‘Ello, loves. Want to know how to engage your readers?
Today, I’m introducing you to someone new to me. Jackie Castle, freelance writer, novelist, illustrator, educator. This woman has such imagination, and she does the thing–the engage readers thing.
And here’s what she’s got to say about it.
As an Indie author, I’ve had to learn to think out of the box for ways to promote my book series, The White Road Chronicles.
We’ve heard all the standard book-selling advice and know the drill: Write a compelling story, have it edited, and find a great cover. The rest will take care of itself. Well, yes and no.
Personally, I want to do more than just sell books. Don’t get me wrong–I want to earn a living–but I also want to find fun ways to give readers an experience when they read my series. And I believe, when readers are engaged in your story world, they will follow you into other series, as well.
So today, I’m offering three tips on things any writer can do to draw readers into their story-lands.
#1 – Be available to people
Whenever I’m blessed to receive an email or letter from a reader, I’m quick to respond, first thanking them for writing, then discussing what they said or answering any questions as honestly as possible. It’s surprising how shocked they usually are when they get my response.
Same goes for when someone leaves a question on my Facebook author page, my Amazon page, or even at Goodreads/Wattpad.
Another way to connect with readers: a monthly newsletter.
Don’t merely include information about your books, but write a short piece about an observation you’ve had while writing, or a vacation you took. Feature books you’ve read and loved. People who follow your books love knowing a bit about the person behind those stories. I’m not saying to open all the curtains and doors of your life, but sharing (safe) little bits and pieces, such as what inspired a certain character or theme, some kind of behind-the-scenes tidbit helps them connect with you as a fellow human being.
#2 – Seek readers’ input
Recently, I ran a contest to pick the model for my next series cover and got a great response. And readers felt they had a part to play in the creative process of writing Radiance: Book Four. Those who picked the winning cover were entered in a drawing for a free print version of that book. (Which is another thing I enjoy doing–giving away signed copies of my book. It’s fun.)
Don’t be afraid to seek your readers’ opinions. Ask for suggestions on who should play your characters if the book were turned into a movie. Invite fan art. I’ve seen some writers who have several different series going ask the readers which series they want a new book from next. If only I could be in that predicament. Ha!
Keep it simple, yet fun. Each time you pose a question, it’s a means of advertisement without shouting from the rooftop, “Hey! Buy my book!”
#3 – Expand your story world
Especially if you have a series going…create a web/blog site around your story world. Have a character page with a pronunciation guide for difficult names. Or a sight-seeing tour of places in your book and what inspired you to invent, or use, those places. Is the place fictional, or part of a real world setting?
Either way, you can have lots of fun. Are there people who can cook in your book? What about a recipe page? Fantasy? A page that describes your creatures and beings.
With my White Road Chronicle
site, I’ve written inspirational blog posts, provided character pages, and each book has its own page with a sample chapter, overview of story along with links to buy, and even a playlist of songs I listened to while writing that story. I’ve also recently added a map page.
The site is still in development, and I’m constantly changing and tweaking things. I want there to be something different that will continue to draw readers back again and again. Because each time I add something, I’m sure to post a link to my social networking sites.
So, what ideas can you come up with? Please share in the comments.
Jackie Castle is a freelance writer, storyteller, and elementary educator. She lives in Texas with her husband, two teenagers and her dog, Ginger. She looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary in everything she experiences. She has published articles and short stories in several magazines, but her main passion is writing novels for children and young adults.