This is a new feature we’re giving a shot. Rachel Speal is a long-time listener of Podiobooks.com who also happens to be a content strategist. She’s offered to guest post a few articles that give practical advice on building your author platform. So please, leave comments below and visit her online!
The Secret Reason Why Your Readers Don’t Rave About Your Books
There’s a secret to gaining readers that rave about your books.
It’s a secret only a few authors know about, and it has nothing to do with Facebook or Twitter.
And while you stand around feeling like the kid who didn’t get asked to the prom, they’re busy fending off troves of dedicated readers who hang onto their every word.
They don’t have magical platform-building powers, so how do they do it?
They do it by knowing what their readers want – and giving it to them. Here are 7 things you can do to build your own tribe of raving fans.
Let Readers Peek Behind the Curtain
There’s something exciting about learning more about your favorite author. Whether it’s the fact that they’re afraid of cats, or don’t start writing unless their desks are maniacally clean, finding out more about the author they love helps readers nurture the connection they feel after having read your books.
And while seeing behind the curtain doesn’t mean writing about what you ate for lunch yesterday, there are plenty of other ways to let your readers get to know you better. Meg Cabot wrote a post called, 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me. Sue Grafton shares photographs of her cats and herself as a child. Share the parts of yourself you feel comfortable sharing, and your readers will reward you by coming back for more.
Give Away Exclusive Content
Even after readers finish your novel, they’ve immersed themselves so fully in the world you’ve created, that it’s often hard for them to let go. You can tap into this desire for “more” by giving away content that can’t be found anywhere else.
Giving away content doesn’t mean creating new content, however. Remember that scene you hated cutting? Your readers would love to read it. The same is true for deleted chapters, alternate endings, character sketches, and pretty much anything you have that didn’t make it into the book.
Readers also love short stories of characters they already know. Make sure they’re professionally edited and of the same quality as the rest of your work, and use them as free download to bring in new e-mail subscribers.
Be sure to take advantage of fans who share your content in e-mails or social media with Tynt. According to one study, up to 82% of content on the web (4.5 times more than share buttons) is shared via copy and paste. Tynt lets you redirect readers back to the original source of the content – your site- so that you can increase traffic
Engage Your Fans
Readers love fan sites because it gives them a chance to wax enthusiastic about their favorite author. And while linking to fan sites on your author website is a great way to show your fans you care (it doesn’t hurt that it contributes majorly to loyal audience traffic either), there are other things you can do to engage your readers in meaningful ways.
Fan art is one method that a growing number of authors are using to build relationships with their readers. Deviant Art has an entire section devoted to readers’ sketches, paintings, and other novel-inspired artwork. Encourage your readers to send you their artwork, and post it on your blog or on your Pinterest account.
Answering reader’s questions and posting it on your site is another way to garner happy fans. Go one step further and package all of the questions into one big FAQ page, and you’ll have an evergreen resource that adds value to your author site.
Keep Readers Updated
Your readers want to be in the know when it comes to your speaking schedule, book signings, author tours, or books in progress. There’s nothing more frustrating to a fan than finding out your favorite author is in town … after they’ve already left. Devote a special section on your site for news, and update regularly, even if it’s just a sentence or two.
And since fans are anxiously waiting for the next book in line — some have even gotten nasty about having to wait so long — you might want to consider a book progress bar on your sidebar or homepage. It not only automatically answers the infamous “When is your next book coming out,” question, but readers will visit your site more frequently to see how much longer they have to wait for your next book.
Share What You’re Reading
There’s something fascinating about being privy to what your favorite author is reading. It’s the book equivalent of checking out your teacher’s medicine cabinet, except you don’t have to worry about getting caught.
Don’t be afraid to talk about books outside of your genre, either. Stephen King’s list of recommended books covers everything from Richard Matheson, to Tennessee Williams, to Gillian Flynn. You can share the books you like to read on Twitter as you read them, or upload a list of your favorite books on your blog. Write a few sentences about why you liked the book, and let your readers choose what interests them.
Give Behind the Scenes Insight
DVD’s offering commentary from the cast and crew have been popular for a while now. Somehow, in our information-overloaded world, people still love to learn about all the crazy facts and behind the scenes trivia that went into the making of their favorite movie or television show.
Your readers aren’t any different. Intrigue your readers by offering them commentary about why you felt your protagonist had to act the way they did, or why a particular scene begged to be written.
Some authors feel comfortable writing only a few sentences, lest they end up arguing with readers about whether their choice was a good one. Others offer entire PDF downloads, allowing their readers to get a rich look at the behind the scenes action.
For the author willing to experiment, there’s also Readmill, an ebook reader for the iPad and iPhone that allows you to engage your readers in real time. Claim your work, and Readmill will Tweet you when a reader starts or finishes your book, so that you can get a conversation started while your book is fresh in their mind. Readers can also highlight their favorite passages, similar to other e-book readers.
Make Sure They Can Reach You
Readers have been writing to authors for hundreds of years. Before the advent of the Internet, many a writer spent hours writing letters to fans – by hand. And although it may seem annoying to you, nothing creates a raving fan faster than getting a personal response back from you.
Even if you find it hard to answer every reader, you’ll still want to make sure your contact information is clearly visible on your site and on every piece of downloadable content you provide. There’s nothing more annoying than taking the time to visit an author’s website, and not being able to find a way to get in contact with them.
It’s also common for people to download a sample chapter, and forget about it for several days or weeks. If they end up loving it but are unable to find out more about the author because you left out your contact information, you’ve pretty much lost them as a reader – unless you’re smart and use an autoresponder to build a subscriber list.
It’s also not unusual for people to share downloaded content with a friend. Your content could end up going viral, but it won’t do any good if no one knows who you are.
Do yourself (and your marketing) a favor: make sure your contact information is clearly visible on your site — a “contact me” page on your navigation bar is an easy way to do this- and be sure to write your name,the title of your work, and linked website address as a footer at the bottom of downloadable content.
Your site should feature social sharing buttons in your sidebar so readers can easily sign up to connect with you through their favorite social media site. If you’re using a self-hosted WordPress site, you can use a plugin to add social media icons to your sidebar and at the end of every post. Sociable and Share Buttons are two of the most popular.
Rule Your Future
Things are better than they’ve ever been for authors.
You don’t need a big publisher to make it big.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on advertising.
You don’t even need to spend one-third of your time traveling the book signing circuit.
All you need is the will and the determination – and a little bit of organization- to build your own tribe of raving fans.
Don’t put it off for another day.
There is no better day like today to start entering the Readers’ Hall of Fame.