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Strangers To Superfans: A Marketing Guide to the Reader Journey

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From the author of Let's Get Digital and Amazon Decoded, this book will change how you think about marketing. Strangers to Superfans puts you in the shoes of your Ideal Readers, and forces you to view your marketing from their perspective.

*Learn the five stages in the Readers' Journey.
*Identify where your blockages are and how to fix them.
*Optimize each stage to increase conversion.
*Boost sales by making the process more frictionless.
*Build an army of passionate readers who do the selling for you.

It's not enough to know who your Ideal Readers are, you also need to imagine how they feel when a recommendation email arrives containing your cover. You must figure out why they hesitated before clicking the Buy button. And it's crucial to determine why they liked your book enough to finish it... but not sufficiently to recommend it to their friends.

The Reader Journey is a new marketing paradigm that maps out the journey your Ideal Readers take in their transformation from strangers to superfans.

176 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 25, 2018

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About the author

David Gaughran

13 books263 followers
David Gaughran was born in Ireland but now lives in a quaint little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn't increased the amount of time he spends outside the house. He writes historical fiction and science fiction under another name, has helped thousands of authors publish their work through his workshops, blog, and writers' books - Let's Get Digital, Strangers to Superfans, BookBub Ads Expert, and Amazon Decoded - and has also created giant marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Visit DavidGaughran.com to get yourself a free book.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for John Martin.
Author 25 books176 followers
June 16, 2018
The author comes across as an affable and knowledgeable marketer. He deals in commonsense
Profile Image for Krista D..
Author 63 books296 followers
April 23, 2018
I begged and whined and bellyached for an early copy (by which I mean I filled out a form and then pestered him on Twitter). Woot early copy.

tl;dr version: Go buy this book if you want to try to make publishing your full time career, or if it already is (or close enough) and you're feeling you're losing your grasp.

Long review:

I was doing pretty solid for myself in 2015. I was making consistent money, I left my job, and I was feeling very positive about what else was coming my way. Then, I got sick. By the time I came out the other side, it's 2017 and I'm having to relearn how to write. I tried to keep up with how things are changing in the publishing world, but I was really behind and lacked a lot of the energy to do things. My mailing list had grown so stale that people were unsubscribing when I finally emailed them after a 9 month break because they'd forgotten who I was.

I'm still crawling out of that hole, of relearning how to do everything again. I've read a few writing books that made me feel, quite honestly, worse after I was done. Some made me feel guilty for having gotten sick. Some made me feel like my entire career was a mistake. Some made me feel like, unless I could be exactly like ABC, then it was pointless and I was going to fail.

David's book didn't make me feel like that. David's book made me feel like, if I did it once, I could do it again and twice as good.

I've been slowly designing a "career relaunch" plan for 2018-19, slowly putting together what I feel I can do with my lower energy levels, with my backlist, and my future writing. However, it felt really disjointed.

David's book really helped me solidify my notes into a cohesive plan. I'm going to need to re-read the book several more times over this year, as I move along the plan, adjust, and all of that.

His book reminds you that there's no point wasting your time, money, and energy on trying to be discovered by anyone but your Ideal Reader (and he helps you figure that out...and when I figured mine out, a lightbulb went on). He walks you through the entire path of how someone becomes your biggest fan. He helps you with your mailing list stagnation. He helps you think through why people are DNFing your book.

The very end of the book is then dedicated to those of us with a big backlist, to helping us work backwards towards the Ideal Reader. It's a brilliant way of doing it, and something that I'm going to use again and again over the coming year.

I do recommend that you sign up for his mailing list to get his Amazon Decoded book *first* however, since he does assume you know the basics about selling on Amazon. If you don't, or if you aren't sure, I recommend grabbing that book first. Plus, his mailing list sends out a few emails a month helping you with selling your books, which is always a bonus.

This will become my top writing business recommendation book from now on.
Profile Image for Suzannah.
Author 27 books462 followers
February 1, 2020
Revisited for 2020. If you only read one book on marketing your indie books, this would have to be it.


