As a writer, yes, it’s your responsibility to develop a GREAT book. But it is ALSO your responsibility to create an engaged audience. Maybe you can’t conjure up 4 million passionate fans by yourself, but you may be able to engage 400 or 4,000 fans.
Steve Blank and Eric Ries have some innovative theories about this. They focus on startup companies – those who have a great idea for a product, get financial backing, then work furiously hard to make it a reality.
Most startups focus on PRODUCT development. Once they get financial backing and put the team in place, they lock themselves in a room and focus intently on developing the PRODUCT, working towards launch.
What Steve and Eric evangelize is the idea of focusing of developing CUSTOMERS.
This means involving your target audience at every step of the development process, and constantly iterating your product based on their needs & feedback. So instead of focusing on the ‘thing’ you are building, you are focusing on the needs & people you are creating a solution for.
It’s not a direct correlation for authors, but consider it this way: Too many authors work alone in a room on their book, then get the gears rolling at a publishing house, only to drop their LIFE’S WORK into the world, and have it greeted by silence.
Do you want crickets chirping when your book finally hits the shelves?
These authors developed the product, but not the audience. They ASSUMED people would react a certain way. And we all know what happens when you assume…
If you want to earn a living as an author, don’t focus just on the book. Focus on the audience – at every step of the process, involve them. By the time you come to a publisher or agent with your book, you should have proven your ability to not just write a book, but develop an audience.