For this post I’m putting on my reader hat. It’s a bit worn and tired since I finished a book a few weeks ago, but it still fits. An interesting post on DearAuthor.com got me thinking about what I expect from the authors I consistently love to read. Some of the points made in the post talked about reader behavior and what they expect from the authors they read.
I work day to day at my computer doing development work and a lot of what I have to do applies to authors as well. I have to try to do my best so that customers feel they can come to me with questions and want to return for more paid services.
So, on to my top five things I want as a reader. (Drum roll please.)
Top Five Things which DO MATTER to me:
1. Write the best book you can write. If Pepsi or Coke puts out a brand new drink I expect it to taste just as good as their usual stuff. They put money into making sure their product is the best. I expect the same for any book I read. If it is self-pubbed, then make sure it is edited and copyedited properly. I’ve actually read books by some of my favorites that wasn’t as good as the last release, but I still went out and bought the next one. The point Jane made about reader loyalty is so true.
2. If you write a series then keep me a happy customer by keeping those releases coming out at a decent interval. (This of course does not apply if your publisher cut off your series early. Which sucks.) Yearly books aren’t so bad, but they are painful to wait for. There are even some authors with years in between their work and I still buy them. But if it’s possible, can you hook a gal up with a book every 6-9 months. Thanks!
3. Keep up with your fan mail and please reply. I’ll keep it real here. If I really love a book I will email the author and say so. But its kind of disappointing when one author replies back with a great email and another one doesn’t reply at all. And the one who did reply was the author of a book I tried out and loved on a whim. I bet you can guess that the new author who replied to me is on now my auto-buy list, huh? Whether I’m an author or not, I enjoy great books, but I love them even more if I can connect with that author and discuss their book. It’s their reply that I’ll also mention to my other reader friends with enthusiasm.
“But I’m buried under reader email and don’t have time!” you say? A reply still won’t hurt or render you unable to write. I don’t mind waiting if you have a deadline, just be a gem and reply back with something: “Thanks for reading and enjoying my book. I appreciate your email and hope you enjoy my next book coming out next fall.”
I’ve heard Angie Fox sum it quite eloquently, “Just reply to your fan mail please.”
4. Answer emails even if they aren’t fan mail. If I’m a reader and I’m asking about where to find your book in a certain format, then it won’t hurt me if you put off my question for a bit, but at least refer me to your publisher’s website where I can find multiple formats listed on your product page. As a web developer, I work in a service-oriented industry where no question is too simple. (And there can be some really simple ones.) Just keep the customers happy and have them tell their friends how cool their favorite author is.
Also, think about it this way, if you get a lot of the same question, why not put up a FAQ page on your website. If you get the question by email again, just refer them to your FAQ, or even easier, just paste that answer into your email.
5. Help me find you and read your awesome books. I love to read series. But if I go to an author’s website and I have to hunt to figure out what book 1 is in your series, then that’s a problem. My time is precious and my wallet is willing. I just need a little help to know where to spend my cash first.;)
Now, what DOESN’T MATTER to me, but it don’t hurt.
1. Giveaways are nice, but I’m perfectly happy with the book. I’ll be the first to line up for any giveaway on Goodreads and such. I’ll even proudly wear a t-shirt associated with a book, but your book with it’s shiny cover is all I need.
2. Blogs and Social Media are nice, but they’re not necessary. Okay, so I’ve gone fangirl a few times when I’ve met my favorite authors. But that was seeing them in person. I’d gone decades without seeing them on Twitter and I still adored them. What does that mean? I believe it means blogs and social media are just an additional benefit to readers instead of a way to get me to love your book. What grabs me first is the blurb. If I read a few pages of your work and I’m sucked in, then you could live in a black hole and I’d still be on the outside telling everyone how awesome you are.
So what’s my overall point? As far as reading, my tastes are eclectic. I’ll pick up any title that grabs me and begs me to read it whether it’s hard science fiction, high fantasy, women’s fiction, or even military fiction (rare, but it has happened before). But all these things didn’t begin with customer service from the author. They all began with one book that I fell in love with. After the book was inhaled/gobbled/devoured, I then sought out the author online to see if they have a website or anything else. Sometimes they had a website. Sometimes it was just a list on Amazon–which was perfectly fine as long as I can find something. So if you’re an author and you hate Twitter and Facebook, it’s okay. If you dread book signings, that’s perfectly fine, too. But as a reader I just want to find your book online or on a bookshelf, and I want to be able to reach out to you and say how awesome it is! Help me buy your stuff!