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Lessons Learned at Boulder StartUp Week

Last week, I was happy to attend a session at Boulder Startup Week on “Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Startup Realm“. The topic was especially intriguing since it combines my two vocations as Startup Founder and Meditation Teacher, and it featured three great speakers: Tom Higley of 10.10.10, Sarah Jane Coffey of Reboot.io, and Brad Feld, Managing Director of the highly successful Foundry Group (AND a strong advocate for revolutionizing the publishing industry).

Of the many insights I gleaned from the talk, there were a few that I found especially relevant to Find My Audience, our company and our users.

The first was a comment made by Tom that the insecurity endemic to startup life can often manifest in a form of “weaponized anxiety,” where a person’s (or organization’s) fear of failure gets projected onto other people in what is essentially a violent attack. The only way to disarm weaponized anxiety is to recognize your fears, own them, and turn them into excitement.

Just as an author faces the often-terrifying “fear of the blank page,” everyone who works at a startup is subject to persistent, daily insecurity, the knowledge that the basic existential matters of their work (financial security, viability of the business model, ability of the individual to contribute value to the company and the company to contribute value to society), are under constant question.

Writers learn to face this uncertainty as a matter of course, without reactivity or blaming their discomfort on someone else. Who else is there to blame? Instead, they embrace it every day as the juice of their creativity. Those of us who work in startups can learn a lot from that approach.

The other insight I found helpful was the call for authenticity in one’s emotional struggles, especially with one’s colleagues. A culture of “productivity at all costs” and relentless drive almost always leads to burnout, frayed psyches, and broken professional relationships, if not families!

Sarah Jane was especially poignant in her honest account of the wages of relentless, self-critical perfectionism; Tom was eloquent on the need for leaders to help create a culture that allows everyone, especially themselves!, to admit when they are pushing past their capacity; and Brad was inspiring in sharing how he works to neutralize his obsessive tendencies by giving himself the freedom to NOT DO what his schedule seemingly demands. (Sounds like an especially effective form of ad hoc Cognitive Behavioral Therapy!)

These speakers did a great job of restoring the personal dimension of technology work, a domain that famously risks turning individuals into machines. Being authentic about our skills, our capacities, as well as our emotional tendencies, is the only way to build a company with a healthy culture and, I would argue, a product with heart.

Authors of course know a lot about being authentic. Whether we are writing a novel, or software code, we need to speak from the place of our deepest human truth, flaws and all.

–Paul Agostinelli

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By |June 6th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Introducing Social Media Reciprocity

You’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of being on Twitter—and it can’t be overstated as a necessary part of your business or marketing plan.

If you’re new to Twitter, or social media in general, fear not! We are here to help. In our previous blog, How to Become Established on Twitter in Order to Use Find My Audience, we focused on the 1-2-3 steps of using Twitter. Now let’s talk about WHY to use it. To start, you’ve created something worth sharing and that work deserves to reach the largest possible audience. Find My Audience can help find quality audience members; now it’s up to you to connect with them.

Social media has the power to virtually connect millions of people. Your potential connections are endless – there simply are not enough hours in the day to reach all of them. And it’s important to remember that just posting a tweet doesn’t yield immediate results.  So while you go forward, we urge you to keep one vital principle in mind: Social Media Reciprocity (SMR).

The idea of SMR is based on  on mutual dependence or action—it’s sort of like having a conversation in the real world. For example, if you were to engage in a face-to-face conversation, would you spend the whole time talking about yourself? Maybe. For your acquaintance’s sake, hopefully not. Twitter conversations are a whole lot like a regular conversation: it’s about a mutual exchange. You can reach wider audiences and form stronger connections by sharing other people’s content, and interacting with them. In turn, they feel compelled, or interested enough, to share yours. In the Twittersphere, this can take the form of comments, retweets, favoriting, or dedicating a tweet to that person/account.

