Customer Relationship Management for the Indie Author

CRM Pyramid Customer Relationship Management Steps


In business, there is a concept called customer relationship management. Defined, customer relationship management is a strategy designed for managing interactions not only with current customers, but with future customers, as well. Because these relationships are critical bloodlines to any business, they must be measured, analyzed and planned upon for ultimate performance and thus optimum sales.

As a small business, it is critical authors do the same thing. Unlike large industry sectors, there aren’t oodles of tech companies with solutions for the author to pull from that will do the measuring for them. As a result, authors must be creative in developing their readership and fan base.

Like industry, what works for one author and/or genre will more than likely not work for another. When I was blogging for author Terri G. Long, one of my most popular posts discussed the concept of best practices. While best practices are a great guide, utilizing them as an end all is a sure fire way to a crash and burn, BUT, that doesn’t mean an author can’t tweak a best practice to make it work for them. Who knows, a new best practice might be born.

So, how does an author go about developing their fan base? In this post, I want to focus on four methods for developing your fan base.

  • Goodreads and sites like it: Even with all the drama and ridiculousness that occurs on Goodreads, there is no place like it for having a centralized group of readers at one’s fingertips. Seriously, what could be more like shooting fish in a barrel? Millions of readers ripe for the picking and most, like me, have a serious addiction to reading and looking for their next favorite read.

One piece of advice that I have garnered from successful authors and that I pass onto clients regarding Goodreads is get on, do your work and get out staying above the drama. No more than 15 minutes per day should help an author accomplish what they desire to accomplish. Just remember, you can’t be pulled into drama unless you allow yourself to be. So, when that one star review makes you want to pull your hair out. Remember it is one review, but your reaction to it can cost lots, least of which is valuable time to dedicate to other profitable opportunities.

I have found that USA today best-selling author, Bette Lee Crosby, has offered the best advice for navigating Goodreads and developing a reader list. Bette will periodically offer one of her books on a Goodreads giveaway. When a reader signs up for it, Bette reviews the person’s profile. If the reader has numerous books in Bette’s genre on his/her to be read list, Bette sends them a friend request. She may or may not follow this up with a private message. Voila, she now has an instant list for events or sales she has of her books. Because one is limited in the number of Goodreads friends allowed, she treasures these connections like gold to ensure there is a return on investment

Just remember to develop your author page on these outlets. If nothing else, be sure you include every potential link for the readers to find you.


Customer relationship concept on white




  • Pages: Don’t have an author page on Facebook? The second you finish reading this post, go and set one up. The author page is critical to getting your information out. When you post, it should do so automatically, but when you post, be sure the post is public. I understand that some people disagree with me on Facebook pages, BUT utilization of Facebook page allows for the opening of a number of numerous other opportunities including:
  • Facebook Page Guest Hosting:
    • One of the funniest things I have seen was when author Alexandrea Weis took over another author’s Facebook page and vice versa. Alexandrea brought along her pet raccoon, Rodney for the ride and he can charm any crowd. It was amazing to watch this author’s fans coo over the Rodman and guess what…Alex expanded her readership base. Easy Peasy! Just doing the same thing that she would do on her own page, doing it on a fellow author’s page. When I saw this, I considered it to be networking at its finest. This is why I preach that networking is critical in any form of publishing, indie or traditional; the ability to do this allows one to expand a base with fellow genre writers.

Street Teams: This is a newer concept, but still one that must be discussed. I have seen two types of street team models.

  • Open Street Teams: Anyone can join the group. The pros of this are that not a whole lot of marketing and management needs to be done. I would NEVER set up my street team this way. Why? Because the cons outweigh the pros.
  • Cons:
  • Anyone can join your group which gives an open invite for other authors to come in and spam their material to your readership base. Trust me, I have seen this and it wasn’t pretty!
  • Authors don’t have the ability to develop a close relationship with their “fan base”. The group is too large. I think of the concept of loyalty groups with the big box stores. The most loyal customers get the most “goodies”. That is too difficult to control in this.
  • Because the group is so large and diverse, members don’t have the ability to develop relationships with one another. This sets up possibilities for misinterpretations and downright ugly scenes.
  • In general, they have a cold feeling to them.
  • Closed Street Teams: I refer to two authors who I have seen do this as a best practice. In this model, the street team is closed and requires an invite by the author.
    • Pros
      • The author controls who comes into the group. Invites are sent to the candidate. Members feel that they have been given a special privilege to be part of the group. The next logical feeling to that is a loyalty to the author.
      • Because the small group size, the author has the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with the members. This allows the author to ask the member for assistance and to secure that assistance much more effectively than simply “throwing out the request” to the masses. For example, Bette Lee Crosby was doing a sale for one of her books. She put the request for her group to “get the word out”
      • On the flipside, not only do the members have the ability to develop a relationship with the author, but with each other. This leads to holding each other accountable, while cheering each other on.
      • The group is set up as secret. No one other than the members are knowledgeable that the group even exists, which allows authors to keep out other authors or those wishing to profit off your hard work.
    • Cons
      • This method is much slower. Invites must be sent out and managed by the author or assistant.
      • Daily interaction takes longer to develop that loyalty. Once it is done, it simply heads into maintenance, but that development time can still be involved.


  • There is so much written on the importance of blogging that I don’t think more needs to be written in this article. My advice is to seek out posts by authors such as Anne R. Allen, myself and, of course, Molly Greene on the importance of running and methods of managing a blog.

Guest Blogging

  • What should not be underestimated is guest blogging on fellow author’s blogs. Not only does it give the author exposure and access to their host’s social media database, but allows for expansion in writing outlets and frequently topics. I have seen author’s write on topics that might not work on their blogs, but is eagerly eaten up on another’s blog. Even within the same genre, readers’ preferences vary and what your readers might thumb their nose at another author’s might eat up. Be open and discuss potential topics. Bottom line: Have Fun! Readers can tell if an author is faking it.

Like the development of your manuscript, the development of a fan base takes as much attention to detail and analysis. With time and practice comes perfection. One of my favorite sayings is that publishing is not a “write it and they will come” industry. Neither is developing your fan base, but worked well, a fan base works as well for the author as a spit polished manuscript.

Have you found anything within these social media sites to develop your readership?

These are the downright basics to developing a fan base. Next week, I will be discussing the other alternatives such as Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube and Google+.

Comment here!


  1. Great article. It reminds us all of the important things to do and not do when it comes to social media. I am looking forward to the next one, especially to learn more about using Pinterest, You tube and Google+. Thanks also for the mention ^-^

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