Think about it.
What is it that you love about your favorite books?
In my opinion, it boils down to two things: World and Characters.
Many times we fall in love, we obsess over fiction because the world draws us in and the characters seem real as they stroll across the page. We walk the alleys of Ketterdam as we silently cheer on Kaz Brekker’s nefarious acts. Or, we cry for Aelin Galathinyus when Queen Maeve locks her in a FREAKING IRON COFFIN and carts her away from the cadre.
See, what happened there. I fell for these stories. Hard.
There is a meme out there, an image of several doors. Each door is themed after a different set of beloved fantasy stories. At the top of the image a question catches your attention.
Which would you choose?
Of course, hands down I am going to choose Hogwarts every freaking time. Rowling has crafted a wonderfully layered magical world that resides right along side our own, but bears a richness that could stand on its own. I would even go to the Night Circus for a night or two, indulge on chocolate mice and explore the varied tents.
By devoting time and energy into making the world of your novel a place that is nearly alive on the page you are doing yourself a favor. It might not be the kind of world that you want to visit. That’s okay. No one wants to go to the world of Hunger Games and we don’t blame them.
But the world stands out, vibrant and real in your mind. Doesn’t it? This is achieved not only through mapping out every detail of your world, but by honing your skill on the page. It’s in the way you describe the skyline, the smell of the streets, the magic in the air. When world building and the craft of writing come together, then the world comes alive.
Check out my Worldbuilding post for further help on creating the bones of your world.
Check out some books here that will help you hone your craft.
We love Sarah J Maas because we cannot help but love the characters in her stories. We love the self-sacrificing Aelin who loves chocolate cake. We love troubled, yet determined Feyre and the secret bleeding heart that is Rhysand. We even love a character that has maybe four pages between two books, the Suriel.
These characters have a depth of emotion that bring them to life. These aren’t just characters being pushed along by a series of events orchestrated by an author. They have pasts, futures, desires, dreams, and so much more. Giving depth to a character, especially an entire cast of characters, makes a book seem like a group of best friends. It helps readers make connections and those connections make the reader fear for the characters, cheer them on, or loathe them so much they have to shout it from the roof tops.
Go to my Character Creation post for more!
All in all, the formula to create a fandom worthy story lies in the depth of world building and character creation. The next step, after you have put all of that onto the page is finding your fandom. It’s doesn’t happen over night, but it’s also not that hard!
No matter how you decide to publish, you’re going to have to learn to market your own work. Don’t worry. It’s not that hard.
Towards the end of the writing phase, reach out to a handful of people. Ask if they’d be interested in reading your book before everyone else has a chance. In return, they tell you what they think is good and bad about your story before it hits the shelves, real or digital. These people are called Beta Readers. Not only are they fresh eyes on a manuscript you might be sick of looking at, but they are also the first wave of reviewers for your book.
Having those killer reviews out there makes your book look even more enticing. Readers are more likely to trust other readers opinion of your work than they are yours. Of course you love your book! But, when your betas are gushing about your world or your characters, then it sparks the interest.
After that, choose your path. Self-pub or traditional. Look up the pros and cons of both as the market has changed a lot and is still growing. Once the manuscript is turned into a book then you can hit the internet. Host online launch parties, use your social media like Facebook, Youtube, or even Twitch. Be present online so that people see you and your work. I love Instagram and its huge reader base. Search your hashtags and strike up conversations on similar posts. This may lead to a reader moseying over to your profile and to your book.
Organize a blog tour with similar authors. By posting interviews, guest posts, and the such on the blogs of other authors you’re effectively reaching their fan base. The people who loved their book will love yours too if you choose the right author to partner with. With any luck, those fans will head over to your blog and sign up for your mailing list!
Get out in the public. Go to your local bookstores and libraries. Many of them are willing to host free events like book signings and meet and greets. They love to support you. At the same time, you’re getting closer to some of your fan base. You’re presenting your book to new fans.
Marketing may feel like a lot of work, but it’s mostly making connections. You’re meeting other authors, bookstore owners, librarians, and fans. These are the people who will promote your book when you aren’t there to speak for it. They’re the first wave of fans in your new fandom.
I may have blubbered for a little bit, but hopefully you got something out of that. At the end of the day, when working towards the next best fandom, remember to create a believable world, lovable characters, and get the story into the hands of your readers.