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It’s time to switch from ‘inside historical fiction‘ to ‘social reading‘, the second of two themes A Writer of History is exploring this year. Why am I interested? Because I want to be part of the conversation readers have with one another, with writers and with bloggers, and I want to embrace, not resist, the change that’s happening in the world of content creation.

Social Reading Landscape

To begin, I thought I would set out a few thoughts about social reading. The headline says 10, but you never know, I could come up with more.

  1. Social reading is about relationships. Readers with writers. Readers with readers. Readers with reviewers and bloggers. Writers with writers. Bloggers with bloggers. Well, you get my point.
  2. Readers expect writers to be social. As a writer, if readers want to hear from you, your books will sell. Achieving this objective requires an active, sincere, personal, content-rich social media presence.
  3. Ultimately, “the audience grows the audience”. I borrowed this line from Seth Godin who was commenting on his own digital media presence.
  4. Engagement is personal. Readers seek like-minded people. They enjoy the give and take of conversations that occur via social media and want to establish connections.
  5. Social reading is two-way not one way. Pure one-way broadcast is dead–one of the reasons why traditional book reviews are giving way to bloggers, Goodreads and other mechanisms that provide a forum for interaction.
  6. Social reading requires social listening. Readers value conversations. Good conversations involve active listening.
  7. Social reading facilitates discovery. For example, Goodreads recommendation engine suggests new books based on the books a reader has on their shelves. Data from 2013 indicates 11 million books discovered via Goodreads every month.
  8. Social reading is dynamic. It “will evolve in response to ever–changing hardware and software platforms”. Bob Stein, Institute for the Future of the Book. What works today will change tomorrow.
  9. Social reading requires trust. Trusted connections facilitate more open communications. Readers depend on trusting those who review and recommend books, with others involved in the conversations around books, with writers who participate.
  10. Social reading involves a new set of influencers. Goodreads, book bloggers, Facebook, Twitter, LibraryThing, Shelfari, Wattpad, Book Riot, Amazon, Fantastic Fiction, Paperback Swap, Book Bub are just a few of the players in the changing reading ecosystem.
  11. Social reading facilitates the shared experience of reading a book. Readers love to talk about a book they’ve read. Some do so in physical book clubs, others choose online book clubs. Such conversations enhance the book experience by bringing additional insights and varied opinions.
  12. Social reading can extend into the creation process itself. New sites like Wattpad allow readers to post suggestions chapter by chapter so writers can change what they’ve written or what they were planning to write. Some suggest that over time, the boundary between writing and reading will blur.

Twelve thoughts to start this topic off. What do you think?

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.