Creating a community based on reciprocity can be wildly beneficial. It shows that you are not a self-promoting narcissist, which will make people will far more likely to seek you out. It will also help you drive online traffic growth through proactive sharing, and ultimately help increase your brand’s legitimacy. We can call it social media etiquette, a social law, the ultimate rule; but in reality, this is simply just the best practice for growing your online following. Showing people you are engaging will encourage them to look deeper into your author profile and maybe even buy your book!

 

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By |April 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Welcome to Find My Audience  

You’ve taken the survey, supplied information about your book, and received the authorization code, which means that you’re officially a user in the Find My Audience Beta program. Welcome! Now what? Logging in to your account for the first time, you’ll see many profiles of potential “readers” on Twitter. If you click on one of these profiles, you can see why the Find My Audience algorithm pulled these users from Twitter; perhaps they have tweeted about your book, about a similar book or author, or maybe just expressed an interest in the genre in which you write.. In other words, they’ve started a conversation about books, and now you have the tool to continue the conversation.

At this point you’re ready to get started on working towards your ultimate goal for using our platform: creating relationships with people online through conversation, building your online presence as an author, and hopefully selling your book through these relationships.

If you’re a newbie to social media, you may be thinking: what the heck do I do now that I’ve logged in? What do I say to these people? Do I pitch my book to them right off the bat? What if I sound too sales-like? I want them to find genuine interest in me. How do I talk to people online?

The truth is that social media interactions are based on reciprocity.  Generally, what you put into it is what you will get out of it.  That being said, each person brings their own personality, talents, and style to their social media interactions. It is important to interact in a way you are comfortable with. If you are comfortable with pitching your work on the first tweet, go for it! If you like to get to know people and engage with them based on interests they’ve expressed, follow that avenue and then direct them to your author page by tweeting to them.  Of the myriad of interactive routes, the most important thing is to build your personal legitimacy through consistency and follow-up.

You already know that as an author, you have to promote yourself; as is the case with most indie authors, you and you alone are on the frontline of selling your book. We’re sure that you’ve read or been told many times that building a social media presence is crucial to becoming a successful author in today’s market. Interested readers will seek you out on social media to see what you’re about. Unless you have a huge marketing budget, a team of digital marketers working for you, or some bout of amazing luck, the chances are that building your online social presence will take some time—it won’t happen overnight! But we are here to make it easier for you and to save you some time.

What makes our platform valuable to you is that we’ve completely cut out the effort you would have to put into finding your own audience online. Our program is designed to make building an audience extremely easy. We have curated a dynamic group of people out of millions of online users who have something in common with your books, the books of another similar author, or your genre. We’ve taken these people and put them into one place for you, and given you the ability to filter through them, picking ones that are more relevant to you based on your own analysis of the conversations that are happening. Finding the right people to connect with is 90% of the battle when building an online presence, so we did it for you. All you have to do is connect.

You should consider each of these potential connections or readers as a regular person you might meet at a book club or even in an English class. You’re in the same place because you have similar interests; in this case it could be that you wrote a book that is similar to their favorite book. So start a conversation with them as if you would start a conversation in real life. After all, regardless of their digital appearance, there is a real person behind their handle, who is capable of conversing and forging relationships. How you approach and start conversations with your audience is up to you, and it will vary with each person.

What not to expect?  We can’t build your online relationships for you. Only you can promote your work in a true reflection of your artistic and personal style. We’re providing you with intelligent data and organization for you to capitalize on.  We’re happy to help you get the most out of our program and offer advice where we can. Consider our audience platform, blog, social media, and account management program as a great resource for you while you’re getting started with our Beta Program.

We’re looking forward to having you as a participant, and hearing about what you think, and how we can help you be a success in our program. Feel free to email us with questions, comments, and suggestions at support@findmyaudience.com

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By |April 12th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How To Use the Analytics Feature in FMA

If you are a current user in our Beta program, you may have noticed a little icon on the toolbar on your left screen  that indicates Analytics.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.50.01 AM

You may be wondering what the information in this area means, and how you can apply it to building your readership with our tool.

