Finding Your Readers

by Ashlynmathews on November 1, 2012

I’ve wanted to write this post since the Emerald City Writers’ Conference ended on the 28th, but between edits and my website’s issues, I had to wait. Now I get the chance to share with you my epiphany. My light bulb moment might not be unique, special or blog worthy. But here goes.

I’ve got a confession to make. I only made it to two workshops at ECWC. One was on copyright and contracts that I was assigned to moderate at too early an hour on a Saturday morning when the night prior was spent consuming too much alcohol. The second workshop was an industry panel consisting of indie authors, a small press senior editor, the founder of Smashwords, Mark Coker, and the co- founder of Entangled, Liz Pelletier.

Though I only attended two workshops — the majority of my time spent networking and enjoying a kid and hubby-free weekend — I learned a lot. The most important piece of advice came from Liz Pelletier of Entangled. Her advice was to stop blogging and concentrate on finding your readership.

How? First, use a social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc.) outlet that works best for you and engages your audience. I love Twitter, but find I get better results with Facebook and my Yahoo groups.

Liz said the focus should be on finding a readership outside of our fellow authors, and to comment on others’ blogs whose interest you enjoy and might have in common, but not necessarily another writer’s blog. After all, the ones who comment on our blogs are fellow authors, not readers. Do you find that to be true and consistent on your blogs or websites? What has worked for you in the past to help you find those voracious readers?

I have plans to find my readers, but will wait until the New Year to implement them. Why? Well, it’s all about the timing. By next year, I’ll have three books out, the holidays will be over, and people might have enough of a breather to go and spend their Amazon, or Barnes and Noble gift cards.

I have to admit, self-promo is hard. Not enough of it and an author can get lost in oblivion. But, too much of it can put an author at risk for what I term in-your-face fatigue. Yes, comment and share news related to your work, writing, or promo on social media and loops, but do it in small doses.

I plan to self-promote on Facebook, my Yahoo loops, or on my website in small doses, but I’d like to try something new outside of social media. Well, new to me, anyways. I plan on enlisting my friends, scattered across the country, to help me promote. Think bookmarks and swags filled with goodies and autographed trading cards at local shops, small bookstores, college campuses, and libraries. What are your plans for promotion?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Meyette November 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Thanks for sharing your insights, Ashlyn. What you say makes a lot of sense. Great post!

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Ashlynmathews November 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Thank you! There are varying opinions on what works and doesn’t work and I felt compelled to write this post.

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Maggie Jaimeson November 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Everyone needs to find what works for them and the types of books they write. Every author and editor I talk to has a different idea for what works. Some say don’t do any social media at all because the best advertisement is to write a great second book, and third book, and fourth book, etc.

For me that advice is the only thing to which I can directly relate sales. With each new release, books that went before it are also bought. However, that hasn’t been enough. For me, swag doesn’t seem to have a relationship with direct sales as far as I can tell. However, it does work for building a brand if you have enough of something. I do have bookmarks to drop at bookstores and libraries. I also give them away at signings and use them like a business card because it can fit all my books and my website on it. Anything else I’ve tried in terms of swag has been pretty much round filed by readers.

As for finding readers, the best way I’ve found to do that is through reader blogs. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of them. The best ones have several hundred readers as followers and they tend to run lots of contests, do book reviews, and feature a round robin of authors and genres to keep everyone interested. Blog Tour companies are a place to start to find lists of these blogs. Also start following a couple of your favorite authors if they do virtual tours and see which sites seem strong and which ones seam weak.

As for marketing to other authors, I think they are also readers–some of them voracious (like me). More than that I believe that other authors can advocate you to their readers. For example, I’ve supported NYT Author X for more than ten years both as a reader and more recently as a published author. In turn, she has supported me by doing endorsements of my books, tweeting my releases, mentioning me on her FB page, and inviting me to guest on her blog. Because her readers are my readers as well, this works for me. In addition, I’ve supported a number of other authors throughout the past decade because I like their books and I like them as people. Some of them have grown from small to large readerships. Others have remained small. But I figure every new reader is a great reader and has the possibility of spreading news to more places than I can imagine.

Best advice is don’t let promotion stop you from getting out the next book. Besides that, do what’s comfortable and always be genuine. That will get you pretty far.

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Ashlynmathews November 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Maggie, what great advice and thank you for sharing. As a new author with few readers except friends and fellow authors, what you’ve shared is so invaluable to me, and I’m sure to other newbies. Where are these reader sites aside from Goodreads? Goggle search them?

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Deborah O'Neill Cordes November 1, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Great post, Ashlyn. A lot to think about and I appreciate your comments because I missed that workshop with Liz Pelletier. It was so nice to finally meet you at the ECWC!

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Ashlynmathews November 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm

It was nice to meet you and Cary and the other Crimson authors. Writers are such supportive people and I’ve learned so much from everyone.

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