Help Your Readers Feel Welcome

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix about the Funko company and noticed how welcomed all of their “funatics” (this is what they call their fans) feel into their brand culture. I’m sure you’ve seen their Pop! figures in stores or online. Funko has created a network of people who love them and love their products. This seems to have happened both organically and through the careful care of their marketing team.

This got me thinking about authors and their fans. How can authors make readers feel more welcome? Authors are trying to sell books and readers that feel included and welcomed into the author’s space are more likely to continue to buy from that author. Many readers like to feel close to the author, even if they’ve never met him or her before. How can you make your website, Facebook, blog, etc. more welcoming to readers–inviting them in to spend some time with you and hopefully increase the chances of their purchasing your book?

And yes, as Christian writers, it’s not all about sales–but to spread the message you are hoping to share, people do need to be purchasing your product.

Here are a few suggestions I have to make readers feel more welcome and I’d love to hear yours!

1) Create a Q and A section on your website that answers the most popular questions you are asked in your emails. Do get a little bit personal, but don’t share private information, 0f course.

2) Share pictures on Facebook, in your newsletter, and on your blog. You don’t need to share pics of your kids if you are uncomfortable with that, but put pictures of you on trips, with your pet, doing research, and more. Visuals are really important these days.

3) If you create a special “street team” don’t announce that to all of your fans. You want everyone to feel special and you don’t want to make any of your readers feel less special than others.

4) Include snippets from reader emails (with permission) on posts or in newsletters. This shows all of the fans that you are paying attention and care about what they are saying. What they share with you can really be life changing for you, too, and it’s good to let them know that you are touched.

5) Create a guestbook on your website–these can allow for fans to “check in” and show where they live on a map of the world. The guestbook doesn’t need to allow comments or pictures–they come in all different types. You might not want comments or pictures if you don’t want to spend much time approving the posts. Find one that fits your needs.

6) Even if you can’t personally respond to every fan letter, make sure the readers get some sort of reply if they message you. Set up an email auto-reply to let them know they matter to you. Also direct them to your newsletter and encourage them to follow you on social media.

7) Be you! The readers like your books because you wrote them and each book includes a lot of you in it. By being yourself in your interactions with readers (in a professional way, of course) you will naturally welcome the readers who are reaching out to you.

How have you helped readers feel welcome? What new ideas have come to you as you’ve read this post? Please share! 🙂


16 Responses

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  1. I feel welcome here–welcome to read, to share my opinion, to respond to others. This is a safe and encouraging space.
    * A welcoming website is easy to read and easy to navigate. If special effects, fancy fonts and colors get in the way, your readers will tend to admire you from afar.

  2. Great ideas – thank you.

  3. Michelle Ule says:

    I’m on a book tour right now and it is totally fun to meet readers. my gatherings are not particularly large, and I like to shake hands and introduce myself to people who attend.

    We went to lunch with a friend of a friend who began with, “I haven’t exactly been stalking you, but I read about your trip,” and launched into reflections about my recent visit to Poland.

    When I use photos of my Adorables, their faces are hidden.

    But I’m an extrovert
    , which may make a difference. 🙂

  4. Wonderful advice, Rachel. I love the idea of checking in on a map!

  5. Great suggestions, Rachel!
    * If I may offer a couple more:
    1) When you can, do try to respond individually to blog and FB comments, and if you can’t be sure to leave a disclaimer as to why. I know that people who comment on my social media sites have taken time from their lives to do so, and I want them to know that I value this. (I often can no longer respond to comments, but I have a secret weapon named Barbara who’s been my locum of late.)
    2) Be consistent about when you post; your words should reliably show up at the door to your followers’ hearts when they part the shades and look expectantly down that street of hope.
    3) Don’t take social media breaks unless absolutely necessary, because there may be followers for whom your words are far more important than you would believe.
    4) Above all, be kind, and let the echo of a gentle spirit be your legacy.

    • Mary Kay Moody says:

      Solid suggestions, Andrew. You (and Barb) exemplify them ~ truly the echo of a gentle spirit. Appreciate that you do it (especially feeling bruised-in-spirit by listening to too much news while I’m sidelined!). Also appreciate the reminder. Am praying for you …

    • Andrew, I always like it on your blog when you let your readers know if you or Barb are writing, and how you are. I also like your disclaimer. Makes us as your friends, fans, and readers feel connected to you, Barb and your world.

  6. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Thanks, Rachel, for the excellent ideas. I try to respond to every comment/message and to be myself. Having worked in a field that required personal secrecy, I still struggle with sharing personal info., but do post some and photos.

    Love your idea about a guestbook. I never thought of that. And appreciate your caution about broadcasting info about a street team. Your post means I’ll be better prepared when publishing time happens! Thank you.

  7. Rachel, I love these suggestions. As someone who doesn’t yet have a website but does have a blog site, I’m going to see which of these ideas I can incorporate with the plan I have. I especially love the guest book idea!

    I agree with Shirlee. This is truly a welcoming space. And though I haven’t been here much lately (LOTS going on in “real” life right now), I always feel welcomed here.

  8. Carol-Lynn Rössel says:

    What is a “street team”?

    • Carol-Lynn, a street team is a small group of die-hard fans who absolutely love your work and are willing to talk about it on social media and everywhere else. They are an instrumental tool for publicity, especially when you have something new coming out. Search the term “writer’s street team” for ideas about how to utilize one.

      • Lauricia, thanks so much for identifying a street team. That is so cool! I have people like that but it’s for other things. They are waiting and encouraging me…well, some are keeping me very accountable to writing, now that my season of nursing and on hands patient care has come to an end after thirty plus years. They regularly ask me about my writing, and encourage me to say, “No.” to other things in order to pursue my passion of creating with words stories and books that change lives .

  9. If you can give them a puzzle to solve, and/or perhaps something to create, but the caveats is, it takes four weeks to do as a different piece is collected, built, or solved each of the four weeks. The one to first achieve this gets some sort of bonus or gift.

  10. Love these suggestions! Didn’t think about keeping a street team quiet, but I do try to respond to every post. I know there have been times that that I have commented or posted on an author’s page thanking them for their story and then nothing. No “like”, no comment, no acknowledgement of any kind. It left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, so I try to be very conscientious to acknowledging people, whether on my personal or author page.