The analytics aspect of our tool provides users with a descriptive view of the social activity across your audience segments. Your audience segments are broken down into three different measurements: “This book” which is your direct audience and lists activity related to your book; the “Comparative audience,” a proximate audience and activity related to books that are determined to be “similar” to yours; and a “Mass Audience” activity related to the genre or other keywords of a larger, less specific audience. These are distinguished by colors, which you can see in the small key located in the upper right-hand corner.

The Analytics section is a great way to visualize the data that we use to identify audience members for your book profile. You can change your book profile to include various hashtags or keywords, and then see the measurements of those changes within Analytics. This is valuable to users as it allows them to see real data on what variations of keywords, search terms, hashtags, and similar books are producing the most conversation on the social web.

By utilizing these features, you can garner a more diverse and varied audience with whom to interact. Indeed, the Analytics section allows you to compare the potential of each audience member, as well as what inputs achieve new options. The more you are able to assess your audience members, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the more social connecting you will do!

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By |March 30th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Finding an Audience – A View from the Data

In previous posts, we’ve considered various aspects of book marketing from the point of view of the author or marketer. In this post, we’re going to shift gears slightly and talk about social media from a different perspective, that of the underlying data.

So before we proceed any further, consider this a Nerd Alert! We’re going to get a bit technical here. If talk of databases and search engines don’t excite you, now might be a good time to bail out.

For those of you still here (Hey, it’s everyone! Cool!), here’s a very high-level description of how we approach the challenges of Big Data as it pertains to the publishing world. Our goal is to match books to the social conversation occurring around those books as well as related books and topics. In order to do this, we keep our eye on the social web on an on-going basis, identifying people, places, and conversations where those books and topics are being discussed. We search across multiple channels, including Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, and the blogosphere (not all of these channels are currently active in our application) and apply our homegrown algorithms to distinguish the most relevant matches from the least relevant.

What constitutes relevant social activity varies from channel to channel. For example, a conversation might be defined by a Twitter hashtag or a discussion thread on a blog. A place might be a Goodreads group or a Facebook author page – on-line sites where interested readers congregate, indicating their likes and (sometimes) dislikes.

Our mechanism for searching also varies from channel to channel. Our custom-developed tools access social data through a combination of traditional search engine technologies, public and private APIs, and licensed data sources.

Once we identify relevant social conversation, we store that information and perform an initial series of analytics to index it to help us retrieve it when we need it – that is, when we want to display that content to a user in one of our applications. (For the database geeks out there, we use a hybrid, cloud-based relational and graph database tier to optimize our storage and local queries.)

The process of searching, indexing, and storing data occurs at different frequencies, as appropriate for each channel. Twitter data changes quite rapidly – second by second, in fact! – so we keep an eye on the “firehose” of Tweets on a real-time basis. (It’s possible for a user to see a Tweet in the FMA application that was posted less than 10 seconds before.) For other social networks that fluctuate less rapidly, we may search and store content daily, weekly, or even monthly. In all cases, we try to stay as current with social conversation as is warranted by the channel in order to bring the most value to our user.

The net result of the process described above is a vast database of information about social network activity related to books and the written word, and a set of tools that can be employed both at fixed intervals and in “real-time” to search social networks for relevant conversations.

It’s a rich trove of information that constitutes the data foundation of our business and powers our user applications. We’ve always known that an author or book marketer should not be expected to have to deal with all that data, and we are more than happy to help in the process, hopefully cutting days to hours, hours to minutes, and minutes to seconds when it comes to finding interested readers on the social web.

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By |March 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Importance of Keywords

The value of Find My Audience’s tool is the ability to discover a diverse and valuable readership on social media through our audience locator. To do this, the use of keywords is an essential part of the process.

Every night, Find My Audience aggregates millions of conversations from the Twittersphere in order to create custom audiences for our users. Our tool searches for the most relevant tweets and discussions happening across Twitter that are related to your book, genre, and similar books based on keywords and search terms being used by people across the web. With this information, we create your audience and from there you decide which of these audience members you want to reach out to and connect with—these are your “leads.”

