by Allison Pottern Hoch
You wrote a book—and people are reading it! Or maybe you’ve published your first short story in a literary magazine with a greater circulation than your immediate family. Perhaps your blog is getting some extra views. How do you hang on to these interested readers and get them to come back the next time you have some fresh writing to offer?
Have a web presence
It’s critical to have an up-to-date, clean, and accessible web presence so that readers can find you online, connect with you, and feel like they are getting fresh information. Whether it’s a simple web page or a Facebook fan page, make sure it’s current.
Pick at least two social media platforms and have a presence there. Where are your readers coming from and where do they congregate virtually? Make sure your social media handles are prominently displayed on your website, at events, and on business cards. Friend or follow fans back, have a regular posting schedule (especially for blogs), and respond to tweets and comments.
This is by no means required but can be an easy and convenient way to connect. An email newsletter can be as simple as upcoming events/publications, or it can be a regular feature with musings, advice, book recommendations, etc. You don’t want to send out a newsletter too often. When you do, make sure it has interesting content that reflects you and your projects. You can gather emails through your website contact form or with a sign-up sheet at events.
The more engaged you are with your readers, both locally and virtually, the more likely they are to want to read more of your work. Attend conferences or become a member of organizations your readers participate in. Write for topical blogs or local newspapers. Host and attend events. Being involved allows you maintain reader relationships as well as gain new ones.
If you’ve been following this column, you know I believe strongly in events—they allow you to interact with readers face-to-face in a very personal and accessible way. Even before you’re published, you can attend events or help organize them. Be strategic about the events you take on, because they take time and energy for all parties involved.
You’ll keep your fans by providing them with content. Whether a regular column or blog, e-newsletter, active social media account(s), or a rigorous publication schedule, what readers want is your writing, first and foremost. You’ll keep your readers by writing the best books/short stories/articles you can so that they’ll want to come back for more.
Allison has happily made books her life’s work. She spent four years marketing and publicizing academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a children’s bookseller and event coordinator. She organized, hosted, and promoted over 150 events during her tenure, ranging in size from intimate workshops and lunches to multi-media events with over 700 attendees. She is now living her dream: putting her B.A. in Creative Writing to good use as a novelist and book event coach. She enjoys science fiction, cupcakes, and a hot cup of tea. http://events.pottern.com. To learn more about engaging with your community bookstore or develop your own successful event and marketing plan, check out the talks and workshops Allison is leading this fall.