Friday, June 20, 2014

A Healthy Reader-Author Relationship

How any times, as a reader, have you read a book and thought, "I can relate." Following that, you look for more books by the same author, hoping their other work will speak to you in the same way. What we authors have to remember is that, when a reader picks up one of our books and opens it, we enter into a relationship with that reader. Hopefully, a good relationship. What can we, authors and readers alike, do to foster a healthy reader-author relationship?

Here are some points I've considered. (You might have a few to add to the list.)

Five Things Authors Must Do For Their Readers:

1.    Know who you are writing for, your target audience. Don’t talk down to your readers or talk over their heads. Be familiar with the genre you are writing and the people who read that genre.

2.    Be visible and accessible. I don’t mean scratch your phone number on the wall in bathroom stalls with a note that says, “I’m an author, call me, maybe.” Engage—perhaps that’s a better way to state it. Connect with readers through a website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and, best of all in person, when possible. When readers come to book signings, take time to chat. Respond to emails from readers.

3.    Be true and consistent in your writing. A reader who is familiar with your work will instantly recognize something that’s been done in haste, or slip-shod for the sake of getting it done. Care about the quality of what you offer to readers to keep them coming back.

4.    Be grateful and let your readers know you appreciate their support.

5.    Strive to perfect your writing. Don’t become complacent and assume your readers will follow you anywhere. Give readers the quality they deserve.

Five Things Readers Can Do For Authors:

1.    Show your favorite authors some love—let them know you enjoy their books by dropping them an email, signing a guestbook on their website, retweet their tweets with announcements, or post to a Facebook page. Although the old fashioned handwritten note is always nice, if you have a physical mailing address for them.

2.    Spread the word – Let your friends and family know about authors and the books you love. Word of mouth is often the best advertising around. Encourage others to buy a book and try out a new author.

3.    Support authors by buying books from credible vendors. Aargh, there be pirates a’plenty in these waters who are eager to pillage and plunder an author’s work. The old adage comes into play here: If it (the price) seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never hesitate to check this out with the author.

4.    If you belong to a book club, encourage your club to read and discuss a book by one of your favorites. (Most authors would be happy to join in the discussion, either in person, if possible, or via Skype, if invited.)

5.    Ratings, ratings, ratings. Online vendors such as Amazon and B& (and many others) allow readers to rate the books they purchase and, sometimes, allow for comments. These ratings do much more than one might imagine in boosting an author’s book (and their ego).

Care to add to either list?

Linda Rettstatt


Big Mike said...

I'd add two:

- Be realistic in you scenes. Readers want to be enveloped, not step through potholes in your depiction of characters, e.g. people are not perfect, they have fault, create them with real problems inside.

- Spend the time to catch errors in formatting and typos. Readers hate it.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Nothing to add to the list, but I like the idea of a book club that uses Skype. I'll suggest that to one of my friends nearby who chairs a book club.

Also, keeping the integrity of subsequent works, not disappointing readers with poor editing and inconsistent plotting is essential.

Liz Fountain said...

Great list, Linda. Reader support is so essential to we who are still "emerging" authors. Engagement seems to be the answer, and there are lots of ways to get there. Time and patience are also essential.

You've got me thinking about ways I can be a more supportive reader to the authors I love. Thanks!

Carol McPhee said...

great job, Linda. My suggestion is similar to Big Mike's. The author should put the reader in each scene with every tactic possible so they can live through the experiences of the major characters.