Today I'll be talking about my impressions of this workshop from the 2012 RWA National Conference:
Speakers: Nancy Berland, Sheila English, James Rollins, Barbara Vey, Rebecca York
The speakers were:
Nancy Berland of Nancy Berland Public Relations (bestselling clients like Debbie Macomber)
Sheila English of Circle of Seven Productions (she popularized the book trailer)
James Rollins, author of bestselling thrillers
Barbara Vey, book blogger at Publishers Weekly
Rebecca York, NYT betselling author
What a line-up! This workshop was packed with information on connecting with readers. I'll try to highlight some of the discussion, but I highly recommend getting the workshop audio on this one as well.
Here are some of their tips, in no particular order:
•First, last, and everything in between: be respectful, kind and interested in all your interactions with readers. Treat readers well and they will be loyal.
•subscribe to Barbara Vey's twitter feed--she's one of the top 10 book bloggers
•the core of reader loyalty is forming a relationship. Ways to do that: answer your own email; provide a contact button on your web site; make interaction with you easy and fun.
•social media takes time from writing. You have to balance it. You must get the writing done first. The book is most important.
•Rebecca York: only put up positive stuff on social media; make people feel excited about you. Do not engage with negativity. Don't respond to bad reviews or negative people. Stay positive. People are attracted by positive personalities.
•Be consistent in your writing (consistent with your book brand, in other words). Tone, genre should be in keeping with your writing style. Don't write dark and gloomy posts if your books are humorous. Don't get into off-topic areas that clash with your brand.
•Off-topic areas that are consistent with your brand are great, though. For example, if you write cozy mysteries, topics like cooking, gardening, or travel might be of great interest to your readers. Just keep with the same type of topics that your readers will be interested in.
•You have to care about your readers. Connect with them. Don't just push books at them, but talk about common interests and find ways to get them involved. Talk about them, too, not just about yourself. See things through their eyes and ask them questions.
•Consistency builds trust; be consistent in your books and in your social media.
•Readers want to believe you are a wonderful person; don't betray that trust.
•Some people hire assistants to tweet or post for them. No one on this panel liked that idea. It's a kind of lie to the reader, to imply they are getting to know you but you're not even there. It feels forced and false, and betrays that trust you want to build with them.
•Maintain a privacy wall. Don't reveal personal things you want to keep private. Don't talk about your kids or your location in detail if you want that private. Choose your topics wisely. Sharing a recipe is great. Sharing your child's school location is not.
•Remember that if a reader contacts you, they are trying to engage. Welcome them and make them feel happy about that connection. Ask them about themselves; don't always talk about yourself. Ask questions.
•Reader appreciation luncheons (like Debbie Macomber does) are wonderful. Any in-person event is golden. Book festivals, signings.
•Pick some venues. You can't do everything. Website is the basic starting point. (Look at James Rollins' website--apparently it's very well done.) They recommend also doing something more immediate than a website--Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Something immediate with a lot of interaction.
•Give gifts and prizes. Digital giveaways are good, like a short story or first 3 chapters of a book. Enter to win a book dedication; enter to win a mention in the book (make sure they sign a disclaimer so they don't sue if they hate their namesake character!); enter to name the pet of the hero, etc. These are really fun for readers.
•James Rollins sends bookplates overseas--see his website to see how he does it.
•Asking for volunteers or ambassadors or street teams (whatever you choose to call them) is a great thing for readers. Many love to feel they are helping you succeed. Send them periodic thank yous/excerpts/bookmarks. They are glad to talk up your book, like it on facebook, retweet for you, write reviews, etc. Be appreciative; let them know how much they are helping you.
•Reward loyalty. Make the reader feel special.
Whew. Like I said, I recommend this workshop if you're getting involved with promotion, because it focuses on what's important: connecting with readers and making them feel involved.
Next time, I'll be posting a summary of the book video workshop I attended. Unfortunately that one wasn't taped (probably because it had so many visuals), but it was fabulous and I'll try to gather some coherent thoughts from my notes to share here on October 31st.
Happy writing, everyone!