Sunday, 11 August 2013

Platform Management: 4 Tips On How To Keep Readers Between Releases

A book is not written in a day. Seeing the release of a new book within 6 months of the previous is an accomplishment I can only applaud. However, most of the time more than 6 months lapse before a new book is ready for readers. That means that a gap will exist between book releases. Normally new title activities frame a book release between 1.5 to 3 months on each side. Additionally, book release activities follow a bell curve in terms of intensity, slowly building tension towards the release peak and then tapering out.

Since consistency is important with engagement whether online or offline, it is a good idea to build a portfolio of information and activities you promise to offer your readers on a regular basis. Treat your readers like friends that deserve steady attention and not just a desperate phone call when you are in trouble. Your interests are only half the equation and the better you interact with and listen to your readers, the better the relationship with your readership will be.

So, what can you do to keep your readers engaged?

1. Be present

Don't just crawl back into your writing studio once your book is out. Make it easy for your readers to reach out to you anytime. 
To be present, choose which online and offline channels you wish to utilise and dedicate time to maintaining each of them. Quality goes over quantity here. The more channels, the more time will obviously go into maintenance. That might result in a loss of personal dialogue. I, for one, have experienced the difficulties of trying to be in too many places at once on more than one occasion in my life. Usually, I ended up being stressed while my friends felt neglected. That's not the goal, so choose your battles.

There are a myriad number of ways nowadays for you to build check-in points for your readers. Stay tuned for a list in my next post coming 08-18 - Different Platforms for Engaging Readers. Sorry for the wait, but I don't want to overload this post.

2. Include your readers in the creative process

I am always interested to know what my favourite authors are up to. Where do they get their inspiration from? What is their writing process? How did they land on my most beloved characters? Sharing small tidbits and anecdotes on how the actual writing of the novel or book was for you means letting your writers in. It also gives them background on your end of the story. 

Additionally, readers can be invaluable as reviewers, beta readers or even as sounding board for ideas during the creative process. 
  • You are stuck on a scene? Why not start a poll among your readers and see where they point you?
  • You want beta readers to tackle your book before it goes into the second round of editing? I would be thrilled, if I got the opportunity from one of my favourite authors.
3. Challenge Them

This might be something simple like asking them to answer all questions in a community quiz correctly and see how they stand against the knowledge of other readers. Goodreads, for examples, offers the possibility to put together your own quizzes. 

Or you might create an event #hashtag on Twitter and ask them to create quotes for their favourite characters in your book.  Who knows where the resulting #hashtag dialogue will end up. If you wrote a non-fiction book, challenge your readers to come up with a tip for others in the community which addresses the topic your wrote about. The same exercise can be recreated on other social media platforms, e.g.: as an event on facebook.

Finally, people nowadays are very active and love a unique challenge. How about a photo competition with people capturing a scene or object from your novel? Or of them reading your book in an unusual location? 

4. Breach the gap with other pieces of work

There are a few authors where I want to know not only what their next work is going to be about, how the series will continue or what wisdom they will impart next. Much more I hunger for their witty way of putting together words, their great way of writing dialogue or the background story on my favourite character.

Since not all of us are build to be bloggers (and that is perfectly fine), you might at least think about completing smaller pieces of writing to present to your readers in between bigger releases. 

Give them a short story on a topic inspired by your characters, write up a personal experience or give a short essay on a topic either teasing your next non-fiction book or giving additional insight on a published topic. Coming from a fanfiction background, I also see the possibility of a social writing project, e.g.: on Wattpad, accompanying me during my novel process.

Before closing this out, I want to point out that the last point will not suit every writer. Instead it will depend heavily on individual writing process: Are you the type of writer who concentrates intensely on one project (Type 1) or do you occasionally need a break from your big project and go down other avenues now and then (Type 2)?

If you are a Type 2 Writer, Tip 4 should suit you as it gives you the possibility to share work with out the pressure of having to complete a full production. Word of advise, most of this "short content" should be offered for free.

If you count yourself among Type 1, then I think Tip 2 will take priority for you. From my experience, Type 1 writers usually conduct an incredible amount of research which most often never makes it onto the pages of the finished book. Maybe your readers would be interested in the avenues you explore there though. Research brings you to forks in the road concerning your worlds, characters or final topics included in non-fiction.

Inspired yet? What's your next step going to be to breach the gap for your readers?

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