Engaging Readers

Dan Blank at Writer Unboxed posted about a subject that I’ve just begun to seriously think about: Am I building an audience of writers instead of readers? Yep. Sure am. I love to teach, especially those subjects that I’m passionate about. Writing happens to be one of them. I taught English Composition and Creative Writing in a Home School Co-op, and thought I’d found one of the most rewarding things in my life. I love passing on writing tools and tips. My blog is definitely geared to writers, not readers.

Image (photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)
 
But it brings up a valid point: WHEN I get a book published, I will need a blog geared to readers. I have ideas for a Pinterest board that will appeal to my readers. My website will appeal to my readers. But I’ll have to begin a new blog dedicated to fans and soon-to-be fans of my book/books. So how do I find those readers and direct them to my blog (which doesn’t yet exist, so I don’t have to worry about it quite yet…)? Dan Blank had some suggestions. Pop on over using that link to look at all his nifty ideas. In this post, I’m only going to talk about three of them.
 
Dan’s second point is, “Understand what other books are like yours, especially those published in the past 5 years. Where are they shelved in bookstores, how are they displayed, what comes up in “People who bought this also bought” in Amazon?” These are called comparable titles, and every writer needs to know this information, if for nothing else than your proposal package. The comforting thing about this point is that I already know the answers. The challenge comes in the form of “how do I direct those readers to my blog?” Dan doesn’t answer that question. I’m on my own to figure that out. Any suggestions out there?
 
Point number four is, “Talk to readers. On social channels, follow them, comment on their updates, learn about them. Engage as a fan of similar work, not an author trying to promote your own books.” This one is much easier to see how I’ll direct readers to my blog. I’ve never read the rules, but I’ve noticed on Twitter and Pinterest that, when I “follow” someone, they tend to “follow” me right back. Even if they’ve never heard of me. They liked something they saw on my boards or in my tweets and took a chance. It’s a small chance, of course, because there’s nothing at stake except some wasted minutes if they feel the need to read what I wrote and it’s not pertinent, but suddenly I’m way off my point. The point is, if I actively invest myself in searching out readers and PAY ATTENTION (that’s the key) to what they’re doing, I may attract them to the blog that I’ve established just for them. 
 
The last point of Dan’s I want to discuss is the best one, in my opinion. “Craft messaging that gets readers interested in your writing.” I think I’ve heard that before… anyway, Content is King. My readers blog needs to contain information regarding my books that the readers will find interesting. That could include photos of actors I envisioned when creating a beloved character; backstory on an interesting character (I’m thinking this should be in a creative format, like a short story or a journal entry, as opposed to a character sketch); on-line contests where my book will be given away for free as a prize; places I’ll be signing books and discussing upcoming works; and other stuff like that. How do I figure out what readers will want? Well, I’m a reader, too. When I go to my favorite author’s site, what type of stuff do I want to see/read? Those are the things I’ll need on my own blog.
 
Can you think of anything else readers would want to see on an author’s blog? Share your ideas in the comments area please. These types of brainstorming sessions can be invaluable, not only to me but to others who are reading this post. 
 
-Sonja
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