Sunday, June 5, 2011

Notes from May 21 RWA meeting – Dianna Love and Barbara Vey on Building Reader Loyalty

(Let's see how big of a post Blogspot will take. I put all of this in a facebook note, but I'm trying it here as well. And something I forgot to include in the facebook note: Nancy Knight asked people to email her, since she's become an agent as well as everything else she does., I think. She said she'll represent pretty much anything except YA erotica, which I don't think is a real genre. At least, I hope it's not. I know teenagers read erotica, I just want plausible deniability.)

Dianna Love and Barbara Vey on Building Reader Loyalty

Q: What does reader loyalty mean?
A: That they’ll buy your book, and they’ll buy your book again.

(Throughout the talk, Dianna and Barbara mentioned lots of things I’ve never heard of – sites, blogs, publishers. It made me aware of how many resources are out there if you’re looking for ways to promote your books. Actually, the flow of previously unknown information was kind of overwhelming....Also, as I transcribe these notes, they seem kind of all over the place, but maybe little bits here and there will be useful.)

Things that you as an author can do to build loyalty: sign books for everyone who shows up at signings. Dianna and Barbara told some stories about staying past closing time at bookstores just to make sure everyone got their book signed, even if it meant doing it in the parking lot after dark. Also stories about authors who were unpleasant at their own book signings.

You’ll get loyal readers BEFORE you write your book – times have changed. Social media, conferences, book signings. [Not sure why I wrote that down; maybe the point was that people will know/meet you online or at writing-related events, not necessarily after you’ve published.]

YOU HAVE TO BRAND YOURSELF before your book comes out so that you have a built-in audience. The way to do this is by blogging, online book.[Can’t remember what that means, sorry.] Don’t wait for them to find your book in a store and THEN find you.

Go to conferences, got o Barbara’s blog party. Get known on blogs that readers read – they’ll know your name (and then when your book comes out, they’ll go, “Hey, I remember her!”).

Giveaways can jumpstart a loyal reader. “Giveaway Mondays” on Barbara’s Blog. If you have free stuff to give away, email her a one-sentence description of the item, which must be free. It’s free advertising.

Ask readers what THEY would like as giveaways.

Readers and writers have to form a community. [I meant to ask how you avoid stalkers, but I forgot.]

Publisher’s Weekly has a blog and/or facebook page, and they also have a Romance Newsletter that comes out twice a month. Talk to Barbara if you want something mentioned in that.

E-books: some sales are growing faster than paper books’ sales are dropping. Readers read, and they love to talk about books they read, no matter how the medium changes.

If you don’t like meeting people in person, learn to do it online. New York (i.e. traditional publishers) don’t meet readers, they have surveys done and look at results.

Not all readers have e-readers (so giving away free e-versions of your story isn’t always helpful?).

Give readers a reason to read your book, even if they “don’t read that.”

BE a reader: if they don’t read your genre, recommend someone else’s books that are in a genre they DO read. They’ll remember you, your name.

Don’t ever assume someone reads or doesn’t read your genre. If they don’t, their friends, spouses, parents do.

One reader at a time. The business credo: It’s less expensive to keep a client than to get a new one.

Carry your book or a bookmark to show/give away. Dianna and Barbara told a story about giving away a book to a waitress, who got all excited, held up the book so everyone in the restaurant could see the free book she just got. Now the whole restaurant knew about the book.

Find a common ground with your readers and talk about it in your blog. Write how you talk. Talk about embarrassing stuff, funny stuff – find that common ground. Barbara told a story about blogging about a publishing conference she’d been to, and she mentioned a weird combination toilet/bidet in her bathroom at the hotel, and of course, that’s all the readers of her blog wanted to discuss.

You are a business now, you’re a commodity. If your writing is a hobby, you don’t have to market yourself. BUT if you want to do this as a business, you need to do this stuff.

Keep your website updated, have contact info available. Use your writer name/pseudonym in your blog, facebook page, website. It’s a pain to maintain a website or build a new one, but readers go straight to the website.

