If Gentle Reader loves you he or she will buy everything you’ve ever written. If the dear soul doesn’t.
I’ve seen writers agonize over sales, quality of their books, marketing, social media, etc. But basically it comes down to a tricky match between the reader and the writer. Books are too expensive to buy those of writers we really don’t like all that much. For that matter, reading books we aren’t enthusiastic about are like being on a forced march. We don’t have to if we don’t want to. It’s one of the bonuses of being an adult instead of an English student.
I read books that I don’t care for. Quite a few, in fact. I read them out of curiosity, or because a friend has asked to “blurb” a book, or because I thought they were going to be worth reading. But I often feel cheated and resent wasting my time. I read a number of books to study technique, or because they are a classic that everyone else has read. I’m a sucker for good reviews. I read books that win awards. I’m going to read everything that’s on the Edgars list. And all the Pulitzer finalists. Ditto National Book Awards.
My oldest daughter, Cheryl was over the other night carrying books I had given her for Christmas. On top was Lila by Marilynne Robinson. The first words out of her mouth were, “Whatever you are reading, put it down. Right now. Start reading this instead.” Now that’s the way to sell a book.
My daughter, Michele, tried to stop me from taking The Secret Place by Tana French. Because her husband hadn’t read it yet. Isn’t that silly? I pulled the seniority card.
Our whole family reads everything Tana French writes and also Craig Johnson who writes western mysteries. Audrey likes David Mitchell, but I don’t. How could she not have liked Gone Girl—but she didn’t.
My husband loved military history. Especially books about World War II. I gave Mary Beth one of Mo Hayden’s books and she was an instant dedicated fan. She bought everything Mo had ever written.
What we are looking for is a real live fan. The kind that adores our books and will tell all their friends. But to reach this person we have to do a lot of work. We can’t make someone like our books. But we can do everything possible to make sure a likely person knows about a book we’ve written and if possible, persuade them to read the first few pages.
That’s where the rub comes in. What is the best way to get our books in the hands of a reader?
At the beginning of this year, I decided to do more with social media and go to fewer conferences. I went to fewer conferences, but fell down in my determination to conquer social media.
There are three basic ways to get find that elusive dedicated fan:
- give talks and presentations at bookstores, libraries, or groups
- Become a social media whiz
- Go to conferences and befriend a fan