Indispensable. David Gaughran's books and articles are consistently among the best indie-author business help available today. Gaughran walks us through the journey that readers take in discovering, purchasing, and enjoying books - and provides a sensible blueprint for keeping those readers happy and engaged.
Profile Image for Julie Schooler.
Author 15 books23 followers
July 21, 2018
I really wanted to love this book - I thought it was written for me - an author with a few books out who wants more readers. Overall it did provide some new tips and a few useful tools. However I felt that it was quite theoretical without a lot of specifics or case studies where the principles could be applied. Even though I am not new to the marketing game, some of the concepts seemed quite hard to get my head around without a few re-reads, something I don't have time for. And the case study at the end didn't provide specific analysis and seemed a bit odd to add in, like an afterthought. Overall, a relatively quick read and perhaps others may find it more helpful than I did.
Profile Image for Wayne Marinovich.
Author 13 books248 followers
June 19, 2018
Just the kick in the pants I needed. Long been a fan, and subscriber to David’s blog, and this one came along at the perfect time for me. Looking to fire up some flagging novels and this book helped in many ways. Highly recommended
Profile Image for Andy Slinger.
Author 3 books76 followers
February 27, 2021
Helps you focus on the things that matter, not the things you think will matter.

A solid guide to the stages of marketing a book to your 'ideal' reader. It highlights the ones we all know and others which authors often pass on by. If you action all the steps in this book effectively I'm sure you'd have a decent engaged audience. However to create an audience of Super fans I still believe you'll need that special 'je ne said quoi.'
Profile Image for Rinelle Grey.
Author 64 books180 followers
April 20, 2018
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book for review, which was great, as I was really excited to read it. I've loved all of David Gaughran's writing books, and this one was no exception. I read it in 2 days!

Not all of the information in this book was new to me, but the way it tied all the different aspects of marketing a book together, and made me look at where this might be falling apart, was eye opening. I’ve come away with a list of changes I want to make, some new tools to check out, and above all, motivation to do so!
Profile Image for Yesenia Vargas.
Author 31 books328 followers
May 8, 2018
Quick but super-packed with value! This book provided many great insights on how to improve my marketing and turn my potential readers into superfans. Dave does a great job of breaking down the how and why of the reader journey. I first heard him talk about this concept at Smarter Artist Summit 2017, and when he said he was writing a book about the subject, I knew I had to read it. He does not disappoint. Highly recommend this book for helping authors breathe some life into their backlist sales/marketing, improving their conversion from traffic to avid fan, and more.
Profile Image for Andre Gonzalez.
Author 34 books230 followers
April 3, 2020
A must read for any indie author looking to take their career to the next level!
Profile Image for Jaka Tomc.
Author 11 books43 followers
April 25, 2018
After reading Amazon Decoded and Let's Get Digital, I was eager to get my hands on David's newest book. I was expecting to learn new ways of presenting my books to the right readers. And I did.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced writer, Strangers to Superfans will open some new doors for you. And you never know what lies behind them. David gets you prepared for the journey of your life, if you choose to take it.
Profile Image for Sarra Cannon.
Author 59 books2,157 followers
May 9, 2018
A Must-Read For Serious Indie Authors!!!

This book was incredible! Now that I've finished, I plan to immediately go back through the bits I've highlighted and start making my plan for implementing these good ideas. There's no doubt this is a tough and constantly-shifting market, and it's a relief to get such a clear (and often humorous) explanation of the reader's journey. Thank you, David, for giving us such great information!
Profile Image for DoodleBug.
279 reviews
May 30, 2018
Useful for what it was, but it felt as if the author glossed over a lot of the nitty gritty in favor of advice to "fix" this or that, without giving a lot of specifics. Examples at each stage in the solution section would've been far more helpful than the two grossly over-simplified "case studies" at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 24 books550 followers
August 20, 2018
This is unlike any writing resource I've read before in the simple fact its focus isn't on the writing process, but rather the reader experience. Just the wake up call I needed to remember why I wanted to write in the first place. To tell the kind of stories I would want to read. Includes fantastic info and tips for marketing and not being a self-centered artist.
Profile Image for Kate M. Colby.
Author 18 books76 followers
July 17, 2018
An interesting and useful look at book marketing from the reader's perspective. Definitely a book I will reference again as I prepare to launch a new series.
Profile Image for Rita Monticelli.
Author 19 books135 followers
April 25, 2018
Scroll down for the English version.

