Guest article by Kate Tilton
The tagline of my website is “Connecting Authors & Readers.” I chose this tagline because it is the core of what I hope to achieve in my work. Although my clientele is authors, the importance of connecting these two groups is something I couldn’t overlook. It became the core of what I do on my website and with my weekly Twitter chat, #K8Chat.
Often when teaching social media skills to authors, I find they have fallen into the habit of following only other writers and posting only about publishing, writing, and marketing. As important as all of these topics are, they cannot be the only focus in your author platform. Authors need readers. And yes, authors can (and should) also be readers. But what makes them different? And why is connecting with readers even important?
Let me tell you a story of two car salesmen, Jeffery and Jeremy. You walk onto a car lot and Jeffrey comes up to you. He tells you all about the latest car he has on the lot. He gives you all the details of the car and tells you all about the rave reviews his car has. You thank him for his time and leave. Returning the next day you are approached by Jeremy. Now Jeremy asks about you. What are your interests? What kind of car have you had in the past? What kind of car would you feel comfortable trying? What needs do you have that the car must fill? Jeremy listens to all your answers and then suggests a few cars he thinks match with what you are looking for.
Now who do you buy a car from?
I’ll tell you right now I’d buy a car from Jeremy in a heartbeat over Jeffery. Why? Because Jeremy listened to what I wanted and provided me with options. In other words, he made a connection that salesman Jeffery completely missed while trying to get me to buy the car he wanted me to buy instead of what I wanted to.
And this, dear author, is why connection is important. Readers buy from those they trust. How many times have you bought a book because your friend suggested it? Probably a lot more than from a random tweet you’ve gotten from an author you don’t know, right? It all boils down to trust. Recently I watched a video from Simon Sinek. He explains how the part of our brain that is linked with action (aka book buying) is the same part where we process emotion. Have you ever heard or uttered the phrase “it just doesn’t feel right” when asked why you don’t want to buy? That is because even if logically a product offered seems to be what we are looking for, if we do not have trust in the company, we don’t take action. Selling books works the same way. You may get a few sales from spamming Twitter with your “BUY MY BOOK” tweets, but in order to truly flourish you need to build your readership by building connections with readers.
So how do writers build connections with readers?
- Research where your readers like to hang out and get involved. There are lots of ways to research this, from simply searching on a platform like Goodreads for a group focusing on your genre (like a thriller book club will be filled with readers of the thriller genre) to looking up Twitter chats where readers of different interests hang out (#yalitchat for young adult literature, #K8Chat for authors & readers to connect, etc.).
- Focus on connection and not the sale. For example, if you join a Goodreads group, focus on getting to know the group members and not on how you can sell your book to them. Readers are smart, and if they like who you are and what you bring to the conversation, they’ll find your book all on their own.
- Offer valuable information of interest to your readers. Instead of sharing only writing related updates, share interesting facts related to your genre. For example, if you write historical fiction, share articles, pictures, and facts about the time period you write about.
- Get involved in conversations. Don’t wait for readers to come to you. Go to them. Follow readers interested in your genre. Look at the content they are sharing and contribute to the conversation when you have something of value to add. If a reader shares a review of a book you have read, take the time to read their review and comment with what you enjoyed about the book.
- Be yourself. Too often we are afraid to open up online and show our personality, but without that personality we come across as boring, robot like accounts. And no one likes a boring robot. So don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. If you are funny, be funny. If you are geeky, let that geek flag fly high. By letting others see your personality, you’ll build stronger bonds with those who share your interests, and that is priceless.
So before you jump on another social media site and try to sell your latest book, or throw in the towel because your sales just aren’t there, consider changing your approach. In a world filled with more books than anyone could read in a lifetime, visibility is difficult but not impossible. You can find your readers and make a living doing what you love, as long as you remember that connecting with readers is the most important step.
Kate Tilton has been in love with books for as long as she can remember. A relatively new voice in publishing, Kate has been serving authors behind the scenes since 2010. Founder of Kate Tilton’s Author Services, LLC, Kate works as an author assistant and social media manager with the mission of connecting authors and readers. Kate is the creator and host of #K8chat (Thursdays at 9pm Eastern), a contributor to BadRedhead Media, and has appeared on popular media such as Publishers Weekly, The Book Designer, Kobo Writing Life and Rafflecopter. A cat-lover and fan of many geeky things, Kate can likely be found curled up with the latest Doctor Who episode, plotting world takeover, or connecting authors and readers in any way she can.