Snagging Readers

In response to my post last week, The Readers Are Coming, people have asked if I have any ideas on how to get to the readers that are there now.

That’s a tough question, since there are different things that work for different folk. But I do have a couple of ideas that I plan to implement–one in the hopefully near future, and the other whenever I get published. Maybe these aren’t new, but I’ve never personally seen anyone else talking about them.

The first one is one I’ve had experience with already. As a teen, I posted my writing (and my first full, decently written novel, Half Blood), on a home-school website for writers, Apricotpie.com. Other home-schoolers read and critiqued my work, and I gained some of my first readers on that site.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of joining a site like that again. I’ve made accounts on Figment and Wattpad, but haven’t done much else. I read an article last week about Wattpad beginning a fundraising option, similar to Kickstarter. This is a great opportunity for authors! It would most likely take a while to build a good-sized following, but I definitely think its something worth pursuing. Wattpad’s crowdfunding makes more sense to me because, especially if you’re a first-time or little-known author, you can post your story for free on Wattpad so people can get a sense of whether or not they like your style/story before funding you.

Another option would be pricier, but definitely worth it in my opinion. A lot of home-schoolers I’ve met read fantasy or science fiction and love it. At the home-schooling convention my family helped at in Springfield every year, there were always a couple of authors. Some even gave lectures, and their booths always had people browsing around them.

This may seem like your typical “go to conferences” advice, but the thing is that the home-school conventions are don’t usually have tons of vendors–the Springfield one, SHEM, had somewhere between around 50-100, but there were always hundreds of families who visited during the two days of the convention. You will probably get a lot of exposure and not get lost in a crowd. Besides that, the kids will love you purely for the fact that you provide a break from the many textbook-selling booths their parents are looking at! 😉

Blogging. Now, hopefully I won’t step on any toes here…but I think the web is overfull of blogs by writers that offer ‘writing advice’. I don’t see many authors trying to reach readers with their blogs. Try posting short stories, or write about interests that you have other than writing. I love reading about my favorite authors and seeing if we have a hobby in common, or are both dog lovers, or…you get the idea. Talk about your life. Post pictures of characters, or if you’re a music person, make playlists that inspired your recent book so your readers can listen to them. Don’t just get stuck writing to aspiring authors.

(And yes, I realize the irony of what I’m writing and where I’m posting it. NAF provides such a variety of articles that I’d hesitate to categorize it as only a ‘writing blog’.)

Now, realize that I’m basically unpublished (no novels of my own are out), so these aren’t “tried-and-true” ideas to reach readers. They’re just my ideas that I don’t see a lot of other people doing. Let’s brainstorm…what are some of your ideas to reach readers?


About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

8 comments on “Snagging Readers

  1. The homeschool convention idea is one I have been batting around for a while now too. The CHAP convention here in PA is huge…thousands of families attend, and by nature, they are usually the right demographic to whom one might try to sell spec-fic. And they’re usually there to buy…guess what…books! 🙂

    I have come to the conclusion that social media is great for building community and connecting with readers once you have them, but it’s terrible for finding readers. So the Wattpad experiment is probably a good idea. It sometimes galls us writers to give away our work in the attempt to win readers, but honestly, until you’re well known, it’s not like there are very many paying markets for short stories anyway. So how can it hurt to post a few in the interest of finding new readers.

    My theory is: the best way to find readers is to physically get in front of them. Small press authors will have to work together to do that, because alone, with our few books, it’s not really feasible. The question is where to go for the best exposure? (Found out recently that a table at ComicCon is in the neighborhood of $2600. Ha. So much for that!) But homeschool conferences are less expensive, as are the smaller gaming, sci-fi, fantasy, and comic cons.

    Now, to have the flexibility to get to them…

    • I really liked your idea of small-press authors working together by taking each others’ books to conventions, Becky. Even if everyone isn’t able to go, all authors contributing books could chip in for a table.

  2. As I recall, Bryan Davis made great progress with homeschool shows.

    Becky, your assessment of social media is great. It’s a connection mechanism, but not a discoverability engine.

    • And not to mention, when you try to sell on say, Facebook, people start to feel like you’ve invited them to am Amway presentation. The more often you say, “Hey, I’ve got books for sale,” the fewer and further between your friend interactions will become. At least that’s the trend I’ve seen in my own pages as well as watching others. Heather’s right…just like an author’s blog, facebook needs to be more about life and maybe some anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of the current WIP.

      • I forgot to mention him, but you’re right, Kristen. Bryan Davis became as popular as he did because he traveled to many home-school conventions in his early years as an author.
        Your descriptions of Facebook, Becky, are exactly why I didn’t include it. Not to mention, EVERYONE tells new authors to “get on Facebook”. 😉

        • “Get on Facebook.” “Start a blog.” Lies. LIES! (OK, not entirely.)

          But regarding Bryan Davis, we should also note that there are sections of the country (i.e.-the Northeast) that he has essentially written off as not worth it. I find that extremely interesting, given that in extremely conservative circles, you’d think the whole fantasy thing would be less palatable. Just goes to show that there’s a lot of trial and error involved.

  3. I have to agree with you on the blogging. First of all, I find reading blogs VERY tedious. I end up scanning for something I might use, and quit reading before the end much of the time. I realize that writers are readers and you can create interest in you by offering information for writers…but what about those who are just readers…and there are many. I hardly think they give a flying-flip about writing techniques. A couple of writers with a HUGE following are Debbie Macomber and Karen Kingsbury. They don’t give writing lessons, they talk about their families, activities they are attending, hobbies they enjoy, etc. Readers who follow writers are interested in who you are as a person. So glad to hear someone else who feels the same way I do.

  4. […] as Becky pointed out in her response to Heather’s “Snagging Readers” post the other day, “social media is great for building community and connecting with readers […]

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