If you don’t keep up with a blog, don’t do it at all. Guest blog if you don’t want to have your own. If you do guest blog, reply to your comments and questions.

If you do guest blog or post on other people’s blogs, don’t say, “BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK”. But you can mention that you have a book coming out IF you’re already known on that blog.

HOW TO LOSE READERS: think little of your readers, don’t want to meet them.

When you walk out the door, you’re ON. You never know who you’re talking to – it could be current or future readers. It won’t always be convenient to meet with people, but make the time. [A question that came up as I was transcribing: what if you’re exclusively an e-author? There won’t be book signings. Do you still have to meet people in person?]

HOW TO BUILD LOYALTY: Readers want a good story. But they also want authors who take the time to interact with their readers.

Readers like to meet like-minded readers, at websites, blogs.

When you’re talking to your readers, give them your entire attention – over other authors, publishers, agents, whoever.

If a reader says something positive about your book, no matter what, you say, “Thank you.” Barbara’s example story for this was about a fan, so excited to meet Jackie Collins at a book-signing that his hands were white-knuckled on his copies of her books. When he got up to her, he told her, “I love your romances!” She replied icily, “I don’t write romances. I write relationships.” Barbara said she could SEE the excitement go out of that guy, and she will not read another Jackie Collins book ever again.

Dianna said that she and Sherrilyn Kenyon (sp?) don’t charge for photos with fans – it’s almost like a giveaway.

If you do blog, know your audience. If you blog for other authors, don’t expect readers to be interested. If you blog for readers, make it for readers. Barbara said that she will often get “reader blurbs” for books, which gets other readers to read them.

Do fun contests – T-shirts, books. Something like, “Everyone who comments today gets put into a drawing for a giveaway.”

Post pictures, anyone going on, not just about your books.

Link your twitter and facebook. Maybe do one thing a day (twitter OR facebook OR blog), then be done for that day. You don’t have to read everyone’s posts.

Get Dianna Love’s book “Break Into Fiction”. [I bought it, so if any of you want to borrow it, just let me know.]

Q&A towards the end:

Q: Review sites – should authors go there?
A by Dianna: She will not go on anything that’s negative or attacks anyone. We should support ALL authors. So check review sites before blogging [for them?] or sending your book to be reviewed there. Decide what you want to support. Find reviewers of your books and thank them.
[I used to go to a review site, for readers, that does give poor reviews when they feel it’s warranted. The last time I went there was after reading the first part of a book that was so bad, I had to stop reading it. I wanted to see how they’d reviewed it. They hadn’t reviewed that particular book, but the reviewers on that site consistently gave that author Ds or Fs and finally said they weren’t going to review any more of her books because of those low ratings. Since my taste was similar to most of the reviewers, I valued their opinions.
I feel like readers have the right to know if a book is good or bad before they buy it, although “good or bad” can be very subjective. That same author had glowing reviews on, so like I said about fanfic: no matter how bad the story, there’s someone out there who will love it.
Anyway, I suppose I get what Dianna was saying – as authors, we should support other authors.]
Also sort of on this topic: Barbara will not allow a negative blurb [on her blog]. If a reader doesn’t like the book, Barbara will pass the book to another readers, because someone out there will like the book. [Hey, my point again!]

Blog tours (i.e. guest blogging?) – check the site, make sure they have a lot of readers.

DO NOT ENGAGE if someone says something negative about you.

Keep in mind that a reviews is [just] an opinion.

Ask readers about blog sites, review sites.

Anyone sees your name often enough, they’ll remember your name in real life or online.

Blog entries/movies [?] – keep them short! Don’t work on a blog post more than 20 minutes. Another general rule is to keep them to 350 words or less.

A few things I wrote in the margins: Friends from Beyond Her Book Party

Publisher’s Weekly blog

Seekerville, a blog for unpublished writers?

Pioneer Woman (I hope I have the right site). Example of how a blog about living in the country struck a chord with readers.

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