When I think of all the books I bought last year, it wasn’t because of their stunning cover design, prestigious publishing house, or high rankings on Amazon. I bought them because I was a fan of the author, or at the recommendation of a friend.
In the age of the internet, consumers are smarter, and more picky than ever. We don’t fall for flashy marketing tricks anymore, and large media accolades like placement on a Best Sellers List or The Billboard Top 100 impress us less and less with each passing day. The internet has given every individual the ability to voice their own preferences and opinions, so why should I let USA Today tell me what qualifies as a “good book”? In today’s world, the maker is much better off focussing her energy on establishing connection and trust with a small group of people. This is very important to understand for anyone who wants to write books, record music, start a business, or make any art in the near future.
If Brene Brown comes out with a new book, my mother will put her pre-order in before the book hits any Best Seller lists.
Thousands of teenage girls are flocking to New York City this spring to see Gigi on Broadway. They don’t care how the New York Times reviewed the show, they want to see their crush, Corey Cott, fall in love with their childhood Disney star, Vanessa Hudgens.
If you tell my fiancé that Shonda Rhimes is producing a new TV show, she will watch it. No questions asked. She doesn’t have to know what it’s about, what network it’s on, or who’s starring in it. In her eyes, the maker behind the shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder can do no wrong. If Shonda’s name is on it, Erin will be tuning in.
Many of us are spending so much of our time worrying about the right packaging for our art, or trying to get noticed by the “giants in the industry”. Call me young and naive (I am) but I believe this is a huge waste of time. Instead, why not spend your time and energy on creating a following of devoted readers, listeners, and fans who not only will buy what you’re selling, but recommend it to everyone they know?
The same logic holds true for businesses, churches, and political candidates. Having this kind of devoted tribe means that you no longer need to wait for permission or funding or a good review. At this point, the cover of your book is almost irrelevant. These fans don’t judge your book by it’s cover. They don’t even need to see the cover. As long as your name is on it, they’re all in.