There are some funny ideas out there on how to attract readers—have you ever heard of having a Reader’s Page on your site where readers can post whatever they want (about your books, I presume)?
I could imagine that a really big author like J.K. Rowling could have something like this to encourage her readers to discuss her books—a bulletin board of sorts. But your average author? I don’t think so.
I’ve seen FAQ pages on author’s sites, and have toyed with the idea of putting one up myself (haven’t gotten around to it for two reason: 1) I’m too busy writing my books, teaching, formatting and trying to do some marketing; and 2) I don’t know what sort of questions my readers might have that I should answer.)
I have a hard enough time getting my readers to engage with me on Facebook (I’ve got really quiet readers, I think) or here, on my blog. But to ask readers to write content for a page on my website? I think the page would sit blank for years—until I gave up on the silly idea and took it down.
I do love the idea of engaging with readers, though. I think it’s not only vital to creating devoted readers, but makes the writing so much more fun if I’ve got real, live people in mind when I’m writing my books. For example, I had a great conversation with a reader who messaged me on Facebook to tell me what a disappointment my character Tatiana Vallentyn was in Magic in the Storm. Naturally, I asked her why she felt that way. We got into a terrific conversation which led to me writing Bridges – which I’ve finally decided to title Bridging the Storm (what do you think?). But it was her for whom I wrote the book. It was that one person who I had in my mind as I wrote. I wanted to make her happy, and if I was making her (a bold, outspoken critic) happy, then surely I would end up making a number of other people happy as well.
It’s that sort of engagement that I think all writers desire. I mean, yes, I love getting letters and reviews that say that someone enjoyed reading my work, but I also really appreciate constructive criticism. I like hearing what worked and what didn’t.
To that end, as soon as I’m done editing Bridging the Storm, I’m going to be putting out a call for beta readers (within the next few weeks). I need to know if the book works – there are some very difficult parts in it (sort-of spoiler alert: Tatiana goes mad and it’s very clear why and how, ie something really bad happens to her), so it’s not your ordinary sweet romance, which could be difficult for some people to read.
But I’ve gotten away from my main point here – attracting readers to your site. Do you go out of your way or do something special to attract readers? Do you have a reader’s page on your website? What do you think of the idea?