how to build a readership
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How to Build Your Tribe

Before writing another word, I have two questions:

  1. What authors do you follow?
  2. Why?

If you’d like to stop for five minutes and make a list of your answers, go ahead because this is important stuff.

I’ll give you a few of my own just to get things going:

Novels of Doug Preston and Lincoln Child: Because their Agent Pendergast is the quirkiest, most unpredictable and brilliant character I’ve ever read. I just purchased their Pendergast book #14. Can’t wait to dig in.  What I get: Entertainment.

Chris Brogan‘s Newsletter: Because he shares personal experiences that inspire me. He writes about marketing in a way that I find palatable. Bottom line: He’s genuine. What I get: Inspiration.

Writer’s Digest Newsletter: Because it helps me keep up on events and issues in my industry. What I get: Education.

Have you finished your list? Good, now let’s look at:

What You Want to Give

Whether you read my books or my blog posts, I hope you get one or both of these:

  1.  Education
  2. Inspiration

Education: I’ve been a full-time freelancer for more than 20 years, with experience in many fields. I want to help other authors who aren’t quite sure how to reach their writing goals.

Inspiration: I know what it’s like to hear one “no” after another. I refuse to give up and I want to inspire you to do the same.

If I could write fiction, my third goal would be to entertain. Sadly, I haven’t reached that level of craft!

So tell me now, what’s on your list?

You Are Your Tribe

This brief exercise clarifies two things:

  1.  What you’re looking for as a reader
  2. What you want to give as a writer

My belief (and you are free to disagree with me!) is that a great deal of what you want as a reader is much the same as what you want to give as a writer.  I believe we seek out that which we, too, want to offer.

That means you already have great role models.

For me: Every time I read Chris Brogan’s newsletters I’m inspired to be a far better newsletter writer. Chris inspires me to remain authentic.

And, every issue of the Writer’s Digest newsletter shows me the types of articles other writers want and need to read. They help me brainstorm what I want to write for my readers.

How to Attract More Like You?

  1. You are your own best consumer/customer/reader. So instead of following some trend that you wouldn’t read yourself [think things like wheat belly or paleo], start crafting articles or books or blog posts that you want to read.
  2. Become a smart user of social media; that means learning to use the #hashtags that people like YOU follow, or writing FB posts that get shared. If these concepts are foreign, read Frances Caballo’s book Social Media Just for Writers.  It’s worth far more than the $3 bucks.
  3. Where do you hang out online? Go there to find people of like-mind and invite them to your site; start conversations; do a survey; engage.
  4. Be authentic. We are hard-wired to love stories. Tell us yours. Don’t be afraid to show us your fails.
  5. Be generous with your knowledge and your time. I answer every email sent to me; I reply to every comment left on my blog. If you write me with a question I answer you with as much information as I have.

I hope these first steps in Tribe Building help you begin building a core group of people who love what you do and love what you write. And while you’re here, would you do me a favor and leave a comment? What Tribe Building idea do you like?


  • Connie

    Hey Nancy,
    Hope your trip was rejuvenating.
    How timely is your post? Extremely! Been thinking about what some call an avitar, you are calling it a tribe. Anyway, how very true it seems that as we think about the answers to these types of questions we really only need to look in the mirror. The hard part is being real with ourselves but finding the truth is fun. Carry on my friend. You most definitely are inspiring and I have happily learned quite a bit so far from you. Thank you. :0)

  • Nancy

    Hi Connie…thanks so much for the feedback and your comment. I think being authentic is necessary for being a writer, at least in my opinion. And yes, some days it can be hard. The trip was far too short but lovely.

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