Irina Chan

I Finished My Book.
Now What?

A Novice Author's Journey to Find Readership

Chapter 1. How People Become Writers
Chapter 2. Who Are Your Readers?
Chapter 3. Where Are the Readers You Need?
Chapter 4. The “Caterpillar” Stage
Phase 1. A Micro-Community
Chapter 5. The “Chrysalis” Stage
Phase 2. Mass Attraction of New Readers
Chapter 6. The “Butterfly” Stage
Phase 3. The Publication of Your First Book
Chapter 7. Fixing Your Mistakes
Chapter 8. The Right Attitude
Bonuses in Lieu of a Conclusion


Hi! My name is Irina Chan, and I help novice authors find readers, gain recognition, and earn their first profits from book sales.

If you Google, “How can I find readers?” you will be presented with a bunch of articles containing more or less the same tips:

– run social media accounts

– create your own website

– take part in communities and groups

– socialize with other authors

– participate in writing contests

– run giveaways

– work with libraries and bookstores

– publish your work on self-publishing platforms, etc.

You have already seen all of this, and these tips aren’t helping you.

“But why?” you wonder. “Is it all a lie? Maybe something is wrong with me? Maybe my situation is atypical? Or is my book too different from other people’s? Or maybe all these tips are targeted toward writers of particular genres and just don’t apply to me?”

You don’t understand how to apply these tips in practice, because you don’t see a connection between your situation and the suggested approaches. For example, the tip to post something on social media seems pointless if you don’t have any followers. Who would you be making the effort for?

As a result, it feels like you are stuck in a Catch-22.

The source of this confusion is this: writers are at such different stages of their writing careers that giving them all general advice is the same as asking all the students at a school to solve the same difficult problem.

Some will understand what they have to do right away, while others have no chance at all. Not because they’ll never get it, but because novice authors “haven’t covered this material” yet.

It will be much easier for you to find the advice you need if you set the problem up in a different way: “I want to understand what stage I’m at right now, and how I can build a successful author career from this point.”

You still need to answer several critical questions:

  • What kind of writer are you? How can you explain to people who don’t know you what exactly you write and in what format? 
  • What kind of readers are you looking for? Of course, you can look for people who love books “in general,” but not just anybody will be a good fit for you.
  • What exactly is your end goal after you’ve found your readers?

Depending on what stage of your author journey you are at, your answers may be completely different.

For example, readers for a writer who doesn’t yet have a single finished work, and readers for a writer who’s completed ten novels are very different people. They are found in different places, and the results of interacting with them will differ widely as well.

What This Book Will Give You

After reading this book, you will be able to determine:

  • what stage you are at in your writing career
  • what type of readers you need to look for, and where to find them
  • what type of results you should aim for so that everything is in top shape going forward

My job is to lead you to the door into the world of professional authorship and show you how to open it.

We will examine the stages of becoming an author and analyze how they differ from each other in terms of finding an audience.

I will tell you what reader attraction methods are out there, and which ones should be used at each stage. I will also describe common mistakes made by many novice authors.

After that, I will offer you a step-by-step plan of action.

Our goal is to build your fan base; in other words, to gather people around you who will be genuinely interested in your work, regularly buy your books, write reviews for them, stay in touch with you, and wait for your next work.

If you have already gotten published but still haven’t found your readers, don’t worry! Read this book to the end, and you will know what to do next. If you have written a truly good work and are prepared to put in the effort to help find its readers, everything will work out.

Chapter 1. How People Become Writers

Becoming a writer is a very alluring idea. You sit in silence in your own home and do what you love best: telling stories. Meanwhile, you have millions of fans who send you letters of thanks and a publisher who can’t wait for your next book to be finished so that they can pay you for it.

This idealistic picture has been shaped by numerous movies, in which even the least successful writers ultimately finish their books and instantly become rich and famous. 

However, when a novice author tries to fulfill this dream, he or she comes face-to-face with reality, and this is often a very painful experience. It’s like the author turns into a ghost: Nobody hears or sees him, and whenever he shows anybody his work, people just shrug and keep on walking.