Il viaggio del lettore

Questo libro conferma ciò che già pensavo del suo autore. A differenza di altri che pubblicano libri sul self-publishing, Gaughran riduce al minimo gli aspetti autoreferenziali, portando anche esempi concreti di altri autori e cercando di prendere in considerazione le problematiche di un autore qualsiasi. Ovviamente si basa sulla propria esperienza, ma non necessariamente come autore. Infatti, più avanti nel libro scopriamo che lavora come consulente per un altro autore (con caratteristiche completamente diverse dalle sue, poiché scrive fantascienza e pubblica in esclusiva su Amazon), inoltre è costantemente interessato a ricevere feedback da altri, poiché avere sempre del contenuto interessante da proporre nella newsletter fa parte della sua strategia.

Un’altra sua caratteristica è che i suoi libri non sono un elenco schematico di fatti più o meno noti intervallati da tentativi di motivare gli altri autori, in cui abbondano elenchi, schemi e figure che ne aumentano la lunghezza, e ripetizioni sia nello stesso libro che in altri simili. I suoi libri sono solo testuali e sono scritti in una prosa discorsiva che li rende davvero “avvincenti”, senza dare l’impressione che ti stia prendendo per i fondelli. Riesce a sviluppare gli argomenti in un modo che non sembra affatto schematico (ma ovviamente dietro c’è un outlining ben preciso), come se ti stesse facendo un discorso a braccio. È sintetico, arriva dritto al punto e dice chiaramente come stanno le cose (anche quando si tratta di cose non piacevoli). Per questo motivo i suoi libri sono corti, ma non certo perché ci siano poche informazioni.

Per via di questa sua peculiarità nello scrivere, forse il modo migliore per fruire di questo suo libro è prendere nota dei passaggi interessanti durante la lettura o magari mettere un segnalibro sul Kindle per poi tornarci in seguito. Così il lettore si crea il suo schema personale che elenca solo quegli aspetti che gli sono utili, invece di doversi adattare allo schema e agli elenchi puntati di altri.

Ma veniamo al contenuto.
Partiamo proprio dal titolo del libro: da sconosciuti a superfan. Il libro parla proprio di questo: in che modo uno sconosciuto arriva a un libro, decide di comprarlo, lo legge (fino alla fine, cosa tutt’altro che scontata) e magari ne compra un altro e/o decide di iscriversi a una mailing list e/o parla agli altri del libro, in pratica diventa un superfan. Il cuore del libro non è spiegare come fare in modo che ciò accada, ma proprio spiegare come accade, vale a dire quale è il viaggio del lettore e in quale parte del viaggio dei nostri potenziali lettori c’è un problema tale da interromperlo.
Il problema, secondo Gaughran, non è la discoverability, poiché chiunque può “comprare traffico” (indirizzare della pubblicità) verso la pagina del prodotto di un libro (si concentra soprattutto su Amazon), bensì inviarci il traffico giusto, cioè scegliere il target giusto, fargli trovare la giusta accoglienza, il libro giusto che abbia voglia non solo di acquistare, ma anche di iniziare a leggere, finire di leggere (il 40% dei lettori abbandona un libro iniziato) e indurlo a fare delle cose dopo la lettura.
In realtà, se ci pensiamo bene, dice tutta una serie di cose che già sappiamo, ma lo fa in una maniera tale da farcele guardare da una nuova prospettiva e dare a tutte queste un senso logico.

