Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
How often have we been told that we need to know the answer to this imperative question: “Who is your reader?” Writers surprisingly often fail to ask themselves that question. But an additional question has popped up that requires an answer as well: “How do you connect with your reader?”
The obvious answer is, “Through my writing.” (Duh.)
But a more nuanced answer is required of authors nowadays. Readers want access to authors; they want to know more about your private life and what makes you tick. They want to know where you write, how you came up with the idea for your last book, what you wore when you accepted your writing award…even a video on your website showing your acceptance speech.
In other words, your readers want a relationship with you. Your job isn’t to sell your book to a reader; your job is to form a relationship. The book will then sell itself.
How do you connect with readers? Hooray for the Internet! Your reader is in the same spot you are, “standing” next to you. Your job is to reach out to him or her and offer interaction. You can talk to them, but let them also talk to you. And then get them to talk to each other. In other words, you can form a congregation of people who have at least one thing in common–they read what you write.
How about getting creative in how you create that bond with your readers? Why not let them read an alternate ending to your novel and vote on which one they liked best and why? Have an online give-and-take about some aspect of your nonfiction book that you struggled with how to write. Develop a contest that asks readers to put their own creative foot forward, such as a video in which they show some clothing item they wore before they lost weight using the method in your book or a video in which they tell off your novel’s antagonist in no uncertain terms (barring swear words) or haiku that depicts your book’s theme.
The sky is the limit in thinking about how to connect with readers. The more authentic and engaging your idea, the more your readers will respond to it. Forget the book giveaway; consider the relationship!