Readers Need A Say Too by Marie Lavender
For our 315th post - also known as our three year anniversary post - commemorating the moment we began to have guest authors on this blog and Writing in the Modern Age became official, I thought it would be nice to talk about “readers”. It occurred to me recently that we should start asking readers what they want to see.
It’s true that a writer writes what’s in his heart, that the muse cannot be contained. But readers are our livelihood and they often inspire us to keep writing. The long road to publishing can be softened at times by having loyal fans of our work – supporters, so to speak. A reader wants to feel he or she is a part or the author’s universe in a way that only a writer who has been a fan of an author can understand. Readers are human beings. As we all seek a community of sorts in life, readers want to feel included in the creative process, if possible. So, why not go straight to the source?
Tips for Authors
1. Consider sharing or hinting at insider information. You don’t have to give everything away, but the publishing process for a single book or series can take time and effort, and keeping a reader’s interest in the meantime is imperative. Share character muses, small teasers or even future covers. Start a newsletter to keep your readers updated on the progress of current works, as well as new and future book releases.
2. Host events. You can do random giveaways or manage your own book release parties. Make the process interactive, but offer a reward. For example, you could give away a copy of a book or a set of books as a prize. Offer fun swag like bookmarks, magnets, t-shirts, whatever a fan would be interested in. But involve readers too! One option would be to ask them to name a character for your next book as part of the giveaway. Best answer or answers win! That would be fun and beneficial for both sides!
3. Draw readers into the process. Keep them included on social media by involving readers in key decisions, such as character hair or eye color, names (as aforementioned), even random plot elements. And if you need to choose between two or three options with cover art, why not involve them in that too?
Twice now a handful of readers have influenced me in the way a book was written. I have a book currently in edits, titled Upon Your Love, the last novel of the Heiresses in Love Series, which I relied on reader feedback from reviews to guide me in plot-making decisions. The characters, of course, had a say too. A few months ago, a reader was joking around with me and her comment gave me an idea for a new romantic comedy series. And with one book last year, I even asked readers for feedback on a decision about cover art. Involving readers is actually a lot of fun!
4. Value your readers’ time and feedback. Reading a book is an investment. Your fans took the time to read a Kindle copy or the paperback version.
They stepped away from their daily lives to give your book a chance. If you’re lucky, they even became emotionally invested in your characters. That’s no small feat. Just as we’re accountable to our readers to create a quality product, don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ once in awhile. Reach out to your fans in newsletters or thank them when someone tells you they enjoyed your book. Like most authors, you should feel honored they read it and respond accordingly.
Don’t forget to be kind yet honest with authors. As they say, there are many ways to support your favorite authors. Reviews are just a small part of that. Word of mouth is really the best way to help promote authors. Tell your friends about a book you liked, or spread the word on social media. Ask your local library or bookstore to carry that author’s books, if they don’t have them already.
Who knows? You may be the catalyst for a new author’s career really taking off. Readers, remember you have more power in this process than you can imagine. Take that to heart. Authors are only human. We have bad days now and then, just like you, and catching a kind word on social media or some helpful feedback in a book review often lifts our spirits!
As I said before, being a writer is a solitary journey and having feedback from fans can often make us feel good too. We get out of our characters’ heads for awhile and after a book is published, we realize there’s a different side to all of it. The reader becomes the focus. Even feedback from beta readers in the editing process should be respected. We thrive on our fans like humans need water and food to live. Their excitement about a book renews our excitement. We can often credit loyal readers when a sequel comes out because a big part of that enthusiasm from you drove us to write.
For Our Blog Followers
Today, I also wanted to discuss how readers can shape a blog. Here at Writing in the Modern Age, we are always looking to expand in new directions. I’d like to find out what you, as the reader, would like to see more of. If you’re a writer, what topics do you want to hear about?
And if you’re a book reader as well as a blog follower, tell us what you’d like to see with regards to author spotlights. If you could get a moment with your favorite author, what would you ask him or her? Are there any pressing questions that have danced around in your head for who knows how long? What inquiries would you pose to your favorite authors, or even some new authors on the scene? What have we missed here that you’re just dying to know?
Browse back through the archives on the right hand side to see what I mean. Keep your responses clean please, but we do welcome your feedback. Leave us a comment on the blog thread below, on social media or you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject heading “WritModAge suggestions”.
Tell us how we can improve the blog experience with new writing topics, or even questions we haven’t covered for authors. I promise you we’ll make a list and find a way to include them in future posts.
So, authors, don’t forget to try to include your readers in the writing process, to give back for their precious time spent reading your books. And to my fellow writers and readers of the blog…let us know how we can help you. ;)
Thank you so much for your loyal following here for the past three years. It has been quite a ride with guest articles, special events such as huge book giveaways (or our featured multi-author ‘Why Do We Write?’ post, as you’ll notice in the sidebar), author interviews or character interviews, new releases, poetry spotlights and our newest feature, the Author’s Bookshelf. With over a hundred authors featured every year, Writing in the Modern age has come a long way! This blog has been growing because of you, and I truly appreciate those who’ve followed via email or through Google membership, not to mention the comments on the posts.
And keep commenting! Authors love to hear from you!
Writing in the Modern Age has become a community, a place for writers of all stages to visit for tips on writing, editing, publishing and marketing, as well as a source for readers to find new favorite authors! This journey would be nothing without you, readers! So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your support. Please leave us a comment here to let us know what more we can do for you on the blog.
Thanks for your loyal readership, and have a lovely month of May!
And, as always, happy reading! :)