Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Recently Wired ran an article on the effect Millennials are having on advertising. You can read it here. Contained in the article is this statement,
“Many times brands think that by reaching out to Millennials online and in social channels, they’re connecting with this audience. But, connecting and engaging have very different meanings. One-way communication is not dialogue, and smart brands want—and need—dialogue.”
That comment also holds true for authors (who are brands, whether they want to be or not, by the way). What could be more tiresome than to see an author post online over and over–buy my product, buy my product. Yeah, yeah. I personally tune these messages out; I’ve developed a filter that results in my not really seeing the post.
That doesn’t mean you as an author never tell your readers that the digital version of your book is free or for sale for a specific amount of time; that’s info people want to hear. But it does mean you can’t expect viewers of your social media to respond if your sole message to them is to buy.
If you engage your readers, they’ll convince themselves to buy.
Publishers have begun to grasp the distinction between connecting vs. engaging. That’s why, in the past, publishers wanted to know how many likes you had on Facebook; now they want to see a rolling dialogue between you and your readers on Facebook. It’s one thing to have 21,000 unique visitors to your blog in a month, but another to have you actually respond in the comments section. (No, you don’t have to respond to every person, but, yes, commenters want to know you’re reading what they’re writing.) What publishers want is to know you’re meaningfully engaged with potential readers.
Before you surrender your keyboard in despair that you can’t be all things to all people, here’s a life preserver for you:
Think like a reader. That’s all you have to do. What, as a reader, do you want to hear from authors? Well, howdy, that’s what you should give your readers. Just be you. Engage in a dialogue with readers. Be authentic.
Engaging with readers can be done in person, too. One of my clients, a firefighter, donates a percentage of book sales at his signings to a fund for firefighters injured while putting out a blaze–or to their families if they died on the job. Since his novels are about EMTs, he’s staying true to his brand.
Another client, Lisa Bogart, took herself on a 30-city tour to promote her devotional centered on a knitting theme. As part of her tour, she asked those who attended her talks (held mostly at knit shops) to knit a square, which she would add to an afghan she made while on planes and trains between booksigning stops. The resulting afghans were donated to Warm Up America. Lisa went beyond connecting and instead engaged people not only with her book but also with a larger cause. And stayed true to her brand.
What, as a reader, do you want to hear from an author?
Publishers look for authors who engage with readers rather than “connect” with them. Click to tweet.
Connecting vs. engaging with readers–2 very different things. Click to tweet.