Connecting With Readers

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigUnofficial bio

For years I’ve had the attitude that I was best connecting with readers through my stories. I still feel like that’s true. They’re getting a glimpse inside my head, inside my sense of humor, inside the way I see the world and other people through the books that I write.

For years, also, I’ve struggled with other methods of connecting with my readers in a natural way.   Facebook didn’t (still doesn’t) feel natural to me.  On other social media, I set up shop to connect with other writers. (If you ever want to find other writers to connect with on social media, just follow my Twitter followers).

Over a year ago,  I decided to make more of an effort to connect with my readers.  I had a few ideas for doing this, having been listening to writer podcasts and reading a good number of blog posts on the subject.

One thing that I did was to get on Wattpad.  Wattpad is an international community of readers.  Writers (as a best practice) upload chapters serially, once a week.  Readers, primarily on mobile devices, comment inline on stories, remarking on what interests them, amuses them, scares them, etc. It creates a very natural setting for conversation between author and reader.  At first, it was a little new and uncomfortable for me, but I gradually came to enjoy the interaction there.

I also tried to be more approachable on Goodreads by signing up for their author Q&A function and updating my profile on the site.  Like doing yard work, updating our presence on these sites signals that we care.

Another idea I got from viewing successful authors’ websites.  Many of them had an official bio on their ‘about’ page (as did I…a clipped and professional paragraph about me), but then they also had an unofficial bio that was warmer and more personal.  I tried it and got an email from a North Carolina book club a few days later–talking about how much they also loved Nancy Drew as kids and asking me to come speak to them. So, maybe these types of bios can make writers seem more approachable and less distant?

Possibly the biggest thing I did was to add author notes to the backs of my books. This was also, perhaps, the easiest and most natural effort on my part.  After all, I was used to connecting with readers in my books. It was simple to add a note at the end of the books to say a few words about some of my inspiration for the story.  I even added those notes to my Amazon product page for one of the books (in my editorial reviews section, under the reviews. I added “From the Author”) .  When I went back into my published files to update my list of published books, I added author notes at the same time.

These techniques were easy ways for me to feel more connected and more approachable to my readers.

How do you connect with your readers?  Do you connect through social media or use other methods?

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15 thoughts on “Connecting With Readers

  1. You’re right, Elizabeth, that readers do want to connect with writers, and that they often prefer something besides books. They want to feel as though they know the author beyond that. And I agree that Wattpad is one good way to do that. I’ve really enjoyed being there. And, honestly, my blog helps, too.

  2. Hi Elizabeth – makes sense doesn’t it … and you’re getting a response already. The more we can do – without making life too onerous .. the better – yet giving readers a better viewpoint for them to learn a little more about their author.

    Cheers Hilary

  3. I love author notes! I always read them, and acknowledgements pages. It’s also fun when authors add a “playlist” with songs that they think complement the story or that they listened to while writing – but I understand not all authors would find that easy to do.

    1. Megan–Interesting! That’s a great idea…either in the end of the book or on the author site. Since there’s more of a generation gap between me and my readers (sometimes 2 generations), it might be tricky for me, although I’d enjoy trying it for the zombie book I did.

  4. I’m also looking for a more genuine-feeling forum, and Facebook isn’t it for me. I like Goodreads a lot as a reader, but I’m a little wary of the negative tone that can come out.

    Just went and read your unofficial bio – great idea. As soon as I finish with my current book deadline, I’m planning to add one, too. I also added an author Q&A at the end of my first book (I think this was your idea from a post a while back!)

    1. Rebecca–Facebook is just tough for me. I like to use it as a place to gather info (my son’s college’s parent page, the international authors’ FB page, etc.) but not to connect. I rarely comment, mainly just lurk.

      Yes, the unofficial bio is super easy. So is the Q&A. Glad that worked well for you!

  5. So, you got me to sign up for Wattpad, which should be, uh, interesting. And also made me notice how little I’ve used Goodreads. I didn’t realize that author profiles were, well, what they are. So, I think I mean it when I say thanks! ;-)

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