Dopo aver descritto il viaggio del lettore, fa un analisi dei sintomi che permettono a noi autori di capire in quali fasi di questo viaggio stiamo sbagliando.
Stiamo scegliendo un target sbagliato per la pubblicità? Ci sono dei problemi nella descrizione, nella copertina, nel prezzo? C’è qualche problema dentro il libro? O nelle sezioni poste all’inizio o alla fine?
Infine cerca di spiegarci come risolvere questi problemi. Questa ovviamente è la parte più corta, poiché lui è costretto a parlare in generale e, invece, ogni libro è un caso a sé, ma riesce comunque a fornire dei consigli utili.
Il più importante è quello di muoversi al contrario nel sistemare i problemi che possono bloccare il viaggio del lettore: cioè partire dal migliorare il libro, poi spostarsi alla pagina del prodotto e infine sistemare le pubblicità che usiamo per mandare potenziali lettori verso il libro.

Nel complesso il mio giudizio è molto positivo (da qui le cinque stelle), perché comunque Gaughran è onesto, non promette formule magiche e dice chiaramente che c’è tanto lavoro da fare e che non è affatto così facile farlo. Inoltre il libro parla effettivamente di ciò che è promesso nel titolo, né più né meno. E infine è ben fatto, sotto ogni punto di vista, e scritto molto bene.
La sua utilità per migliorare le vendite di un libro è limitata all’autore che pubblica sul mercato anglosassone (e preferibilmente in esclusiva su Amazon), però è sicuramente uno strumento molto interessante per comprendere le modalità con cui un lettore sconosciuto diventa un fan e individuare i punti deboli presenti nei nostri prodotti editoriali che mettono a rischio il suo viaggio.

Una versione più approfondita di questa recensione, contenente ulteriori riflessioni sull’evoluzione del self-publishing nel mercato anglofono che però tarda ad arrivare su quello italiano, è disponibile sul mio blog: www.anakina.net/dblog/articolo.asp?id...

The reader’s journey

This book confirms what I already thought of the author. Unlike others who publish books on self-publishing, Gaughran minimises the self-referential aspects, also bringing concrete examples of other authors and trying to take into consideration the problems of any author. Of course, this book is based on his experience, but not just as a self-publisher. In fact, later in the book we discover that he works as a consultant for another independent author (with completely different characteristics from his, like writing science fiction and publishing exclusively on Amazon), moreover he is constantly interested in receiving feedback from others, because always having new interesting content to be proposed in his newsletter is part of his strategy.

Another characteristic of his is that his books are not a schematic list of more or less known facts interspersed with attempts to motivate the other authors, in which lists, schemes, and figures that increase their length, and repetitions both in the same book that in other similar ones abound. His books are just text and are written in a discursive prose that makes them really “compelling”, without giving the impression that you are somehow fooled. He manages to develop the topics in a way that does not seem schematic at all (but of course there is a very precise outlining behind them), as if he is improvising He is concise, goes straight to the point and clearly says how things are (even when it comes to unpleasant things). For this reason his books are short, but certainly not because there is little information.

Because of this peculiarity in writing, perhaps the best way to make use of this book is take note of interesting passages while reading or perhaps put a bookmark on your Kindle and then come back later. Thus, the reader creates their personal scheme, which lists only those aspects that are useful to them, instead of having to adapt to the scheme and bulleted lists of others.

But let’s get to the content.
First of all, the title of the book: Strangers to Superfans. The book talks about this: how a stranger arrives at a book, decides to buy it, reads it (until the end, which is anything but obvious) and perhaps buys another one and/or decides to subscribe to a mailing list and/or talk to others about the book, i.e. becomes a superfan. The core of the book is not to explain how to make this happen, but to explain exactly how it happens, that is to say what the reader’s journey is and in which part of our potential readers’ journey there is a problem that can stop it.
The problem, according to Gaughran, is not discoverability, since anyone can “buy traffic” (direct advertising) to the product page of a book (he focuses mainly on Amazon), but send there the right traffic, namely to choose the right target, let them find the right welcome, the right book they want not only to buy, but also to start reading, finish reading (40% of readers abandons a book they’re reading) and induce them to do things after reading.
In fact, if we think about it, he says a whole series of things that we already know, but he does so in a way that makes us look at them from a new perspective and give all these a logical sense.

