When you first began writing, did you ever think you’d have to take care of building your audience at the same time?

If you’re anything like me, you didn’t even consider the amount of work it takes to find readers, the pressure of getting noticed, how frustrating the topic of discoverability can be! (or maybe when you started writing you went in with no blinders and knew exactly what to expect…I wish I was like that! I tend to make a decision and jump, not worrying about issues until I face them.)

No matter what stage you are in with your writing career, discoverability is an issue in today’s marketplace. Not just for you and me, but also for publishers, publicists etc. We’re all struggling with it. We’re all facing it. We all are trying to find the best way possible to figure out way around this.

But I’m starting to see a trend that isn’t sitting right with me.

There are ways to buy yourself onto a bestseller list on different retailers. Services are jumping up promising to provide a certain numbers of reviews and ranking depending on how much you’re willing to pay. There are even providers who are asking you to pay for ARC readers – saying they can guarantee so many eyes on your books.

We all know how important reviews are. We all understand the ranking system. We all want to find more readers to buy our books. But I have a thought.

How about focusing on finding authentic readers rather than buying them?

Our goal should be to engage with authentic readers,
not ones we’ve bought.

One thing I have realized is how paramount is for us writers to stop focusing on the sales and start focusing on our readers. Our real readers! Not the ones we’ve bought to pay for our books. Not the ones we’ve paid to download a free copy.

I’m not saying that giving out ARCs or paying for ads is the wrong way to help make ourselves visible.

But I do think that paying hundreds of dollars for an ARC service (a provider who will send out your book to a certain number of readers – and promise you reviews or rankings) isn’t the way do it.

What is an authentic reader? They are someone who has found you, has read your book, has left a review and then went to purchase/download another to read. The cycle is repeated with each book they read. They seek you out whether it’s on social media or via your website. They sign up for your newsletters. They join your reader groups. They tell their friends and family about your books and get excited when they find someone else who has read you.

Your authentic reader is someone who is YOUR fan.

Can your authentic reader be found via an ARC delivery service? Sure. Along with a bunch of readers who aren’t ‘YOUR READER’ and didn’t enjoy your book or are paid to read your book or given an incentive to leave a review. Will this paid service end up helping you when it comes to your next book launch or will you have to pay them hundreds of dollars again in the hopes?

This career we have, it’s not an easy one. I get that. I’m in the boat with you. I’ve had to build my readership from 0 and I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way and found a lot of readers who weren’t authentic, who weren’t true. They stuck around for a contest or the promise of a free book but then jumped ship the moment they could. They weren’t my real reader. They weren’t my audience.

We have to be creative when it comes to our book launches. We have to step outside the box when looking for readers. But paying for services that promise things they can’t possibly keep? That’s not the way to do it. Paying for reviews – that only hurts us all in the end (as seen right now with how Amazon continues to delete reviews, whether they are legitimate or not). Don’t pay for people to read your ARCS. There are other ways to get word out about your book.

From one author to another, who prefers to focus on the reader rather than the sale….