Readers, Fans, and Critics – Oh My!

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Although the idea of self-promo to get readers is a fairly straightforward concept, you should attack it from different angles. For example, you’re going to approach it differently for an established fan than you would for a new reader. Same strategies apply – increase online interaction, as well as good conversations in person at book signings whenever you can. But the slight differences involve changes in tone, attitude, and objectives.

That’s why this week I’m dropping my best suggestions for getting those book sales, no matter who you’re talking to. Read on for all that and more, as we head into the busy summer season and all the opportunities you’ll have to meet new readers and keep existing ones enthralled.

Getting New Readers

Say you’re at an outdoor signing event alongside other authors, with people walking by, browsing books casually. Some might stop and chat with you, while others might be “just looking”. The key to getting new readers into your stories is to quickly learn enough about them to tailor your content to fit their interests. My favorite way to do this is to ask if they’re into whatever genre you write. That gives you an “in” to hook them in tight. If that feels too forward for you, try and compliment them instead (without seeming like a creep, obviously). Then, they’ll usually smile, and maybe strike up a conversation with you. A good rapport is powerful currency in the realm of gaining fans. Stick with this.

Online, incentivizing interaction is also a great tool. That’s why I like to do occasional signed book raffles in exchange for sharing my page or interacting with me in some particular way. It gives the potential new readers something new and shiny to motivate them with, while I get to meet new people that might read my books in the future. For more help leveraging online platforms like Instagram, read this recent article HERE.

Keeping Fans Engaged

Long story short, don’t take fans for granted. If they take the trouble to read your work, you should basically be kissing the ground they walk on. If you’ve got the next book in a series available, that’s an easy sell for them. Sign it, maybe even offer to post a picture with them (if they’re okay with it and don’t mind the attention). The biggest thing here is to not take their interest for granted. They’ve invested hours of their time in your work, and they want to know the real you behind it all. So give them what they’re looking for by being your most authentic self. Die-hard fans also love extra exclusive goodies and fun add-ons, like the cute beaded bookmarks I give away with my books at shows. Enjoy feeling like a pop star, but don’t forget the people who got you there in the first place.

Winning Over Critics

This one is tricky – and for good reason. These people have allegedly read your work, and not really identified with it. There are endless reasons for such a reaction, with the biggest one being that we’re all human, with different likes and dislikes. It’s unrealistic to ever expect everyone to like what you’ve written. But sometimes when you’re face-to-face with someone who just doesn’t vibe with it, you can feel a little frazzled and insecure. To keep your wits about you, the most important thing is to stay calm and relaxed in your mind. Find your motivation from an unshakable place inside yourself that no one can access. Take their words with a grain of salt – take what might be helpful from their criticism, and leave the rest. From there, you’ll find what works for you and what doesn’t. Maybe you’ll even find some common ground you can use to convince them with.

If you come across a critic in person, just be humble. Acknowledge that their opinion is valid, even though you see your work very differently. Make a joke, smile, and laugh it off. If they like you enough, they might just give your story a second chance. This advice is solid for online haters as well. Delete the comment, and do not engage. Sometimes, if they’re trolling you – that’s exactly what they want. Please keep in mind that it’s also common to see one-star reviews pop up for no reason. This is pretty frustrating, but often it’s someone who’s never even read your book and is maybe just looking for clout. Don’t let it get you down; instead, just laugh and move on.

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