After describing the reader’s journey, he makes an analysis of the symptoms that allow us authors to understand in which phases of this journey we are mistaken.
Are we choosing a wrong advertising target? Are there any problems in the description, on the cover, in the price? Is there any problem inside the book? Or in the front or end matter?
Finally, he tries to explain us how to fix these problems. This of course is the shortest part, because he is forced to speak in general and, instead, each book is a case in itself, but still he manages to provide useful advice.
The most important one is to move backwards when fixing the problems that may block the reader’s journey: that is, starting from improving the book, then moving to the product page and finally arranging the advertisements we use to send potential readers to the book.

In any case my opinion on this book is very positive (hence the five stars), because Gaughran is honest, he doesn’t promise magic formulas and clearly says that there is so much work to do and that it isn’t at all so easy to do it. Moreover, the book actually talks about what is promised in the title, neither more nor less. And finally it’s well done, from every point of view, and very well written.
Its usefulness to improve the sales of a book is limited to the author who publishes in the English-speaking market (and preferably exclusively on Amazon), but it is certainly a very interesting tool to understand how an unknown reader becomes a fan and identify the weaknesses in your editorial products that put their journey at risk, even if you publish in a different market.

A longer version of this review containing some considerations on the evolution of the English-speaking self-publishing market is available on: http://ladyanakina.blogspot.com/2018/...
Profile Image for Tammie Painter.
Author 42 books89 followers
March 22, 2019
I enjoy what David Gaughran has to say in interviews and in his newsletters, and Let's Get Digital was so full of useful information that I was REALLY looking forward to reading this. However, this book never delivered any concrete information, only general ideas that I'd already heard before from David (not that those ideas aren't great, and if you've never heard or read anything of his, this book will give you wonderful mindset tips).

In one section, the section I was most eager to delve into, the book promises to help you evaluate where you might be misstepping on the Stranger to Superfan Road and I was hoping for some of those terrific Gaughran methods of scrutiny, but the "tips" in that part of the book were incredibly (and disappointingly) vague.

Still, as I said, if you've never heard any Reader's Journey info before, you should read this book, but if you've already gleaned Reader's Journey info from other sources, I'd say to skip this and move on to Gaughran's other writing/publishing books.
Profile Image for Nazri Noor.
Author 41 books270 followers
July 25, 2018
I don't think it's surprising to state that Gaughran is an exceptional writer. The book succeeds at being educational while still maintaining his sense of humor throughout. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times, which I really wasn't expecting from a marketing book, of all things.

What holds this back from being a better read for me was the lack of actionable content. Gaughran's advice essentially boils down to "look at what you're doing and fix what's wrong with it," with not much in the way of concrete recommendations. It feels more like a collection of vague hints than a proper guide, which is what the subtitle purports it to be.

His illustration of the reader's journey is quite useful, but it feels as if 80% of the book is presenting and rehashing the problems and potential roadblocks, while offering little in the way of remedying them. It ended with a couple of case studies that felt rushed and unspecific. Entertaining, but ultimately, not the most instructional of Gaughran's books.
Profile Image for Debbie Johansson.
Author 6 books41 followers
December 29, 2020
This is a very helpful book for indie authors and is a great introduction to book marketing, as well as for authors who are experiencing problems. David has a common-sense approach and I really appreciate his insights as he focuses on the reader. As a new indie author, I will be applying his techniques to my own marketing and referring to this book on a regular basis to help keep me on track.
Profile Image for Travis Heermann.
Author 64 books184 followers
August 3, 2020
Lots of useful stuff here for the indie author trying to build their brand.
I'd have given this five stars, but there were some sections that were heavy on big pronouncements and light on specifics. The theories and approach, however, are sound.
Profile Image for Melissa Pearl.
Author 60 books845 followers
December 12, 2021
Informative and entertaining

This book is packed with great info and written with humor. It’s a very entertaining read and I’m looking forward to putting some of these principals into place.

