Sooner or later, authors need to talk to their readers. An author’s success in our digital age depends on two kinds of writing: first, writing your high-quality book, and second, writing content to motivate readers to press the “Buy” button. How do authors balance these two kinds of writing to create success?
Successful authors can no longer push at readers a monologue message such as “Buy my Book.” The days of one-way communication are over. Pushing a message at consumers doesn’t work. Why? People are armed to mute, click off, and trash unsolicited and unwanted messages.
So what replaces the “push a message” approach? Creative, meaningful interaction with your readers. Once people are engaged in a dialogue with you, they have a natural tendency to go deeper into your writing. Personal dialogue with your readers is the powerful first step in guiding their interest toward the ultimate goal of buying and reading your books.
Why Successful Authors Need to Talk to Their Readers
Readers make or break an author’s success. They write your book reviews and tell their friends how great you and your books are. One single reader can become a valuable connection point to their own larger network, leading their friends back to your books.
There is no doubt in my readers’ minds that I value them as authors; you’ll see it quickly in the meme (image + words) I use to express my authentic connection–this encourages interaction on my sites and posts.
As an author, you become the center of your own tribe of readers, and by speaking to them, you lead them on the path toward buying your books.
How to Write for Your Readers: Find the Connection Points
When writing about your books, keep your readers at the front of your mind. As a writer, you are already talented at shifting perspective and mastering point of view in characters. Use that same skill to go into your readers’ minds when talking about your fantastic, high-quality book. Tailor your content to your readers.
When we write for or post to a nonspecific audience, we tend to “speech-ify” and our message loses relevancy. But an author who personally tells me about his book or story brings it to life. When the personal conversation is tailored to me as the listener, I suddenly find myself caring.
Here is one key way my author clients find th connection points between readers and their books: by talking to a relative or friend or someone who cares, but who doesn’t know their books. When you share what your book is about with people who care about you, along with the reason you wrote it and why, the relevant points come out naturally. From there, you can record and transcribe that conversation. These are the points you want to share with your readers in writing blogs and posts.
Get Inspired by Brand Authors
One famous author who reaches out to her readers is Barbara Kingsolver, who talks about climate change, a topic that leads to the subject matter of her bestselling novels. “Brand” author Stephen King built loyal customer relationships by writing a book on the craft of writing, which speaks directly to the concerns of writers’, who are also readers of his books. Ann Rule writes manuscripts completely dictated by her audience’s ideas and reactions, which she gathers from blog comments, polls, and emails. In fact, studies show that readers are willing to pay a premium price for name authors they follow as opposed to unknowns. And remember, every author started out as an unknown.
Take Some Time to Learn About Your Audience
Find out what your audience likes, enjoys, and needs. A surprisingly common mistake many authors make is not knowing who they are writing for. As an agent, I never consider authors who don’t know who their readers are.
Collect information about your readers. Ask questions and read the responses at the end of blog posts. Read the comments on forums and blogs aimed at your audience.
4 Ways to Write Posts for Readers
As you tailor your promotional content to your readers concerns and interests, here are great ways to supercharge your budding dialogue with your audience:
Find and share facts, new connections, articles, quotes, and blog posts that you and your readers care about and will want to share and retweet. Start a Q&A section on your blog.
Make sure your listen to and respond to your readers. Even include them in future blog posts and books where appropriate. Become partners in creation of the work.
Validate opinions, give tips, offer suggestions, and help.
In exchange for readers’ opinions and preferences, give rewards and gifts like discounts, tips, freebies, and free books.
Quick Tips for Talking to Your Readers
Here are some quick and easy ways to open up a dialogue with your readers:
- Ask about readers’ thoughts and opinions
- Respond to their stated concerns
- Look for common interests
- Feel readers’ pain points
- Celebrate readers’ successes
- Above all, remember to lead that dialogue toward the content of your books
Keep a list of how people responded, especially in regard to actions such as shares, re-shares, emails, tweets, likes, and freebie downloads. See if you can find that sweet spot, to which people respond most. Then find ways to do more of what worked, and expand more ways to get the same level of interest.
At the end of the day, your ongoing dialogue with your readers will lead to an author’s biggest reward: word of mouth that leads new readers to your books. The more passionate followers you have, the larger your potential network of new readers.