This is the second of three blog posts that highlight ways writers can show their readers some love. Check out the first twenty at last month's post. Enjoy, share, and add to the list in the comments. I hope it sparks some creative ideas!
Day 21: Be approachable. I know of a writer who wears jeans to all of her signings, because it makes readers more comfortable. How can you be more approachable to readers? Smiles? A “please join me?” A welcome message pinned to the top of your author page? A sign saying I write about vampires but rarely suck blood? Approaching a stranger is uncomfortable at best. Do whatever you can to make it easier for them.
Day 22: Donate your time—and help raise money! Donate an hour of your time with an aspiring author at local charity auctions or via Skype for the charity auctions of some of your loyal readers. (Could also be a book club meeting, a character naming, a reading or ????) Doesn’t cost a dime, earns you good karma, and helps the worthy causes your readers love!
Day 23: Offer them autographed book plates. Who says you need to be in the same area to get an autograph? Order book plates, sign them, and send them to your most loyal readers! The next best thing to having the actual book autographed. And you can even personalize them!
Day 24: Hold a Facebook launch party! Launch parties are great fun, but they only reach people within a few miles of the event. How about a Facebook launch party? It takes a little bit of time to plan, but the reach is huge. You can double your extra-credit karma points by inviting other authors they might like to join in the fun. I like to give away books at my launch parties—especially those written by other authors my readers might enjoy!
Day 25: “Like” their comments on social media. If a person comments on a post but no one likes it, does it really exist? If a reader goes to the trouble of posting on your page, hitting “like” seems like a small request. It takes less time than reading the comment!
Day 26: Share your “deleted scenes” My husband loves watching the deleted scenes when we rent DVDs. How about sharing a deleted scene from one of your books? You (or your editor) may not have let it make it to the final cut, but that doesn’t mean you readers won’t enjoy it.
Day 27: Be positive. No one’s day is improved when they are bombarded by posts from a Debbie Downer. When in doubt, celebrate the great things readers do for you versus bemoaning the bestseller list you didn’t hit. There’s a balance in there somewhere.
Day 28: Link your social media accounts. Link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so it’s easier for readers to find you. I have to admit, this is one I haven’t implemented yet. But that’s because I’m a Twidiot! Many of my writer friends are much more Twitter savvy than I am.
Day 29: Engage with readers when they ask for your autograph. I always make it a point to thank readers when they ask for my autograph as well as ask them to let me know what they thought of the book after they’ve read it., A few do. Most of them don’t. But they seem surprised and happy to be asked. One flat out told me that no author had ever asked for her opinion before. If someone takes the time to approach you, make it worth their while!
Day 30: Post unique content to their blogs. Many of your most loyal fans are also book bloggers who are trying to build visibility, just like we writers are. If you agree to post on a book blogger’s blog, make the content unique. That will help them increase visibility in the search engines. At the very least, warn them if the content is duplicate so they have the option to say “no” if it doesn’t fit with their goals and guidelines.
Day 31: Let them name a character in your next book! I just ran a contest to let readers choose the name for two characters in my fourth book. Not only did I get some GREAT character names to choose from, but a reader is getting her name in the acknowledgements section of the book. How fun!
Day 32: Hold a cover reveal contest! I just finished my cover reveal contest, and it was tons of fun! The cost of a few prizes was totally worth the chance I had to interact with some of my most loyal readers. And I suspect I met a few new ones, too!
Day 33: Write Good Books! This one seems obvious to me, but enough readers mentioned it that I thought I should share it. Many readers like being connected with their favorite authors, but the thing they want most from them is to write good books—and more of them! So be sure to spend enough time at that keyboard!
Day 34: Ask them to help choose your next author head shot! I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have my left arm chopped off than pose for a head shot. And my most likely response when I see them is to run to the phone to make an appointment for a die job and a face lift. Your readers, on the other hand, see you as you are. And they might enjoy helping you pick what I refer to as the “best of the worst.”
Day 35: Meet up with them on your travels! When traveling on tour or speaking, let your fans know, and make an effort to meet up with someone either en route or upon arrival. One writer I know has made friends across the US by doing this. So much better than being just an online persona!
Day 36. Provide them with book group questions! This is still on my to-do list, but I plan to do it someday soon. Readers who belong to book clubs love to have questions to help guide their discussions. It doesn’t take long to do and may help them explore your work at a deeper, more meaningful level. This one is from Lea Wait.
Day 37: Tell them where to get your books at low cost or free! One author I know dedicates her newsletters to helping find her books as cheaply as possible. That way they can enjoy her work without busting their budgets!
Day 38: Name a character after them! While I was at Malice, a reader told me a delightful story about her aging mother and the challenges she had choosing presents for her. She contacted her mother’s favorite author and convinced her to write her mother into the story. How cool is that?
Day 39: Write them a letter! Several readers mentioned to me that their favorite authors sent them a card or a note and it meant the world to them. Letter writing seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs, but we writers should at least be doing our part!
Day 40: Ask them to give input on your next book cover. Who knows better than your readers what kinds of covers interest them! And it shows how much you value their opinion! Many authors have no input to their covers, but if you’re self published, you have total control. Why not get your readers involved?
Thanks for reading. The final ten ideas (with a few bonuses) will post next month.
Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction was nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel. The second book in her series, A Killer Retreat, was released January, 2015 by Midnight Ink. Book three in the series, Karma's A Killer, will be released January 2016.
Visit her at TracyWeberAuthor.com, friend her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tracywe, or e-mail her at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com.