write! and I totally agree about goodreads.. they rock!

Tam Linsey said...

Jennifer, to be honest, I heard the term on another blog. I'd never heard it used this way before either, but it really fit!

Maxine, hi! I think you are my number one fan! mwah!

Violetta Rand said...

Tam, its great to see your career as a writer taking off. Your creative voice is exciting and I always enjoy your work. I've recently connected with Goodreads and hope to utilize it more. Adding your book now!

Violetta Rand

Tam Linsey said...

Love seeing you here, Violetta. I'll be watching your career in the upcoming months as well!

Maggie Jaimeson said...

I am not familiar with the GoodReads Group Read for Review option. Can you talk a little more about this and how one finds it to offer their books for review? Also, do they only take print books or will some reviewers take ebooks? Though I have both, it gets expensive to be sending out lots and lots of print books.

Paty Jager said...

I'm with Maggie, I'd like to hear a little more about the Group Read option.

Tam I have two kids in Alaska. Our son is in the Air Force in Anchorage and our daughter is married to a Coastie in Kodiak.

Sounds like you are doing a great job promoting your book!

Tam Linsey said...

Read to Review (R2R) is something a few of the Goodreads groups I belong to offer. Find a genre you like to read (and write) and then check out their discussion board to see if R2R is something they do. For instance, Lovers of Paranormal R2R discussion is here They accept ebooks as free copies. (There is no way I could have afforded mailing out that many paperbacks!) Each group has their own rules about how they handle R2R, so read carefully. And make sure you participate as a group member and reader, not just an author. Best of luck!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Hi Tam great ideas here. There's more than one path to publishing success, and your mavens should be a good one!

Tam Linsey said...

Most definitely, there are many paths. Other authors may not have the same results I have had.

But one thing I do love to say is, "I LOVE MY READERS!" Because i actually have readers. My dream come true. :)

LizbethSelvig said...

I'm a day late to this "maven fest" but what a wonderful post. I, too, love Goodreads but have yet to use it to its full potential. You've inspired me! You also inspire me with your writing--You have such a unique voice that grabs readers and won't let go. Which, by the way, is why you HAVE readers! Here's to millions more!

Tam Linsey said...

Never too late, Liz! Thank you for your kind words.

Boone Brux said...

Love the ice fishing picture of you Tam. You're a hardy Alaska gal for sure and seem to have a bead on what it takes to build an audience. First is writing a good book, which you have done! Can't wait for more of this world.

Jae Awkins said...

Interesting, Tam. I look forward to your next book - loved BOTANICAUST! :o)

Tam Linsey said...

Boone, I do what I have to do - lol! But I sure wouldn't mind a two month vacation somewhere warm every year.

Jae, Thanks for the encouragement. I'm writing, writing, writing!

Laura Hill said...

Hi Tam, Nice article. I found my maven at the library where my book was displayed because I am a local author. The library created a great buzz, my friends recommended my work and a year later there is still high circulation.

Tam Linsey said...

Wow, Laura - that is awesome! I've been dilly-dallying getting a copy of Botanicaust to my local library, but forget to bring a book every time I go into town. I'll need to make a point of it.