Monday, August 24, 2015

Fifty Ways to Show Readers Some Love (Part 3)

Today is the final installment in my three-part series on ways writers can show their readers some love.  Check out days 1 – 20 and days 21 – 40 at the highlighted links.

·       Day 41: Write a prequel and post it on your website!  A prequel is fun because it doesn’t give away anything for readers who might not have read your entire series—yet.  And it can be like a between-book snack to keep them happy between book releases!
·       Day 42:  Help them kill off their spouse!  OK, not literally, but how about a contest in which a reader chooses the name of the next murder victim.  As long as it’s all fun and games and the victim agrees, sounds like a great idea!  Just realize Thanksgiving dinner with your mother-in-law might be a little more awkward… 
·       Day 43: Have a word challenge contest!  Have a contest in which readers come up with unusual words and challenge you to use them in your next manuscript. Pick a winner and exercise your creative brain to make it fit within your story!  It might even spark a new red herring!
·       Day 44:  Donate your books to their favorite charities!  I realize that the vast majority of authors are writing at well below the poverty level (yours truly included).  But if you can, allocate a few books each printing to donate to your most loyal readers’ charities.  Perhaps you can even work together to make a themed basket containing your books (you donate the books, they do the rest).  You support the causes they love and get a little exposure in the bargain! 
·       Day 45:  Host a fan of the month contest! If you have an official street team or fan club, why not recognize a particular fan each month?  Maybe you draw names to choose your fan; maybe you have a contest they enter.  Perhaps you give prizes or maybe you simply post a photo and thank them in your blog.  Totally up to you.  But what fan wouldn’t like to be given a little recognition?
·       Day 46:  Let them interview you on Facebook! What better way to show your readers some love than to make yourself available to them! A Facebook “ask the author” event might be just the ticket!  It can be a great way for readers to get to know you as a person while learning more about your writing process. 
·       Day 47:  Ask for their advice!  Stuck on a plot point?  Not sure which action your heroine should take next? Ask your loyal readers! Their thoughts might give your muse the kick she was looking for! 
·       Day 48:  Mention them in the acknowledgements! Has a reader truly gone out of their way to help you?  Perhaps, like me, you have an awesome street team?  Why not mention them in the acknowledgments in your book?  Let the people who help you spread the word about your work be an actual part of it!
·       Day 49:  Feed Them! I’m not at all above bribery to get people to talk to be at book signings. Show your readers you love them by providing a bowl of candy or a plate of home-made cookies at signings.  Believe me, no one wants to eat any cookies I’d make, but I’ve been known to provide vegan chocolate mousse cake and bubbly.
·       Day 50:  Let them name something in the book!  We spoke on day 31 about letting readers name a character, but that’s just the beginning.  How about letting them name a town, road or business?  They can have their place in fictional history in so many ways, and you can keep your creative hat focused on story!   

And a few bonus days…

·       Bonus Day 51: Make them feel special! Share insider-only information to members of your fan club or newsletter subscribers, such as a nugget of character back story that isn’t revealed in your books or a recipe that reflects the tastes of one of your characters. Homemade dog cookies for Bella, anyone? 
·       Bonus Day 52:  Create some downloadable swag!  Postage can get expensive, particularly if you have lots of out-of-country fans.  Why not make your swag downloadable?  Bookmarks, stickers they can print out, special for-your-fans-only photos—if you can think it up it can probably be created online. 
·       Bonus Day 53: Personally reply to their e-mails!  Auto-replies are great if you need to let someone know you’re out of the office.  No replies are well, lonely.  If a reader takes the time to send you an e-mail, reply to it!  Long before I was a writer, I sent an e-mail to Susan Conant, asking about future books.  I was over the moon when she replied.  A minute or so of your time may make someone’s day! 
·       Bonus Day 54: Tap into their inner muse!  Have your readers write an opening line to your next book. Something that creates an idea of what they think the storyline will be. Who knows?  They might even inspire a future story!
·       Bonus Day 55: Give them swag!  Lots of people mentioned swag to me in their “show some love” tip ideas.  From bookmarks (listing all of the author’s books) to pens, to coffee mugs, to…well, the sky is the limit.  Is there a non-expensive (because we all know most authors are broke) creative thing you can give readers that ties in with your book theme?  I know writers who custom make jewelry with their book covers, make one-of-a-kind book marks—some who give dog-cookie swag to their reader’s pets!  Come up with something creative, and your readers may love you forever! 
·       Bonus Day 56: Provide an audio character interview!  Give your readers a little more insight into their favorite characters by recording an interview in which you or a friend play the role of the character answering in their own unique voice.  Many writers spent hours developing character profiles and back story that never make the final page.  Let all of those juicy tidbits come out while entertaining your readers at the same time!
·       Bonus Day 57: Let them help you cook things up!  I’m no longer allowed to cook (yes, I’m that bad) and my yoga-related mysteries don’t contain recipes, but many culinary cozies do.  Why not showcase the favorite recipe of one of your readers? Or even better, have a reader recipe of the month in your newsletter? It’s a great way to “spice things up” and show your readers you love them at the same time!
·       Bonus Day 58: Skype it baby!  We talked about skyping with book clubs on Day 11, but I just realized that’s not the only reason to Skype with your fans.  Run contest for a half-hour personal skyping session…Maybe do a birthday Skype message for your most loyal fans.  Think about how to use technology to connect “in-person” any way you can!
·       Bonus Day 59: Take their suggestions!  Readers come up with great ideas.  Using them recognizes their greatness.  Do it whenever you can.

I’m sure there are many more ways to show readers some love than the 59 I came up with in this series of articles.  Keep showing the love in any way that you can.  Add other ideas in the comments.

Happy reading and writing, everyone!

Tracy Weber

And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA'S A KILLER, at these outlets now!.  E-book versions available for pre-order soon!

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!


Linda Reilly said...

Thanks for these fantastic tips, Tracy. You can bet I'm going to start using some of these great ideas!

Tracy Weber said...

I'm glad you found them useful, Linda. Thanks for reading!

MsKayLib said...

One of my favorite things ever was Skyping with juvenile authors who were nominated for grades 6-8 Magnolia Awards (MS Juv Lit Awards) with the juvenile book club. The kids loved asking questions. Steve Jenkins, author of BONES pointed the camera around his office & showed them all the animal skulls he'd collected to inspire his writing. The kids were so excited they didn't notice I was passing out autographed bookmarks. When he held one up & said he'd sent them bookmarks, I held one up & said they had the. After the visit, one kid asked how he sent the bookmark through the computer. It was magical & they all reread the book after that.

Tracy Weber said...

That sounds so VERY cool. I'm jealous. Well done!