Keywords are words or terms that describe your book or a similar one. After we initially provide you with an initial audience, we will continue to send you new audience members each night based on the keywords that are in your book profile. When you first become a user at Find My Audience, your book will already have keywords and terms associated with it based on research and analysis done by our team. However, you can add your own keywords and terms into your book profile as well. In fact, you should: it’s valuable to add additional terms or remove old ones when you can in order to create new and different audiences to source leads from.

You can choose keywords based on words or phrases you think are being used by potential readers on Twitter when discussing your book or similar ones. For example, say your book is similar to Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. The genre for your book is memoir, which means general keywords for searching for your audience could include terms such as #cherylstrayed or #memoir. These terms will help produce a rich audience and discussion surrounding this book, and will surface any discussion happening across Twitter regarding either #cherylstrayed or #memoir—which is rather broad, but still valuable when developing a leads.

To expand and refresh your audience, you could add more narrow terms such as “self discovery” and/or “personal journey” to your book profile. Get creative with your new terms, and see what sort of language works. If your book is similar to Wild, but you know that your readership will likely be young adults, add keywords such as #yalit, #juvenilefiction or even #wattpad[1]. Thinking about and researching the way that people would discuss or label discussions about your type of book is your clue to developing strong keywords and phrases that will give you better results each day.

[1]Wattpad is an online writing community where a lot of young writers and readers share their work. In this theoretical situation where you have written a YA memoir, doing a little research about where online your readership hangs out and shares work will lead you straight into the arms of Wattpad. It’s extra steps like this to develop keywords that will allow you to diversify and enrich your audience results.

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By |February 29th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Become Established on Twitter In Order to Use Find My Audience

Are you an author interested in finding your audience? We’re here to help. Find My Audience is a social media management platform for authors who are actively trying to grow their readership. We make it simple for you to find potential readers by scouring the social web for people, places, and conversations that relate to your work. To get the most out of Find y Audience’s platform, you should have a Twitter presence. If you aren’t on Twitter already, here are some tips to help you get started.

First things first: if you don’t have a Twitter account, you need to sign up here. When you’re choosing a handle (@), the most obvious thing to do is to use your name. If you have a common name like Joe Smith, you might want to consider adding a descriptor (e.g., @JoeSmithWriter). If you have other social media accounts that require unique usernames (e.g., Instagram), we suggest you be consistent with the handle you use.

Next, you need to consider how you want to build your brand. To do this on Twitter, create hashtags that identify yourself and your book, such as #yourname and #yourtitle. These hashtags create communities based around specific conversations (like #optoutside for REI). If you want to search communities, you need to search hashtags in order to find the most recent conversations about those topics and the people who are talking about them. The more you hashtag your book title and your name, the more others will do the same – it’s a form of reciprocity, which marketers suggest for good social media etiquette. You can also hashtag your genre in order to attract audience members interested in that topic.

We strongly suggest you make social marketing on Twitter a part of your daily routine. Just like you plan a specific time to work out during the day, or to cook dinner, or to write, designating 15 minutes a day to creating your own tweets, following new people, and retweeting will allow you to have a constant presence on Twitter.

More helpful tips:

-The best readers are authors. Don’t be shy to follow and engage with them.

-Save character space by using link-shortening websites like bit.ly.

-Have a succinct and informative bio and a link to your author website.

-It’s never a bad idea to put your book cover as your cover photo.

-Link to excerpts of your book using sentences that hook readers.

Once you get started, you’ll have all the tools you will need to get started with our Beta. This is a really exciting chance to grow your readership in a fun way, expressing your personality and engaging with new people.

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By |February 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What It’s Like to Work in Boulder, Colorado

Our team feels lucky to work at Find My Audience for a multitude of reasons – but namely because of its prime location. Our office is based in Boulder, Colorado, which is a quaint college town nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Some people call it a little San Francisco, but we think we’ve got them beat (even if we’re biased). Here are 5 reasons why working in Boulder is unbeatable:

