The image of the novelist as a slightly eccentric individual who likes writing alone in a dark room and avoids interacting with anyone else — even their literary agent — is an image of the past. Modern day fiction writers cannot afford to be like Harper Lee and stop communicating with their audience!
Have you ever wondered how many authors get their books on the New York Times bestseller list? They do so by generating a buzz around their books and personas. People not only want to read their books but also know more about the author. For novelists, curiosity is the best way to keep readers coming back.
So how can authors communicate and engage with their readers? Here are a few tips:
1. Use social media
Some social networking platforms are geared specifically towards writers and book lovers, such as Goodreads. For example, Jeffrey Archer uses this platform very well to give his fans a peek into his life, inspirations, hobbies and upcoming novels. Fans can comment, read exclusive content and even participate in Q&A sessions.
Social media can also be a great way for writers to get feedback on books that are in the pipeline. Authors can release rough excerpts from their books and receive immediate, honest feedback from readers.
2. Conduct online Q&A sessions
Social media platforms are excellent for talking to readers in real time. Writers can create events for their readers, such as Twitter chats or Google+ Hangouts, so that everyone shows up to the session at the same time and can ask questions spontaneously.
3. Be active on fan fiction forums
Many readers love reading and writing fan fiction. They come up with alternate endings, plotlines, and characters, and some fan fictions can even become as popular as the original book.
These forums also play host to readers’ questions and comments. J.K. Rowling always makes it a point to engage with her readers on such forums. In fact, she actively answers questions online from readers and even reads the fan fiction herself. This is a great way for writers to get new ideas, understand what readers are looking for and interact with their audience.
Writers cannot spend every waking hour working on their next novel or story. Blogging is an excellent way to write about other topics, battle writer’s block, and communicate with readers.
Neil Gaiman and Chuck Wendig are two of the many authors who blog as a way to interact directly with readers. They share writing tips and advice, describe current work, and update their audiences on new releases.
5. Share additional content
In addition to blog posts, writers can provide free and valuable content to readers in the form of videos, podcasts, audio clips, ebooks, images, and excerpts from upcoming books. The sky is the limit when it comes to brainstorming creative content that’s related to your work!
6. Host book signing and reading sessions
This is probably one of the most popular ways that writers engage with their readers, proving that not all connection is done online. There are tons of libraries, book shops, cafés, and other places to host readings in any city. Writers can meet their fans and readers face-to-face and engage with them in person. A great example of this is Chris Guillebeau’s DIY Book Tour to promote his two books.
These are just a few ways that writers can keep in touch with their fan base and interact with readers. New and exciting platforms are coming up almost every day; what will the next great reader engagement tool be?
What’s your favourite way to connect with your audience? As a reader, how do you most enjoy interacting with authors?