Why Authors Need to Talk to Their Readers

Why Authors Need to Talk to Their Readers

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:

1. Educate

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.

2. Enable

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.

3. Support

Validate opinions, give tips, offer suggestions, and help.

4. Reward

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
  • Compliment
  • 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.

Tell me your opinion: What do you find most difficult about talking to your readers?

Why Authors Need to Talk to Their Readers

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About Carole Jelen | @CJelen

Carole Jelen is the coauthor of the new book Build Your Author Platform: The New Rules. As a former publishing executive and editor at three publishing houses, Carole has worked with innovators and top authors for decades, and is designated as a “Career Builder” Literary Agent, helping authors to create and build author platforms.


  1. “Talk to your readers!” What if you don’t have any readers yet? How do you get your first interested followers?
    “Know who your readers are!” How does a totally unknown non-anglophile author become an overnight success with a huge, uninspiringly titled book about something as unmarketable as medieval religious rituals (and a bit of sexual perversion and murder thrown in)? You guessed: I’m thinking of The Name of the Rose. Who was Eco’s target audience?

    • Umberto Eco quick search shows he was a cultural editor on radio/tv, lectured classes at the University of Turin, active in group memberships including Groupo 63 that was influential in his writing career, and author of essays and news and journal articles; multiple paths of talking to readers.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Carole!

  3. thomas h cullen says

    All that you said about relevance, and knowing how to pitch a work from person to person I respected Carole. Fortunately, I’m in the privileged position where because of how far-reaching, The Representative is, I don’t need to be concerned at all with ‘searching’ for something to communicate – to literally any person, anywhere in the world, The Representative is relevant to.

    Currently – this is a privilege I’m enjoying.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Thank you for your comment Thomas! Can you please respond with your Facebook -fan page- url , and I will be happy to visit, Like and learn more about your book.

      • thomas h cullen says

        Thanks Carole – that was out of the blue. (Since the middle of May, I’ve been waiting for a just first person to go on Lulu and read it).

        I don’t use Facebook – just Twitter (I’m hardly in fact a social media user).

        Three Trokans, a resource, and an interception (that’s game-changer to the entire situation).

        For each: the link, between status and power, and the relationship between a father and daughter, The Representative’s a final context.

        It’s final Carole, I assure you this. Identity, and the ability that having one can afford, helping the disempowered, being a loving parent – it’s all this, at a final level.

        In making The Representative (especially, in writing it’s very last line), it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve felt as much as it’s humanly possible for a human being to feel.

  4. Writing is not as easy as it may seem thus with your advise above, I think I will be a better writer. Indeed, there is nothing pleasurable than a writers work being appreciated from the readers quarters. Thank you for your advise.

    • thomas h cullen says

      That’s now all I desire – The Representative, and Croyan and Mariel’s life history getting recognition.

  5. As an author, I love talking with my readers through emails. Unfortunately, when an author gets to “know” readers, and the readers want to review, KDP Select will more often, than not, block the reviews because policy won’t allow family, friends, co-workers and those who “know” the author to review works. This makes it difficult to garner a fan base. Any suggestions?


  1. […] Authors need to talk to their readers. Your success in our digital age depends on writing both a good book and content that motivates readers to buy.  […]

  2. […] meaningful interaction with your readers”, sagt K.M. Weiland in ihrem Artikel Why Authors Need to Talk to Their Readers.
(Quelle: Helping Writers Become […]

  3. […] Why Authors Need to Talk to Their Readers by Carole Jelen   @CJelen via @KMWeiland […]

  4. […] In 2014  Carole Jelen wrote a practical ‘how to’ blog post about why authors need to talk with their readers. In the last 4 years readers and writers have become more and more heart bound, collaborators in a new kind of community to the benefit of more than just themselves. […]

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