Terah Edun is a young adult bestselling fantasy author who writes the stories that she always loved to read as a young girl. Her Courtlight and Crown Service series are in libraries and bookstores, and are “sure to whet readers” appetite for suspense and intrigue” according to RT Book Review, and can be seen on the USA Today Happily Ever After blog.
Together the series have sold over 250,000 copies. Her books are available in five languages, audio, and print. She recently chatted to Inkitt about what it takes to grow a fanbase and reach the right readers through social media.
Terah is more than happy to answer any questions our writers may have about growing their readership for the StoryPeak Novel Contest which is a free novel contest that promises THREE winning authors a publishing deal. Submissions are open worldwide in the hope of finding three bestsellers!
1. When did you start writing?
I started writing three years ago as an outlet while working in the world’s newest country, South Sudan. During the year that I was deployed there, I found that writing my own stories was a great diversion when I was alone and needed something to take my mind off where I was. Since I started writing in a place where I truly saw the resilience, the spirit, and the bravery of girls and teens in everyday circumstances, I wanted to convey that in my own books. So South Sudan is where I became a writer and it’s also the place that contributes the core message of my books to girls and teens everywhere: Be Brave! Passing the spirit of the young women I met in such extenuating circumstances on to a young adult audience through my books is one of the greatest things I can accomplish. It allows me to show young girls that they too are capable of extraordinary things and I wouldn’t have it any other way
2. With a huge online fan-base, what are some of the ways in which you have successfully grown your readership?
Being active on social media, having a professional persona, and giving readers easy ways to access you as well as information about your books I think are the three most important things for being a successful writer in the social media age.
The best thing I ever did, when I first got started, was to re-tool my website to tailor itself to new readers and new releases. I think a huge part of that success is actually due to having an integrated and responsive web presence on all social media channels but also on my most important platform —my website.
Some of the things I point out here are critical, some are just personal touches that I prefer – like having a countdown timer to the next release.
Your website is you. You are your website. Here’s a quick look at why a tool like that is so important. On average I have tens of thousands of readers on my website every month. Knowing that, all these readers are interested in three things:
– Learning about my books
– How to buy the books
– What is next in the pipeline
But how did they arrive to this site? Here’s what that looks like and how those people found my website:
The fact that referral traffic is so high is an incredible testament to how important a social media presence is. Readers clicking on my website links from places like Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr are the reason why I have 41% of my traffic.
Beyond the search traffic, I wanted to give you a quick look into the device breakdown for my website viewers:
Not only is having a reader-effective website useful, but having one that is mobile-responsive is critical. You have to realize that not only are readers finding you by searching your name on desktops, but also by looking for you on their phones, searching your titles on their tablets, and all sorts of wonderful gadgets. If you don’t have a website that can interface properly with all of those things, you aren’t reaching your full potential audience.
Chat with me in the comments and I’m happen to recommend web designers for any budget or look over your website with some personal recommendations for improvements!
3. Could you talk more specifically about marketing your books? What are some of the social media avenues you have utilized and what advice would you give authors who are just starting out?
In the case of a writer just getting their feet wet in the world of publishing, the number one thing I would advise for marketing your books is to:
1. Start a mailing list
2. Write the next book
3. Inform the mailing list of a new book
4. Do it all over again
There is nothing better for a writer than a new book available for readers to enjoy. Once you have that, you can start doing advertisements, specials, and promotions like free books for a three-day sale that will allow readers to enjoy a taste of your first book while looking forward to the next.
4. What is your experience of Twitter and what has the process been like in terms of getting followers?
I love Twitter. Precisely because it lets you have personal and intimate conversations with brand-new people every day. For writers especially, twitter is the ideal place to humanize us as people instead of just as the person who writes all those books. Readers feel like they get to know you on twitter and in turn, you get to know them. I’ve found that being genuine while also having fun by posting memes and gifs as well as book quotes is a good mix.
5. Could you talk about effective targeting and finding a market for your work? How important is targeting when it comes to reaching your readership?
Targeting and knowing who your readers are is incredibly important for an author starting out. You need to know what genre of readership you’re writing for (science fiction, historical, contemporary romance, fantasy, thrillers and the list goes on) as well as what category you’re targeting (middle grade, young adult, new adult, or adult). Those readers all have very different tastes and when you’re writing a hot, contemporary romance with a biker and a librarian, you should have the appropriate reader in your mind when you’re writing scenes between the couple. The same with a young adult urban fantasy which is geared towards a different audience with different tastes. The type of book influences everything about how you market your work, including effective price points, cover designs, and the ‘rules’ for writing in that genre.
For instance, I’ve found that action thrillers can bear very high price points for authors and have friends who price their new releases at $6.99 or higher because the market will bear that price. That is less true of assorted other genres. While in romance genres readers have certain precepts for the books they will read, one consist is that a romance featuring the story of a couple coming together must have a ‘happily ever after.’ Do I need a HEA in high fantasy? No, but if I was a primarily romance writer I would. So all this to say, know your market, know your genre and know your reader.
6. What advice would you give our authors or what advice do you wish was given to you about self-promotion 5 or 10 years ago?
Well, five years ago I wasn’t writing. I think people should know that the publishing world is changing at lightning speed and they need to be flexible. If they see an opportunity jump on it but do so with an eye towards making your brand and your name one that you will want to keep with you for years to come.
7. What challenges have you encountered over the years when it comes to your writing career?
Moving deftly with the market trends is one that I’ve found is a challenge but you learn to evolve over time. For instance, when I started out the newest strategy was to have the first book free, known as ‘permafree’. Before 2011-2012 this was something that was unheard of. Now it’s a commonplace tactic and writers are learning to find new more innovative marketing practices to reach their readerships as time moves on.
I’m happy to discuss more of these tactics as well. Feel free to reach out to me in the comments or through these sites: