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Book review: Superfans

Not so long ago on this blog, I described a free download that a blogger I admired was offering to any and all. “Pin and share this complete updated XXX* with your friends and followers,” her post said.

I wanted to help her reach more potential fans while providing my readers with something useful that they’d appreciate.

When the WordPress system notified her of my link to her site, she promptly hopped over to my post and left a comment.

After thanking me for the mention, she gently chastised me for encouraging people to download her gift. She wanted people to either pin it to a Pinterest board or join her membership program to receive a printable version.

My approach to this is to contact the person privately with the feedback. But here’s the key question about this situation: Am I now a superfan?

What do you think? Should I be?

I AM a big fan of Pat Flynn!

On the other hand, I’ve been a Pat Flynn fan for a long time, so I was pretty sure I’d discover a few new-to-me gems in his new book, Superfans:The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build a Successful Business.

I discovered early on through Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast that we have the same business values. That keeps me listening. Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal from him and his podcast guests. They often take listeners behind the scenes, sharing what has and hasn’t worked for their online businesses.

Superfans isn’t Flynn’s first book, but it’s the first he’s written that’s relevant to my business and yours. I was pretty sure I could pull some wisdom out of it for authors like you seeking a community of loyal readers waiting for your next book.

On the surface, it’s more relevant to entrepreneurs than to authors, especially those who don’t yet accept that they’re actually small business owners.

But when you replace the term “fan” with “readers,” you’ll soon see that there’s lots to learn as an author. With authors, it’s all about finding and connecting with people you want to become loyal readers.

What can you learn from this book?

When I read a prescriptive nonfiction book like this, I’m looking at it from a few different perspectives:

  • Is there content that’s helpful to authors?
  • What, if anything, can I apply to my business?
  • How is it written, structured, and organized? I do this as a nonfiction writer and author, not as a reader. Other people’s books often provide insights I can use in my own books.

What follows is my breakdown of these three points. What you take away from this book as a reader will be different, of course, because we’re coming at it with different backgrounds. My goal with this review, though, is to help you decide if this book is a “must read” for you, or a “good to know about, but not what I need right now” kind of book.

Specific nuggets for authors

Regarding that first point about relevance to authors, I think novelists will have to work a little harder to see the takeaways in it for them. They’re there, but they will probably be more obvious to nonfiction authors.

For example, in Chapter 1, we learn the importance of using your fan’s/reader’s language when writing promotional text — which can include your book description and website copy. Novelists need to do this as much as anyone else. That first chapter helps you see how you can uncover the phrases and terms your audience uses.

In Chapter 3, you’ll discover how to use an online community such as a Facebook or LinkedIn group to learn more about how you can help or serve your readers.

The advice in Chapter 6 to invite your readers into your writer’s room, so to speak, “where they can share their opinions on where the story should go” is 100 percent relevant to all authors.

Much of Part 3 will be more interesting to nonfiction authors who use books as part of a larger business. It’s worth reading, but it will be harder for novelists to determine how to leverage the concepts.

Part 4 is about protecting yourself from the dark side of this new world of superfandom. It’s something most of us won’t need to worry about, but it’s a good reminder about why and how you want to protect your privacy and stay safe.

As for my own business working with authors, I was happy to see he recommends certain steps that I already do instinctively. I took plenty of notes, too.

This book’s bones

My third bullet point above relates to how I read books like this as a writer more than a knowledge-seeker. Several things about how the book is written and structured stood out for me.

Superfans is organized logically. The author uses an inverted pyramid graphic to explain the structure in the introduction. Like the book, the pyramid is divided into four parts. Each part moves readers through the fan-building process.

As a writer, three other features stand out for me.

  1. The stories. Flynn draws from his experience, and those of the many entrepreneurs he has interviewed on his podcast, to bring the concepts to life. Every time I thought, “What would this look like in action?”, he showed me.
  2. Exercises at the end of each chapter. They encourage readers to take action on what they’ve just learned.
  3. A helpful bonus online course with worksheets and other tools related to each chapter’s exercises. I always encourage authors to create bonus content that readers can access after providing their name and email address. It’s an excellent way to help you continue the conversation with that reader — and turn that person into a fan, and, eventually a superfan.

I think you’ll appreciate these features, too.

Connecting with your readers

Because I’m a long-time listener to Flynn’s podcast, I was familiar with much of the content already. Still, it didn’t bother me to have it presented in a new format, and in one that allowed me to take notes as I read. (I can’t do that when listening to a podcast while exercising or driving.)

If you’re new to Pat Flynn’s world, you won’t be slowed down by that “Ohhhh, I’ve heard this before” issue. And, if your goal is to better connect with and understand your readers, I think you’ll be satisfied with what you learn.

What are you doing now to better connect with the people who love your books? Please tell us in a comment! 

*I’m protecting the creator’s identity by not sharing the file name

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  1. I love Pat Flynn! Thanks for sharing this insightful review of his book. It was interesting to see that you’re like me. As both an author and business owner, when I read books I’m often looking at the book’s construction as well as its content to see what works and what doesn’t.

    1. Hey Tara, I suppose it’s the curse of the nonfiction author, right? I have to think that novelists do the same thing when reading fiction, too — analyzing structure, etc. Thanks for the feedback!


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