QOTW: Connecting with Readers

7 Jan


This week, the question comes from authorguy, who asks:

You’ve answered how you think we should connect with writers. How do we connect with readers?

~~~

The first step to connecting with readers is to write stories they enjoy. Nobody wants to be a fan of an author if they don’t enjoy your work. My story was successful on FP because people gravitated towards a unique idea and then stuck around because they enjoyed the world/characters.

The second step is interaction. This one is extremely tricky because you have to walk a fine line:

DON’T advertise incessantly. Don’t ask for reader feedback all the time (it makes you sound pandering and/or desperate depending on the feedback you’re asking for). Don’t blog because you feel you have to. Don’t blog about stuff that’s only interesting to you. Don’t ever belittle your readers. Don’t get into fights with your readers. Don’t talk to the void (give them a place to talk to you back; most blogs do this).

DO reply to every comment you get with something insightful. Do answer every email you get, even if it’s a simple ‘Thank you for writing to me!’. Do blog about interesting things (how you’re feeling bored and uninspired is a bad topic, but sharing a story about a time when you felt bored and uninspired, and then give the solution to your problem, is very interesting and will also create a bond). Do blog about things you think are interesting to your readers (but only if they’re interesting to you, too!), such as book reviews or topics related to your writing. Do accept friend requests on FB, and comment on or ‘like’ something if you happen to see something that interests you (but don’t feel forced to stalk your readers).

When I was on FP, at the end of every new chapter I would respond to questions I had received in reviews since the last time I updated. My frequent readers came to know that their every question would be responded to, even if I had to say I couldn’t tell them yet, but they’d find out shortly. It made me reliable and interactive. In general, pretend you are in a forest and your readers are deer: You have to let them come to you. Once you’re ‘trustworthy’ then you can start petting the deer and using them as your personal deer army a la Snow White.

As for how to get readers/fans in the first place, that’s also tricky. See Step 1. But you also need to connect with other writers (apprently we’ve talked about that ad nauseum in the past) because one day their readers might become your readers. For example, a writer friend of yours will read your latest book and post a rave review on his/her blog, along with a story about why you’re a great person to follow.

Connecting with other writers also allows you to guest post or advertise with them (networking). However, of course you’ll want to be mindful that you’re not making friends just for the networking. Those friendships aren’t authentic and your ‘target’ will know.

The Writer Condensing Three Books into One!

~~~

I’m of the mind that “connecting” with readers should come organically. I mean, as a writers, I suppose you’re obliged to sell yourself in some way, and I really don’t mind self-advertising when it’s not the only thing the writer talks about. For example, if I follow you on twitter, I don’t care if you promote your book unless it’s the only thing you have in your tweet stream.

I think that if you are going to advertise, it’s a good idea to put something fun and unique into it. For example, the writer of PARANORMALCY, Kiersten White, had some really fun tweets leading up to her book launch that asked people to buy her book but made people laugh at the same time.

As far as connecting with people who have already read your book, I’m not sure I’m the best to ask about that, having little previous experience ;P Also, I’m not a pure “reader.” I love learning more about how a writer wrote the book, the publishing process for the book, etc, so I’d love the author to connect to me in that way. Other readers who aren’t so entrenched in the writing world may have no interest in these things, though.

However, I totally agree with Savannah in that a great way to connect with reader is to simply talk to them! I know if I contacted a writer I liked and they emailed me back, I’d be much more likely to keep them on my radar and read more of their books. At the very least, I’d be sure to remember them that next time I’m in the bookstore.

But regarding all this “trying to connect,” I think things will work out fine as long as you are polite, friendly, and have good books! If you have a genuine interest in your readers and really do appreciate them, I’m sure it’ll come across 🙂

The Writer Revising for Subs!

~~~

What great answers, Savannah and Kat!  I can’t really add much to them.  I do want to say that, for me, it hasn’t been the number of readers I’ve found online, but the quality of those readers that has mattered.  Savannah’s point about being responsive to people who reach out to you is really important, but not every person you speak with online is destined to be a real friend or even a potential reader of your work.  Since I took most of my writing down from Fiction Press, I’ve become very careful about the people I invite to read my writing.  I recently made a wonderful friend that I connected with through Let the Words Flow, (hi Rosie!) but I waited until I found out a bit about her reading habits, reviewed her book list ongoodreads.com, and got a sense that she might enjoy what I write, before I invited her to read something I’d written.  Of course, when I regularly posted on Fiction Press, I couldn’t hand-pick my readers, but I did try to write story descriptions that would attract the readers most likely to enjoy my work.  Posting regularly on FP helped, as well, as did responding to every comment or question, as Savannah pointed out.  Being friendly and open really goes a long way in our ultra-connected, oddly fragmented world!  🙂

The Writer on Subs!

~~~

As a writer, how do you connect to readers? As a reader, what do you like to see from writers?

Advertisements

4 Responses to “QOTW: Connecting with Readers”

  1. authorguy January 7, 2011 at 7:21 AM #

    Thanks, ladies, for answering my question today. I already follow most of this advice, except possibly the part about replying to every comment I get on my blog. I am very much of the mindset that networking solely to sell my books is not a good thing. I will admit that if I weren’t trying to find readers for my books I almost certainly wouldn’t be on any social networking sites. In fact my most recent blog post was on the way my social networking has changed over the last year, and all of that is due to my publisher and my books.

    Marc Vun Kannon
    http://authorguy.wordpress.com

    • Julie Eshbaugh January 7, 2011 at 12:52 PM #

      Hey Marc! Thanks for the great question! I agree it can be a very difficult task to stay fully engaged online and not come across as “salesy.” But your true readership will know the difference! The people you are writing for – once they find you – will be grateful that you reached out to them! 🙂

  2. Rosie G January 7, 2011 at 11:08 AM #

    Hey all,

    I have to agree that as a reader rather than a writer i love being able to connect with an author, whether it’s the answering of a question or just a hello it makes you happy that the author has taken time out to reply to you, that they have noted your interest in them and their work.

    As Julie said, she has let me read her manuscript which felt like an amazing honour as i’m not a writer and didn’t feel like i was qualified to make jusgements about someone elses hard work.

    However i think that having had that opportunity i feel connected to the story and it makes me sooo impatient for it to be published so i can buy it and put it on my shelf and make all my friends buy it too…..that or i will buy hundreds of copies and give everyone a copy for their birthday.

    I know its not a strategy used to engage readers on a large scale but i think it definitely shows that reader connection can be pretty varied, yet still effective.

    Rosie

    • Julie Eshbaugh January 7, 2011 at 11:52 AM #

      Hey Rosie!

      Thanks for commenting here! I think you bring up an important point when you mention that you’re a “reader rather than a writer.” Being a “reader,” in my opinion, makes you just as qualified to make judgments on a book, since eventually it’s readers who will decide if a book is good or bad and whether it deserves to be mentioned to their friends. You probably made me just as happy by agreeing to read FIREFLY as I did by asking you to read it! I’m thrilled you liked it so much! 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: