who’s highly-regarded in that field. This blogger had an offer for a free PDF if you signed up for her monthly emailed newsletter. Sounded good to me. Typical promo.
I got an email back fairly quickly with the PDF attached, my name on the email, and what sounded like a personal note from the writer. Politely, I emailed back and thanked them and said I was looking forward to reading their PDF.
Later, I was checking my emails and found one from Yahoo Automailer with the blogger’s name on it. The email was an auto-response to my email. It apologized for the blogger’s inability to personally respond to emails…because she was writing a book (!) She even named the book’s title in the auto-response…clearly, it was an attempt to do a little promo while basically stating she had no time to respond to emails.
As you can imagine, I was completely flabbergasted. Reading and responding to reader emails, even banal ones like the one I sent, is one thing we should make time for! Why lose the opportunity to make a connection that might mean more sales or a recommendation from a reader to a friend?
It reminded me that, as a published writer (or, in this blogger’s case, about to be published), our primary promo duty is to respond to readers and allow them to find and contact us. This wasn’t the case twenty years ago, for sure. But in 2012 we need to be accessible and responsive.
Ways to keep in touch with readers:
By responding to email: Although email shouldn’t rule our life…it’s got to be dealt with. On busy days, to keep myself from feeling too stressed, I reduce the times I check email to once or twice. I give huge priority to anything from a reader…answering their emails as soon as I see them in my inbox.
You can create an email account that’s separate from your family email through a free provider (Google Mail, Hotmail, Yahoo.) Try a professional-sounding address like Your Name @gmail.com. That way readers aren’t trying to reach you at TheSmithFamily@provider.com .
A personal website or a blog that functions as your home base. I could be argued out of the notion that this is a basic…but I really do believe it is. Even one page that introduces you in a basic, professional way works fine. Both Blogger and WordPress can provide you with a blog that’s also a website (with different pages for visitors to navigate to.)
Basic info to include: how to contact you (email), your genre, and what you’re working on now is probably good enough. You can put up a friendly looking picture of yourself or an image related to your book and call yourself done. If you’ve got a book cover and buy links already, then put those up, too. It’s just a way for readers to get an overall picture of who you are and makes you seem more approachable.
A newsletter: I don’t have a newsletter for my readers (shame on me), but I hear that newsletters are fantastic ways of connecting with readers and letting them know what new books you’re releasing. The newsletter recipients have to subscribe to the newsletter, themselves. I’ve heard of some writers who just add anyone in their email address book to their subscribers list…we can’t do that. But a subscribe button in the sidebar of our blog or website is the perfect way for readers to sign up.
As a reader, do you ever contact authors whose books you’ve read? As a writer, how do you make yourself accessible to current or future readers?
Hickory Smoked Homicide, released November 1. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/Obsidian, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder.
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