Saturday, 8 February 2014

Planning for success - five years of Glencoe Mountaineer


Sometimes authors ask me how I managed to snag a relatively large and extremely loyal readership for my books so quickly. Most indies coast along for their first year or two unless they get lucky; "maybe you were lucky?" I get asked, or "it must be fairy dust." This is of course still the beginning of my journey and in the grand scheme of things my audience isn't that huge yet, but there can be no doubt that I have got off to a very good start.

The truth is that I put in years of preparation and am just beginning to reap the rewards of work I did a long time ago.

In February 2009 I established a little blog called Glencoe Mountaineer. Its beginnings were humble, but over the years it became established as one of the best winter mountaineering blogs around. Today it's run by my brother James (who took over in 2011 after I moved away from Scotland) and his amazing Scottish landscape photos have become nationally famous.

This blog built up a loyal readership, partly thanks to the Facebook community which has over 1500 fans. Glencoe Mountaineer is, of course, a worthwhile thing in its own right and a very personal account of our adventures, but it was also planned right from the start as a way of building up an audience of readers. Even in 2008 I knew that one day I would need a resource like this.

So I may not be making a fortune from my books, but I am incredibly fortunate to have hundreds of readers who know me, know my writing, and will enthusiastically spread the word when I release a new book. It's no accident that the target audience for the blog and the target audience for my fiction is identical.

The last five years have been incredibly rewarding. Glencoe Mountaineer remains a tangible record of all the amazing adventures James and I have had in the Scottish hills, and in reading through the old blog posts astute readers will be able to see glimpses into the origins of my books. The post "A Summer's Evening at the Clachaig Inn" went almost verbatim into The Only Genuine Jones.

As I'm sure you're beginning to see, I owe a great deal not only to that blog, but also to my time in Glencoe. My years spent living in the mountains gave me everything I have today.

If you're in indie author thinking about releasing your first book, it may not be practical to plan years in ahead like I did, but the most important piece of advice I can give you is this: get to know your audience, and make sure they have the opportunity to get to know you!

Here is the blog post I published today on Glencoe Mountaineer, including six of the best moments in the blog's history.
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