Marketing writers to readers

Yesterday, after my post on facilitating connections between writers and readers went up, Judith pointed out that I neglected to talk about how writers can make the connection with readers while Linda spoke about writers as people running a small business. Excellent comments.

I went back to the survey of historical fiction readers to look at two of the questions: (1) Where do you find recommendations; and, (2) List your favourite reading oriented websites, blogs and social media sites. I believe the answers provide a sense of where writers can direct their marketing efforts. As Linda points out, writers are entrepreneurs. We create products for consumers – our products are ‘books’ (in quotes because the notion of a book is changing), our consumers are readers. Writers will choose different strategies to bring their products to market; readers have already told us how they find recommendations.

A few further comments:

  • the winners in connecting readers with books share three attributes: (1) thoughtful, trustworthy information, (2) opportunities for dialogue, (3) a community of like-minded readers
  • with social media and other online forums, I believe the definition of friends is changing to a wider circle that includes online communities
  • in the context of the survey, readers mentioned many historical fiction blogs; I imagine readers of other genres – fantasy, sic-fi, romance – also have their favourite blogs
  • only 13% of survey participants said they did not go online for recommendations
  • industry sites includes publishers; at 3%, it seems clear that readers do not look to publishers for recommendations
  • readers browse bookstores (49%) but do not rely on their online sites (2%)
  • Goodreads is more of a North American phenomena; for example, UK participants rarely mentioned Goodreads
  • readers mentioned more than 150 different book blogs run by individuals or small groups
  • Amazon is a source of recommendations (it’s included in the Online Retailers category) but there is a big gap between it and the top 3 favourite online sites
  • survey analysis also offers data on other sites like Facebook, Twitter, library sites, author websites, Shelfari and so on

It seems to me that writers, myself included, need to think carefully about marketing time and expenditure in light of these realities. Let me know what you think.

13 thoughts on “Marketing writers to readers”

  1. I would like to see the survey analysis for social media data. I’ve been building followers on twitter, for example, but have the feeling that twitter has a poor ROI. Even though I tweet, I hardly pay attention to tweets that show up in my stream unless they also show up in my email. My suspicion is my tweeting is more the norm than the exception. OTOH, I find Facebook, Shelfari, blogs, discussion groups, etc. more interesting and have realized direct benefit from these sources.

    1. Hi Joan – your assessment of Twitter resonates with what readers said. Less than 4% of participants mentioned Twitter as a source of recommendations. Shelfari and Library Thing came in at 8.7%. Does that help?

  2. Interesting results. I’m relatively new to Twitter and I haven’t seen reliable data about where it fits in the marketing mix, but my sense is that Twitter serves as sort of an online billboard. The message about a book or author goes by many times and the ‘reader’ may see it once or twice but the cumulative effect is that the reader becomes aware of a title or author they may then pay more attention to when they see that title or author on another venue. One theory.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carol. I’m with you on Twitter. Definitely haven’t figured it out! My son says it’s great for real-time conversations. In theory I know what that means but in practice I don’t. I see some folks out there with more than 5000 or even 20000 followers (and these aren’t celebrities) or folks that they follow. Makes me wonder. There’s only 24 hours in a day; one could use all of them following folks on FB and Twitter and other sites. Perhaps hash tags are the best mechanism? Let me know if you have a eureka 🙂

      1. I have 2,000+ followers and people I follow on Twitter. I have about a dozen that I talk with regularly via Twitter and FB. The way I keep Twitter manageable is Hootsuite and Feed140. Without them I’d be nuts. One does have to write and sleep. Eating we can, of course, do while tweeting 😉

        1. I like your use of the word ‘talk’ when you refer to folks in your community. That’s exactly what readers are looking for, an opportunity for dialogue with other readers and with writers. I’ll have to look at Hootsuite and Feed140 because I’m definitely going nuts!

  3. This is great. The question I have for fellow writers of historical fiction (or any genre really) is how you take this information and use it effectively to market your own writing business. To do this I think you have to have a business plan. A road map on how you are going to make your writing pay. A marketing plan is part of this and this is where a blog like this one helps enormously.

  4. Great ideas in the post and comments! I am a prepublished writer, fairly new to social media. My impression is that Twitter serves as a virtual water cooler where writers and agents talk to each other, but Facebook is better for readers to connect with writers.

    1. Virtual water cooler is a great analogy, Lynn. A place to drop by for random chats, some of which are productive, none of which are predictable. I’m ramping up on FB and don’t yet have an informed opinion. So far, I’m having more fun than I expected.

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