It turns out that finding a literary agent, let alone a publisher, is practically “mission impossible:” novices either get no replies at all or get rejected.

Meanwhile, self-publishing is an alternate reality that you don’t even know how to approach. To gain any kind of traction, you have to do so much that it just scares you off and discourages you. Nobody warned you that book promotion was the writer’s job. 

At the same time, it feels like hundreds of other people are turning into successful writers right before your eyes. 

“Just yesterday, no one had heard of this lady,” the author thinks, “and today she’s a world-class star, and her book is being turned into a series. That’s simply unfair! My book is every bit as good.”

Obviously, there are some kind of special tricks that allow you to find readers. Others manage it somehowand fast! Maybe they just got lucky?

How Can You Become a Famous Author Quickly?

The main thing we need to remember is: There is no accidental success in the book business. It only looks like a novice author can become a star out of nowhere. If she’s achieved success, that means she had the necessary resources to do so. Onlookers don’t know what’s happened in the author’s past or what kind of effort she’s invested into her growth.

I take an eager interest in the biographies of successful writers and collect the methods and tricks they use. In every time period, different paths have led to success, and the things that worked one hundred or even twenty years ago probably wouldn’t work today. The world, people’s expectations, and communication methods are constantly changing, and so is the book business.

Let’s examine the options for “quick success” that exist today:

The Locomotive

If you find someone who will “pull you along” toward success, then it’s possible that you’ll wake up one day and find yourself famous. 

Suppose you have a celebrity / television personality / blogger with ten million subscribers among your acquaintances. This lovely person wants to help you and begins promoting your book in every possible way, simultaneously teaching you and helping you form your own fan base. 

He already has a large audience or access to an audiencethis is the very resource that can allow you to become famous in the shortest possible time.

For example, for Joe Hill, Steven King’s son, the doors of publishing houses were wide open simply because his father was one of the most famous authors in the world. With this kind of help available, it’s much easier to master the literary craft, get nominated for a prestigious award, and make your book a bestseller.

This in no way diminishes Joe’s merits or the quality of his work. The books still need to be well-written, and promotion still needs to be planned, organized, and paid for. It’s just that an author who uses someone else’s experience doesn’t need to spend time building connections and a reputation. He will, by definition, make far fewer mistakes and, consequently, he won’t have to fix them and recover after failures, which are inevitable for others.


If you have enough cash to buy success, you can make a serious investment in advertising your books.

But there is an important detail here. You need to know exactly how to spend the money so that it brings your desired results. Moreover, you need to understand very clearly what kind of result it is that you want. My experience suggests that many well-to-do authors have serious problems with this.

For example, one of my clients invested in advertising her work over a period of several years and thought she was doing it successfully: After all, her books were selling. But when she calculated her promotion expenses and her earnings, it turned out that not only was she not making anything, but she was actually working at a loss.

The problem was that she hadn’t set up a system for retaining readers: In other words, she wasn’t trying to sell her subsequent books to them. As a result, the money earned from sales was simply funding the next round of advertising. This author just didn’t know how the author business actually works.

Another client of mine decided to place all the marketing on the shoulders of professionals. His book was edited, a cover was designed for it, a blurb was written for it, and it was placed on various self-publishing platforms.

Obviously, all this work didn’t come cheap. But for some reason, it didn’t result in sales.

When the author reproached the marketers, they replied, “But you were in charge of the whole process and approved our work at every stage. We did everything just the way you wanted it.”

The problem was that the author made decisions about the presentation of his book based on his personal preferences. He had no idea what fans of the genre actually wanted. He had neither the necessary knowledge nor the experience.

In short, before spending your money, you need to gain knowledge. You won’t be able to select competent experts if you have no idea what they are supposed to be able to do, what they can accomplish and what they can’t, and how to evaluate the quality of their work.

In this situation, the resources that can propel your book to the bestseller list are your budget and knowledge  of book marketing. If a writer decides that she doesn’t need this knowledge, she will simply waste the money or get a small uptick in sales that won’t come close to covering the advertising costs.  

The minute she stops paying the PR specialists and marketers, sales and readers will dwindle.

End of introductory passage