Thank you, David.
Profile Image for Lori.
Author 15 books9 followers
June 3, 2022
This book has small nuggets of advice but no concert steps that tell you what to do to fix the issues that are pointed out over and over and over in the book. A lot of repeat.
Profile Image for Aubree Deimler.
Author 3 books37 followers
July 19, 2022
Having a background in marketing, this one was in alignment with strategies I’ve used in niching down and speaking to your target audience, but was nice to see it applied to selling books. Helpful, witty and to the point.
Profile Image for Isabella May.
Author 14 books113 followers
November 28, 2020
Informative and fun

All of which makes learning about the marketing side of self-publishing easy and enjoyable. I recommend every indie author snaps this one up!
Profile Image for Heather Myers.
Author 103 books692 followers
August 25, 2020
Great book

This is a great book about how to find your superstars and how to troubleshoot when you aren't. It's an excellent resource for writers!
Profile Image for Jo-Ann Carson.
Author 33 books319 followers
December 15, 2018
You've heard of "the hero's journey," a term coined by Joseph Campbell, describing the epic tale of the heroes in stories. Gaughran uses the journey metaphor to describe  "the reader's journey," from the moment she discovers your book until she becomes a superfan. He details a six-stage process (i.e., discovery, visibility, consideration, purchase, and advocacy). While most writers, particularly new ones, focus on the first stage--getting noticed--he advises paying attention to each stage so that we keep readers interested in our books and so they tell other readers how great they are. Each stage, he claims, gets trickier.

Gaughran advises writing to market, knowing your genre, targeting your readers and nurturing your relationship with them and using the correct metadata to make your book stand out. 

I highly recommend this book for all authors.
Profile Image for Michael Williams.
Author 23 books69 followers
December 28, 2020
Excellent, thorough advice!

If you want to know the key elements to improve in order to increase readership and rankings, this book has them. It won’t tell you what words to put in your book, but it will tell you the parts of your career’s engine that need to be kept tuned.
Profile Image for Dan.
Author 62 books407 followers
July 19, 2018
I read everything David Gaughran writes. He's brilliant and entertaining, and he gets down and dirty with statistics/data before he offers advice.

Unfortunately, Strangers to Superfans falls short of his previous excellent books, and even his blog. The advice is rather general and sadly lacks specific steps to take. The case studies at the end of the book also lack detail and seem to exist as filler. Hopefully, a second edition is written with more detailed advice included.
Profile Image for Ginger Cain.
Author 12 books14 followers
October 25, 2020
Good info and helpful

Better than I expected and I learned a couple cool tips I hadn’t been using before. Gandalf Dave has been consistent with solid nonfiction that’s been helpful for me.
Profile Image for Stan James.
218 reviews4 followers
May 30, 2018
This is a good book. It's a short book. You should read it.

The End.

Okay, I should probably elaborate a bit. If you've read David Gaughran's two other books on self-publishing, Let's Get Digital and Amazon Decoded, then Strangers to Superfans will nicely complete the trilogy, and unlike some trilogies, the Shire doesn't get burned to the ground in the process.

Superfans is less nuts and bolts than the other books, discussing some of the intangibles of self-publishing, focusing on the potential pitfalls (the failure matrix, as Gaughran calls it) in trying to capture and hold readers, then turn them into willing promoters of your work. In this sense, the book is going to be more useful to those with one or more books ready to be set loose into the sea of millions of other self-published efforts. Amazon is once again the focal point of discussion and rightly so, as it utterly dominates the ebook market, but Gaughran doesn't ignore other markets, and even highlights how they can present unique opportunities given their smaller size.

And while there may be fewer specifics in this book compared to his others, there is still plenty of sensible advice on advertising (he is a strong advocate on newsletters), positioning and categorizing your books, along with tips on how to hook the reader at the end to keep them engaged and wanting more.

Overall, anyone thinking of self-publishing would do well to read all three of Gaughran's books, in the order of release: Let's Get Digital, Amazon Decoded, and Strangers to Superfans. There's no guarantee his advice will make you rich, but your odds will certainly be better. As a bonus, his writing style is so utterly friendly and engaging you can't help but feel more excited to self-publish afterward.

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