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.

Hachette Surveys Readers

A few days ago, Hachette Book Group sent me an email. No, it wasn’t to offer me a six figure book deal, it was a request to fill out a survey.

Hachette Book Group is conducting a brief survey of our e-newsletter subscribers and social network followers to improve online services we offer. Your input may help us provide you with a more custom experience in the future when you visit our sites. We estimate that it will take approximately 5 minutes to complete the survey.

Well, how could I resist! So many people were kind enough to fill out my survey, the least I could do was respond to a large, multi-national publisher.

I wish I had written down all the questions … and, unfortunately the survey link will not let me enter a second time, however, it might interest you to know that Hachette is asking questions about readers’ interest in connecting with other readers online through the HBG website, having the ability to submit book reviews, getting information about new books and so on. If they had looked at the historical fiction survey results, they would have seen where readers prefer to go for recommendations and that publishers rank low on the list.

And why is that? Readers indicated quite clearly that they choose books by author, genre and, in the case of historical fiction, by era. The winners in connecting readers with books share three attributes:

  • thoughtful, trustworthy information about books,
  • opportunities for dialogue and an exchange of ideas, and
  • a community of like-minded readers.

I suspect readers rarely think of publishers by name except perhaps brands like Harlequin that focus on marketing to consumers or, dare I say, Amazon that began as an online retailer and gradually added businesses like publishing to the mix.

A dilemma for sure. I wonder if we’ll see further news on Hachette’s plans for becoming consumer focused.