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January 15, 2024
By Alesha Brown
You’re not Beyoncé—but you can learn from her marketing strategies

This article has very little to do with being a fan of Beyoncé. Instead, it has everything to do with successful marketing.

Okay, I hear some of you saying, “That sounds great but I’m not Beyoncé. How would that even work for me as an author?”

I am so glad you asked! Here’s how it breaks down in the author’s world in seven steps.

Step one: build a community of fans. You need to establish your own Beyhive by creating a constant flow of content that is relatable through various stages of your reader’s journey: Identify your target audience and create relatable content that speaks to their interests and needs. Engage with your readers through social media platforms like Goodreads, blogs, and newsletters. Respond to comments and foster a sense of community.

Case study: Colleen Hoover. Hoover, who self-published her romance novels before being picked up by traditional publishers, has dominated bestseller lists in recent years. Thanks to her active presence on social media (Hoover has more than 1.4 million TikTok followers and 2 million followers on Instagram) and her enthusiastic engagement with fans, she’s built an empire. She even has a nickname coined by her readers: “CoHo.”

Step two: share your journey. Beyoncé has released seven documentaries that give fans a backstage look at the work it takes to plan and execute a world tour. You can use this as an author: Document your writing process, research, and milestones. Share snippets of your work and personal anecdotes to create anticipation among your readers. Consider creating a regular behind-the-scenes series on social media platforms, YouTube, or your website, like authors such as Brandon Sanderson and V.E. Schwab do.

Case study: John Green. Green vlogged about his writing process and personal life on YouTube, creating a connection with his audience. He openly discussed his struggles and successes during the creation of books such as The Fault in Our Stars. Fans felt personally invested in his books, driving massive sales and making him a household name among young readers.

Step three: incorporate the people in your life into your work. How many people melted at watching Blue Ivy perform with her mother? Your fans love to see you move and operate as more than just a party of one. Collaborate with fellow authors, artists, or influencers to expand your reach, and showcase the collaborative process, whether it’s co-writing a book, contributing to an anthology, or featuring guest posts on your blog.

"We all enjoy a great experience, so don’t forget to sprinkle yours with a little magic."
Case study: Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. Clare and Black co-wrote the Iron Trial series, combining their fan bases and writing styles to create a unique magical world. The collaboration expanded their readership, and fans of one author were introduced to the work of the other, leading to increased book sales for both authors.

Step four: encourage audience participation. Don’t just have your audience watch you—allow them to interact. Beyoncé nailed this during the Renaissance Tour, when she asked attendees to wear silver on certain nights to create a “shimmering human disco ball.” Organize interactive events such as q&a sessions (like those of Roxane Gay), book-themed contests, or live chats. Encourage readers to share their thoughts and interpretations of your work.

Case study: Neil Gaiman. Gaiman hosts live Twitter q&a sessions and interacts with fans directly, answering questions and sharing insights. His active engagement keeps fans excited about his upcoming projects, building anticipation and loyalty.

Step five: thank your supporters. Beyoncé never fails to do this. Always thank those who support you. This is a simple tactic you can incorporate into your own strategy: publicly thank readers on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, extend exclusive offers (discounts, bonus content, limited-time access) to your email or follower lists, or include handwritten notes with orders to express your appreciation.

Case study: Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson regularly thanks his fans in video updates and includes heartfelt acknowledgments in his books. Fans feel appreciated and valued, leading to a strong, supportive community around his work.

Step six: create magic. We all enjoy a great experience, so don’t forget to sprinkle yours with a little magic. Ensure that your service or product is worth the investment. If you create a magical experience that makes people feel good, they will come back time and time again, often alongside new followers. Focus on creating immersive book covers, compelling blurbs, and engaging first chapters to captivate readers from the start. Organize virtual or in-person book launch events on Zoom and Crowdcast. Incorporate interactive elements, unique themes, activities, and guest appearances to make your book launches unforgettable.

Case study: Marissa Meyer. Meyer’s book launch events for the Lunar Chronicles series included cosplay contests, themed decorations, and interactive activities, immersing readers in her fictional universe. Readers attended events not just for the books but for the experience, creating a memorable connection with the author and her stories.

Step seven: have your next offering ready. It was no coincidence that Beyoncé concluded her groundbreaking tour with her new documentary announcement—waiting until a few months later could have broken the momentum, a multi-million-dollar mistake. Always have your next project in mind. Whether it’s a sequel, a spinoff series, or a completely new genre, keep your readers excited about what’s coming next, and utilize the momentum of your current work to promote upcoming releases. Never speak at any event without an offering ready. I use these opportunities to create new products, from workbooks and courses to webinars and books. While you are providing a “free opt-in,” use this prime time for at least one or two paid offers (upsells).

Case study: George R.R. Martin. Martin consistently teases upcoming books and novellas, keeping fans engaged with his evolving universe, even between major releases. Anticipation for his next work remains high, ensuring strong sales upon release.

These case studies and actionable steps demonstrate how authors have successfully applied marketing principles like Beyoncé’s to their own platforms. By following these examples, you can strengthen your brand, broaden your reach, and foster lasting relationships with your readers in the competitive literary landscape.

Alesha Brown is an entrepreneur, a book and magazine publisher, a consultant, and the CEO of Fruition Publishing Concierge Services.