Monday, October 9, 2017

Gather A Flock

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell

Create a following, and they'll sell your books for you.

But how to cultivate a flock of adoring fans?

How geniuses have created followings in the past—

—Escape the inescapable. (Houdini)
—Itch curiosity. (documentaries)
—Engage and connect. (talk to people where they are, both physically and mentally)
—Do something incredibly stupid and brag about it. (viral videos)
—Elaborate marketing schemes. (PT Barnum)
—An irresistible product. (according to, PlayStation is the highest selling product of all time)
—Jump the Grand Canyon in your minivan. (Don’t. Just don’t)
—Be extraordinarily attractive. (mmmhmmm. We've already got that covered, haven't we? *swishes hair over the shoulder)

The key to each of these methods? 

Great marketers did. And did again. And again. They did their scheme over and over, perfecting their ideas and shows until polished. Houdini kept escaping. Ken Burns keeps churning out amazing documentaries. Ted Talk speakers connect with their audience. Stupid folks continue to accentuate their weakness. And so on.

How many diets work? All of them. If you can stick the discipline like a gymnast's landing.

Consistency, coupled with a great product, creates a following.

For ten years, I’ve set before me the slogan History is the passion. Historical fiction is the game. I consistently used my passion to make history entertaining for those who need a strange fact or a laugh. History explains the past to make a point for today. History shows successes and failures, giving guidance and hope to the lost.

But these things take:
Time. (years/decades)
Consistency. (similar product/content)
Practice. (tweaks for polish)

To maintain a decade long campaign, you have to LOVE what you’re doing, or be completely dedicated, or be slightly insane. Insanity helps.

Once you have a bit of a following, how do you keep them?

—Don’t jar them with wild changes. (When the musician had changed his sound, I remember yelling at his concert, ‘practice on your own time!')
—Know your audience, meet their needs.
—Keep content fresh. (copy/paste your previous successes doesn’t cut it. Like Houdini, challenge yourself to step up your game. Make your work more interesting, clear, and impossible to escape)

Gain and keep your following. They’ll encourage you when you’re down, sell your books while sleep, and frankly, they’re just the coolest people to hang around. Reward them with your best!



Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at