The ability to interact directly and immediately with your readers is perhaps the greatest benefit you have today over authors in the past. Are you taking full advantage of this privilege?
As authors navigate the long and often confusing publishing process (not to mention the selling cycle!), many lose sight of the end goal of it all—that is, sharing your book and great ideas with others. Below are some gentle reminders of ways you can reach out to and connect with your important, invaluable readership.
GoodReads is a book cataloguing site, on which avid readers can list the books they are currently reading, have read, and intend to read with ratings. Authors have the opportunity to create a profile page with a bio and photo, share their favorite books, create quizzes, post videos, publicize upcoming events, share book excerpts, and more. The site has more than 2.8 million users, so if you’re not yet set up on GoodReads, may we gently suggest that you migrate over there right now.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: social media is essential to making a lasting connection with your readership. Hopefully you’re already set up with a Twitter profile and Facebook fan page. As Amanda Nelson wrote on BookRiot: “At a time when the methods by which an author sells a book are in serious flux, Twitter may become (or perhaps it already is) a serious sales tool.” When you show readers your true value to them by providing great information (via news, blogs, information, jokes, etc.), followers will easily turn into repeat customers.
Taking the time to set up a fully equipped Amazon Author Page is one of the most important steps you can take for your book. Author Pages are a great opportunity to provide customers with a more in-depth view of your platform; you can provide a biography, video, blog feed, events, and more. To learn more about the benefits of an Author Page, check out our blog post here. @Author may also be a great tool; the forum allows readers to highlight certain passages within their Kindle books and ask the author questions about their books. The feature is still in beta mode, so only Amazon-selected authors are currently participating, but the site does plan on opening @Author to the world at large sometime soon.
Paying close attention to certain small website features can also be an unexpected (and easy!) way to foster great communication with your fans. Aside from having a blog, consider adding an events page to your website as well. Also be sure to include your contact information on your site (including links to your social media profiles) and get rid of the lousy contact form, which doesn’t exactly feel like the warmest greeting. The Write Network also suggests setting up an auto-responder to emails. Fans will feel like they’re being heard and will know what to expect in terms of response time, making them feel like the valuable customers they truly are.
You can also add a few features to your actual printed book that will increase communicability with your readers. Consider adding your email address or social media profiles to the front or back pages of your book (and making them link-enabled for e-readers). Reading group questions are also a great idea and one feature you could incorporate into your social media strategy as well (set up a hashtag chat where readers can weigh in on the book, and you can too).
Aside from the potential financial benefits of connecting more deeply with your customers, you might garner some valuable insight into your writing and recommendations for future works from your readers as well. Just last week author Steven Saylor wrote about how a reader’s comment influenced his upcoming book, The Seven Wonders.