  • Boulder is a hub for innovation. Not only is it home to the University of Colorado at Boulder, but it also hosts an impressive number of startup companies in both the technology and holistic lifestyle industries. For example, our office is located next to the very successful granola company, Purely Elizabeth. They just dropped by earlier this week to give us free samples of their organic granola (and we’re obsessed)! P.S. (They’re hiring).
  • The hiking trails are unbeatable. How nice would it be to spend your lunch break hiking the trails of Boulder’s famous Chautauqua Park? Or rock climbing up on Mt. Sanitas? Or strolling around the Boulder Reservoir? It’d be a fantastic luxury. We should know – we love to take advantage ourselves!
  • You can bike to work. Boulder is a cycle friendly town that is almost always sunny. If you haven’t heard, Colorado has 300 days of sunshine a year. Not bad for a bike ride, right?
  • Were a 15-minute walk to the Pearl Street Mall and a 5-minute drive away. Treat yourself to a scenic lunch at the West End Tavern, the Rio, or the Med. Dining in Boulder will never disappoint.
  • Youll find a boutique coffee shop on the corner of every street. We highly suggest trying the Oatmeal Raison Cookie tea from Pekoe Sip House – or if you like to mix your drinks, you can always grab a glass of wine in addition to your coffee at the Laughing Goat. You can’t go wrong there!

 

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to work in Boulder, it’s still a great place to visit. And if you’re an author interested in using Find My Audience, don’t be shy! We’re located in the Steelyards at the corner of Pearl and 30th. We’d love to give you a tour of the office and show you how our tool can help you maximize your book marketing efforts online. Plus, you never know when we’ll have a dog running around the office! ☺

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By |February 12th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Writers and Micro Moments

Talk to any savvy digital marketer these days and you’ll find that the trend everyone is discussing is “micro-moments.” It should come as no surprise that the phrase was coined by Google to describe those “intention-laden moments” that drive users who want to “know, go, do, or buy.”

While these intentional moments are critical for Google to understand what ads to push down to the user, they can also be important moments that writers can use to build community, introduce, and sell their books. They are moments when you can shape the perception of your potential audience. Don’t lose the opportunity to do so!

But first you must understand where the audience — and therefore the opportunity — is. Let’s start up at the macro level and then we’ll move to specifics. Traditionally, marketers (spurred on by work done by various companies, most notably Proctor & Gamble), thought of the customer-buying journey as consisting of three steps or “moments”:

* Stimulus

* Shelf Experience

* Experience

The advent of the Internet created an additional step, one that now takes places after the stimulus, and is referred to as the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) — a term popularized by Google’s Jim Lecinski and discussed in his ebook, ZMOT: Winning The Zero Moment of Truth.

The ZMOT is that decision-making moment when a consumer turns to the web to do research on a specific product. As Lecinski notes, “Whether you sell yachts or shaving cream, your customers’ first impression — and quite possibly their final decision — will be made in that moment: ZMOT.”

More recently, digital marketing maven Brian Solis has added another step: the UMOT. Solis writes that “The UMOT signifies the instant when a customer creates content based on an experience with your product or service and publishes it in their community or network of preference for others to find. The intention of doing so is a combination of self-expression and the desire to inform others.”

The Customer Journey is now five steps, then. Below is a graphic that Solis has done to illustrate the steps along the way.

Untitled

So, what does this have to do with you — the writer looking to sell your book? Well, first and foremost it establishes a new Mental Model for the way you locate, build, and reach out to your potential audience of readers. Let’s call it The Audience Location Model. Let’s map that model to the five marketing steps pictured above.

We’ll start with the first step of the journey: the stimulus. How do you 1) “stimulate” a potential reader’s awareness of and interest in your book? Or, alternatively, 2) how do you identify a stimulus (an event or trend) that provides an opportunity for you to build community, or even pitch your book?

We suggest a two-fold strategy. First, play the long game — and play it well. Find great people to follow, build a community, engage in conversations, retweet, favorite, like, and when the time is right, mention your book. This strategy works, but it takes patience — and reciprocation, what we refer to in our office as The Social Contract.

Second, you should also follow events and trends that are closely tied to your book. Of course you’ll need to identify what those might be. We suggest you start by identifying the following three types of events or trends that are relevant to your book (there may be more). Here are three you can begin with:

  1. Internal – refers to events or trends in your book (e.g., Pearl Harbor)
  2. External – Birth and death date, awards, sales figures, etc. of comparable authors.
  3. Trending – current events-hashtags that can provide marketing and community-building opportunities.

