Blogger: Mary Keeley
Authors, published and unpublished, must take charge of all areas of their career, and at the top of the list is growing, and then maintaining, a loyal audience. The earlier you begin the better because a substantial following of readers who want your books is one of the first things publishers look for when weighing the possibility of offering a contract. Here are two tips for growing a loyal readership that will aid your efforts.
Tip #1: Clearly communicate the kind of books you write. In past years authors learned that hefty social numbers were the all-important things in getting a publisher to consider their proposal. Numbers for the sake of numbers. They weren’t strategic in attracting potential readers, choosing instead to befriend other writer friends and anyone else just for the sake of increasing their numbers. Publishers now are beginning to realize that impressive social media numbers alone aren’t reliable indicators that an author can sell lots of their books. If you want to know who your loyal followers on your author page are—those who genuinely are interested in you and what you write—you have to be clear about what it is that you write, and everything you post or blog about should relate to the kind of books your write. Position your tagline prominently as well.
Taglines are hard to get right but when they are, you can be confident that those who follow you from that point forward are real potential buyers of your books. But first, you must have a clear vision in your own mind. A good way to work through this process to ask yourself a few questions:
- What are my primary values, interests, and passions, which inevitably seep into everything I write? Your response will help you to identify what sets your writing apart from other authors in your genre.
- What’s in it for readers? What can readers expect to get from your writing every time they read one of your books? Perhaps your unique kind of subtle humor? Exhaustive research? Sweet story? Complex plot? Something else?
- What three strong words perfectly describe the kind of books I write? Now that you have answered the first two questions, search until you find three perfect words to communicate what your write. Put them together with as few additional words as possible and you should be close to landing on a great tagline. Besides their usefulness for potential readers, taglines continually remind you, the author, to maintain consistency in your writing so your readers never are disappointed.
Some followers may fall away, but that’s okay. They weren’t the right fit for you and your books anyway. The followers who remain may become loyal readers and purchasers of your books as you proceed with the next tip.
Tip 2: Interact with your readers to nurture relationships. It’s natural to gravitate to people we feel are like us and who agree with us, and we tend to dismiss or back away from those we don’t hit it off with right away. But a client overcame that reflex reaction to engage with a person who gave my client’s book a negative review on Amazon.
This client decided to contact the reviewer to thank her for taking the time to write an honest review and to ask her for further feedback. The author’s motivation was a sincere valuing of the reviewer’s opinion and desire to remedy craft issues. They continued to correspond with each other, and a friendship was born from this unlikely source. A negative review situation became a loyal author-reader relationship after my client sent the reviewer another of her books, which the reviewer thoroughly enjoyed. But there is more. The reviewer was part of an age demographic my client’s books wouldn’t usually attract, but as a result of my client’s bridge-building efforts, an expanded audience niche may ignite from the reviewer’s organic promotion.
The winning characteristics in this example that you can employ, too, as you attract and nurture a loyal audience are:
- Humble approach
- Respectful attitude
- Genuine valuing or reader feedback
- Soft-spoken confidence
- Sincere desire to learn from criticism
How are you doing in creating your tagline since our discussion in my blog last month? What efforts have been successful for you in growing and maintaining a loyal audience? What are your greatest challenges in these areas?
Do you need help growing a loyal audience for your books? Here are two tips. Click to Tweet.
Here are five characteristics for successful engagement with readers. Click to Tweet.