Most indie authors are interested in finding out, how to get readers. In fact, there are webinars, books and businesses that are devoted to that very subject. However, not many of us ask the more important question like: What do we do with them once we got them? We’re so focused on bumping up our email subscribers or social media numbers that we forgot about the human aspect of our job.
As I did the research for my latest social media book, I noticed authors asking over and over again, what do I say? Honestly, there is no rule for that because it all really depends on your book and your message. Do your books have a theme or moral? If so, then your content should revolve around that.
I’ve been studying some of the indie elite, looking at their social media pages and even their newsletters and came up with a few tips that will work for those authors who want to not only get fans but keep them long term.
Idea #1: Plan Ahead
Many social media influencers and newsletter writers often plan months in advance what they’ll post. One Instagrammer /model confessed to using a mood board to integrate certain colors into her feed to create the perfect aesthetic effect. I don’t recommend that unless color or fashion is at the top of your agenda but thinking about what you’ll say and sharing things on that topic keeps your message consistent. For example, if you’re writing about 1940’s gangsters, then your social media posts should consist of posts about 1970’s fashion. Your readers didn’t sign up for that.
Idea #2: Express Gratitude
When readers sign up for bestselling author, Bella Andres’ newsletter in the first auto responder, she thanks readers for their support saying, “Hello! First and foremost, I want to thank you for reading my books! I’m beyond grateful that I get to dream up and write romantic stories every day—and it’s all because of you.” If I were one of her readers, I would’ve converted to fan status after that interaction. I mean who doesn’t like heartfelt appreciation?
Idea #3: Be Sincere
In the summer of 2016, a social media influencer publicly quit Instagram because of what she called, “contrived perfection made to get attention.” She publicly confessed to having photo shoots for her social media account just to make herself look perfect in all her posts. She even discussed fake relationships on Instagram. In essence she confessed to being a fraud. Don’t fall into that trap, it’s one thing to edit wrinkles from a selfie and another to have a completely fake life. Remember: You don’t have to create a persona or a character of yourself. The top celebrities on social media hire professional photographers all the time but authors don’t need to because we have an actual story to tell. They on the other hand, can only appear interesting.
Idea #4: Hold Real Discussions
I’ve seen so many authors fail at this and it’s because we haven’t really learned the art of conversation. You know the saying, “People only listen with the intent to respond, not to understand?” That’s exactly what I see authors doing, they’ll ask a question and answer it or they’ll try to tell their followers what to think. That is not a discussion, it’s just them standing on their soapbox. If you want examples of good reader-author conversations head on over to Indie Author & Book Blogs’ Facebook page.
*You have to be logged in to see the post.*
Here are a few tips about how to get a conversation started:
- Give facts about a subject you know a lot about.
- Hold open confessions.
- Ask an open-ended questions like; Who are the most talented writers of our century?, How do you see (insert character’s name) life unfolding?, What should be addressed in the next book?
- Hold a Q&A
- Share a quote from your book on an eye-catching pic.
- Record a video
- Have contests
- Do cover reveals
- Hold giveaways
Idea #5: Reward Your Subscribers
Many marketers say that the fewer questions you ask, the higher your conversion rates (for your newsletter) will be. However when I signed up for Stephen King’s newsletter in 2008, I was surprised to receive a birthday greeting on my actual birthday. Back then when you signed up, you were asked for your name as well as your birthday. Needless to say, I thought a birthday greeting was super cool but personally, I would’ve taken it a step further and offered a coupon code or a free gift to my readers. Why not one-up the man? 😛 Just explain why you’re asking and allow readers the option of skipping the question.
Idea #6: Cross Promote
Long ago, I was listening to a podcast (the name of it escapes me) and an author was asked if she was afraid of the competitiveness of the market. Her answer was simple, “I don’t see other authors as competition but as colleagues.” That was the most brilliant way to answer the question and since we indie authors are on our own, we need to support each other when we can. Interview other authors in your genre and start the good Karma train rolling. Who knows maybe one day they’ll interview or promote you.
This could be a lot of fun for readers who will be introduced to a new author, and it gives you content to use for social media, newsletters, and blogs.
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t flip the script and talk about what happens when readers reach out to authors only to get repulsed by the response. Case in point, just a few months ago, S.E. Hinton, author of the Outsiders, got into a Twitter scuffle with a teenager when asked about the sexuality of one of her characters. Anyway, Hinton came off looking a bit homophobic and I’m sure she’s not, but the question could have been handled a lot better. Note to authors: If someone asks if one of your characters is gay or transgender, a simple yes or no will suffice.
Socializing isn’t necessarily complicated if you plan ahead. When interacting with readers make sure you’re open to hearing them. You don’t have to understand exactly where they’re coming from but it would be nice if you simply acknowledged their responses. Your readers will thank you later and who knows they may even start conversations with you.