How To Use The Reader Journey To Create Superfans

The Reader Journey is a new way of looking at book marketing and you can learn all about it in my book Strangers to Superfans – which can really help you understand your readers and how to speak with them, and how to sway them with your marketing messages.

I’ve spent the last twelve months researching and testing and experimenting, and then organizing all this information into a structure which will help you understand exactly who you are writing for, and how to attract them.

But also how to treat them after you have convinced them to buy. How to turn them into the kind of superfans that will do the selling for you.

So… what is The Reader Journey and why should you care, let alone listen to me jabber on about it for 140 pages?

I looked at the journey readers take from being completely unaware of you and your work to becoming its evangelists, and identified five key stages in this metamorphosis – Discovery, Visibility, Consideration, Purchase, and Advocacy.

  • The Discovery stage is the very beginning of the Reader Journey, when your Ideal Reader doesn’t know who you are and has never seen one of your book covers.
  • Visibility is when your Ideal Reader is tangentially aware of you. Perhaps your latest book appeared under the Also Boughts of a popular title in your niche, or you were in a deals newsletter they received.
  • At the Consideration stage, a purchase is being weighed, and your Ideal Reader will either be seduced by your cover, price, and blurb, or will be distracted by the ads Amazon is plastering everywhere.
  • Purchase means you have their money, but will your book sit unopened on their Kindle for months? Or will the reader finish the book they started (warning: most don’t!).
  • Finally, Advocacy is what you are truly chasing, rather than those reader eyeballs or even dollars – an army of superfans who do the selling for you.

When I delved into each stage, I discovered a few things. First, the challenges at each stage are remarkably different, and we tend to almost exclusively reach for Discovery solutions, even if we have a very different problem. This rarely ends well and it might be the biggest mistake that authors are making right now – throwing more and more traffic into a borked system.

This outsized focus on Discovery (moar traffic!) also contributes to another issue: what I call the escalating challenge of conversion. I argue that each of these stages is actually trickier, yet we put most of our effort into the first.

Superfans is far from conceptually focused though. After showing how to get a better idea of your own Ideal Reader, and explaining The Reader Journey they undergo, it quickly moves on to optimization – giving you actionable steps to convert more readers at each stage.

The solutions for each stage are very different too, ranging from traffic generation to metadata to presentation to (here be wolves!) possible issues with your story, and then the most essential part of all: nurturing of that nascent reader relationship so The End turns into the beginning of something else.

Superfans also helps you manage your ever-growing backlist – giving you something called The Failure Matrix to help you quickly identify where the problem is in your own Reader Journey so you can move fast to rectify it, and don’t mess with the things which are working well for you.

I hope you enjoy Superfans! The initial reaction has been wonderful, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all put this approach into practice, and start viewing your marketing from the POV of your Ideal Reader instead.

Check it out here!

Strangers to Superfans the reader journey
David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

19 Replies to “How To Use The Reader Journey To Create Superfans”

  1. Thanks for your QUICK reply! David, I have bought and read all of your publishing books, and I definitely recommend them to my clients. Will again with this one. I’m also going to share your response here with him.

    We’ve got our work cut out.


  2. Help! I’m a book designer who also offers a little bit of publishing advice to new to self-publishing authors. I have one now who’s sold LOTS of books to his clients in home decoration (previously by big league publisher), but he unfortunately got these home decor clients/readers to write reviews for his YA adventure book. BAD. Also boughts all show his other books—the readers are old ladies!

    Good new is he has more YA adventures in the series ready to go, but not released. I know we have to NOT LET him get those old ladies to review again—and market instead to his actual target of kids and teens. But is it impossible to hope that book one will somehow escape the bad/now invisible spot it’s in?

    How? What do we do?

    1. I’m not going to BS you, cleaning out bad also boughts is HARD. So much that I’m almost loathe to give advice. Almost!

      I’d suggest:

      1. Not telling those lovely old ladies when Book 2 comes out. This is non-negotiable. He can tell them one month, 6 weeks, 10 weeks down the line when proper also boughts on Book 2 are firmly attached. Seriously, this is absolutely non-negotiable. Get him to agree to this before even divulging the rest of the plan.

      2. Market Book 2 exclusively to the right crowd, especially in that crucial initial period before Also Boughts attach. How to do that is a question for another day, we have bigger problems right now, namely:

      3. The only way to clear out those Also Boughts on Book 1 is with brute force. A lot of sales or a lot of downloads. I’d recommend running a 99c sale on Book 1 when Book 2 is launched and only pushing it strictly at a YA crowd. Especially lean on reader sites which have a genre split.

      4. That might do it if you get enough sales. More likely you’ll kind of half clean it up and need to go again, harder. So when Book 3 launches, put Book 1 free, and Book 2 at 99c, and advertise Book 1 hard to (strictly) YA adventure readers.

      And in the meantime you can run some low level AMS ads (maybe even dabble in a little BB and FB if you know that system) to slowly start attaching the right books to his. That won’t change anything overnight, but will provide a baseline of good data that the above can really build on.

  3. I enjoyed reading “Strangers to Superfans”.
    And I will certainly plan my next release better, especially as I’ll be launching a pen name with that one… so hard to wait for the also-boughts. Messed up the ones for the latest release… *sigh*

  4. Hi David! Many thanks for this! You first inspired me with Lets Get Digital so I look forward to reading your new book.
    A quick question: if one is just starting out with the self-publishing journey and wants to find a band of eager fans for their work, will this book be helpful?
    Thank you again for your advice and all the support you provide to authors.

    1. No doubt that the best one of mine for those starting out is Let’s Get Digital – that’s a huge book which comprehensively covers every aspect of publishing your work to a professional level and taking your first marketing steps to build an audience, while also breaking down the state of the industry today and what you need to know about the business of publishing..
      Strangers to Superfans is aimed at more experienced self-publishers – and those with a few titles out and some time under their belt will get the most out of it. For sure. But if you have a handle on the basics already, then you might want to check it out. Perhaps read the sample and see what kind of vibe you get and whether it speaks to you personally and where you are at right now.
      Amazon Decoded sits somewhere in the middle, perhaps. It’s very focused on one thing: how the Kindle Store works, and how you need to tweak your marketing campaigns to take advantage of the algorithms. You will definitely need to have ran a few marketing campaigns to get the most value out of it. On the other hand, it’s really short, also free, and will teach you something you really need to know at some point!

  5. Pre-ordered!! I’m excited to read it!


    Arial 😀

    Arial Burnz

    USAToday Bestselling Author

    That’s spelled “Arial” like the font…not “Ariel” like the mermaid 😉


    1. Phew! Several times during these launches I’ve received heart-attack inducing messages saying my Buy button had disappeared… when it turned out they were in the Kindle app on their iPhone where no buy buttons appear.

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