The following methods utilize Thinkific which, if you’re not already familiar with it, is an all-in-one course creation platform. Now, I know you’re asking yourself what this has to do with authors. I'm going to let you in on the secrets of successful book launches and a secret that indie musicians are using to make bank with niche audiences.
Come along as I show you a way to rocket your engagement, preorders, and legit fan base and become the next rockstar-author.
In short, Thinkific provides an affordable option for experts to create and offer courses to their audiences.
It is not only a user-friendly and cost-efficient option for course creators, but authors can take advantage of its affordability, too.
How can authors use Thinkific? Authors can create "courses" that house their content and reader discussions in a well-organized space that is easily navigated by readers ("students.")
You can title your "course" anything you like, and you can tweak, alter, or add to it without limit. So don't let the word "course" box you into a singular idea of how you can harness the power of this platform.
The most obvious use of Thinkific appeals to non-fiction authors writing in business, self-help, or similar genres.
As Thinkific allows you to create courses of any size and offer them for any price (even free), these authors can use Thinkific to create mini-courses as lead magnets to encourage readers to interact further, increase the probability of future purchases of products or services, and invite them to join a Facebook group or email list.
Illustrated, the sequence for the non-fiction author resembles:
If you're a non-fiction writer, you should list a short link to your free mini-course in the back of your book and encourage people to visit your website, email you, and follow you on social media.
Hold on to your seats, folks, this is where we get revolutionary. On a much higher level (think hugely popular authors), what I’m about to show you is implemented religiously and executed with precision
The Pre-Order Party
Want to rock your pre-orders? Then you should offer readers exciting incentives to help them justify the purchase your book at full price before it’s even been released. This section, it's worth noting, is applicable to both fiction and non-fiction authors.
Although many authors are now doing a great job of hosting book release parties in Facebook Groups and Events (if you’re one of those authors, then you are ROCKING it!), these mediums are not always ideal for content sharing.
Videos all go to one location, are not titled or organized in a way that is simple to navigate, and PDF (and other) files get dumped into a single massive folder. It’s messy and tedious to navigate, but you don’t have to continue to share your pre-order party content that way.
With Thinkific, you can beautifully structure, organize, and deliver all of your video, audio, and PDF files. Bonus, you can pre-load content and drip it. (Drip content is delivered at intervals as specified by you.)
This means that you can batch-create your content ahead of time so you can consistently deliver fresh content to your readers without all the hassle of coming up with new content every week!
Here's another great perk...
Your readers can actually have conversations within Thinkific! You have the interactive aspect just as you do in Facebook, but you can have far better organization of content.
Worried about the idea of structuring and organizing your content? Don't! The Thinkific team has created (and is always improving) one of the most user-friendly platforms that even the less-techy of us can navigate and employ with ease.
The smart strategy is to use a Facebook group in conjunction with Thinkific for your pre-order readers. Facebook is the easiest way to keep people updated on additions, changes, and the conversations that are happening inside your Thinkific pre-order party.
This is absolutely up to you, but it’s important to be creative and brainstorm incentives that your readers will enjoy and appreciate. Touch base with your beta readers and critique partners to share your ideas and get help refining them.
Some digital content incentive ideas to get you started:
Schedule a live, online party with door prizes the night before release – party is for confirmed pre-order purchasers only.
Character bio sheets
Scenes that didn’t make it into the book
Anything you can think of that would make the “Extras” section of the DVD if your book was made into a movie.
Do you have content and other incentive ideas to share? Post them in the comments!
The VIP Fan Club
This is the secret weapon that indie musicians are using to make a real income from their music without signing to a label or spending several months at a time touring out of a beat up minivan.
A VIP Fan Club brings the focus to your biggest fans by giving them an exclusive place to hang out and connect with you. This is where you can focus on rewarding them for their loyalty by providing everything a biggest fan could want. What this offers to you is another means of income generation as an author.
While there will definitely be more work involved in managing the club and providing great content and activities, you will have incredible access to the readers who love your work the most. They will be able to provide the kind of insight and feedback that allows you to share your work with more people just like them.
A yearly membership is ideal as it allows you to ship some fabulous swag/gear/promotional products to them as a welcome pack without putting you in the red to do it, and it gives you the fire to create the content ASAP and consistently host the activities that will demonstrate your deep appreciation for their loyalty.
Thinkific’s Essentials plan is ideal for VIP Clubs as it allows you to implement monthly or annual subscriptions, drip content, and use tiered multi-pricing (ie. VIP Silver, Gold, Platinum.)
Before you wonder about whether you can afford the investment, let’s consider that VIP fans are happy to pay a premium to receive (and this is proven as authors, musicians, and other public figures have fan clubs based on this model):
A swag pack with:
Hand-signed paperback copy of your book
Logo coffee mug
Chances to chat with you live online, either in a group or privately
PLUS all of the digital content you can provide within Thinkific, similar to the content suggested in the pre-order party section.
You should definitely add monthly live online events where you go Live in your VIP Fan Club's private Facebook group or host a Google Hangout with them.
You must make it an experience that the fan sees as a no-brainer, one that doesn’t end with the package of goodies, and your fans will be happy to pay a yearly VIP Fan Club membership fee.
Priced right, it can not only keep you in the black after swag, shipping, and the Thinkific Essentials investment, but it can also pad you with a few extra thousand dollars each year.
Imagine having a hundred members who would be ecstatic to get your book swag, have instant online access to your book “extras,” and get access to talk to you on a monthly basis!
These examples demonstrate that there is so much more that you can be doing to lengthen and improve the reader experience in a way that will generate you an increased number of deeply-loyal fans and an increased income.
It just doesn’t make sense to not do it when we have tools like Thinkific that allow us to improve the reader experience in a cost-efficient manner and show them how much we really appreciate having them as fans.
Your first step should be to determine what is most important for you right now - getting pre-orders or building a VIP fan club.
Then, brainstorm what you will provide to them upon instant access after verifying their pre-order or after they pay for their yearly membership. After that, develop a schedule for what exactly you will share with them and when in order to keep that momentum and excitement going. Continually ask yourself, how can you gamify the experience to take it to the next level for your readers?
Next, click over to Thinkific. Create a free account and start playing around with it to see what you can do while you're solidifying your plans. I recommend 20 minutes of testing/exploration each day to really get the hang of the features. Even better, take one of their many free courses on how to maximize your use of the platform. They also host lots of eye-opening webinars to help you learn how to provide great content and even market your course - or, in our case, our private parties or clubs.
Need more help with marketing, planning, and book sales? Join the Author Transformation Alliance today to get new courses each month that will empower you to save time, market effectively, and sell more copies. You also get live group coaching every month so you can get tailored solutions to your most pressing challenges. We're here for you. :-)
What will you do to create extraordinary reader experiences that go way beyond the book?
P.S. Want a simple way to get started on the path to selling more books? Join the Author Transformation Alliance for less than a dollar per day to get the training and lively support you need to succeed without spinning your wheels and being endlessly frustrated.