There are a number of tools you can use to engage in this “forensic marketing.” Of course Twitter and Facebook have trend feeds and Google has a number of tools, including Google Trends, that can be helpful. But the secret sauce lies in the ability to understand that a specific trend or event has a causal connection to your book in some way and provides a marketing opportunity. For example, if you have written a book about female pilgrimage, you would want to join in on conversations about the movie Wild. In short, to identify that causal connection, you have to know your own work and you have to keep a watchful eye on the social channels — a time-consuming activity!

In our next post, we’ll take a look at the second step of your reader’s journey, the Zero Moment of Truth, and discuss how you can use it to shape your reader’s perception of your work.

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By |December 4th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Meet & Greet Mondays: An Interview with Jennifer Bowen from Bookhive

This week Meet and Greet Monday interviews Jennifer Bowen, ‘Queen Bee’ (CEO & Founder) of BookHive, an online  service that provides focus groups for authors who want to test finished manuscripts in target markets. Jennifer is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts and writer of the YA trilogy, The June Awakening Series. Her creation, BookHive combines target audiences with authors looking for feedback on their work.

Where did the idea for BookHive come from?

I’d been working on my first Young Adult novel. After a year of writing and getting feedback from my writers group in NYC, I was curious what a fifteen-year-old girl would think. While the people in my group thought it had promise, they were all in their 30s and 40s, and I wondered if I had my finger on the pulse for my target audience. So I cobbled together a group of teenagers to get feedback. I took that feedback and it truly informed my edits that next year. When I retested it a year later with a new group of teenagers, it tested much stronger. That’s when I knew I might have something that could help other authors.

How do you feel BookHive provides value to the writing community?

It’s an organized, vetted beta-reader process. We provide responses from eight-to-ten targeted readers where the author can receive fresh, unbiased feedback.

What is the most successful genre(s) for BookHive? Why?

Right now we test Fiction of all kinds, YA/Middle Grade and Memoir. Thus far, all of these genres have been successful.

Tell us a little bit about what happens when a Beta Reader is assigned a manuscript. How long do they have to read it? What does feedback look like?

Our beta readers are first vetted when they sign up. We gather their basic demographics (age, gender, region) as well as ask for a writing sample, how many books they read a year, if they are in a book club, and the types of books they enjoy. When a new manuscript comes in, we reach out to our beta readers with the synopsis and make sure it’s a book they would normally gravitate to. They have approximately three+ weeks to read it. The survey is both qualitative and quantitative, and the author can add two to three personalized questions to address any specific concerns. The results are a 35+ page report full of feedback, along with a two-to-three page analysis by a BookHive representative. The results are then discussed with the author over a phone or SKYPE call.

How has BookHive evolved since you began? Did it take any surprising directions you didn’t expect?

Mostly that it’s been effective thus far and the authors are happy. Who knew? I mean, I knew it worked for me, but I was glad it worked for others. A few times the beta readers have pointed out an issue that later the author will tell me someone else has previously mentioned. That gives me reassurance that we are on the right track.

Find My Audience is interested in the differing opinions that individuals have when defining the idea of an “audience”. How would you define “audience”? As an innovator of the publishing world, what does audience mean to you?

I think the audience for my authors are those faithful readers who love their style and, ideally, become life long fans. By letting the beta readers into the process a little earlier, we hope to create a culture that promotes everyday consumers being more valuable. We will never replace editors and are not looking to do that. But before authors hand over their manuscript to a very small group, or even singular person, for shaping the whole thing, I think it’s smart to get a read on their true audience, those folks who will actually be buying the book one day.

 

JenniferBowen_BookHive

 

 

Jennifer Bowen
QueenBee (more fun than CEO)
BookHive Corp.

https://www.bookhivecorp.com

Tweet me: @bookhivequeen
Facebook me: BookHive Corp

 

 

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

 

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By |November 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments