Tag: book fans

book fans

Authors and Books and Readers, Oh My

 Crime conference season is still in full swing. Thrillerfest takes place in New York City in a couple of weeks. (Yes, I’ll be there!) Bouchercon happens in Florida in September. Dozens of other events are scheduled worldwide between now and November. I counted 17 on Sisters in Crime’s upcoming events calendar. Libraries also kick off their summer reading programs this time of year. They host author events in conjunction with their efforts to encourage people to get out and read. This Saturday, June 30, from 1-3pm, I’ll be at the Dixon Public Library in Dixon, IL as part of their Summer Author Series. Author events and conferences have several things in common—authors, books, and readers. Beyond that, they’re as different as, well, authors, books, and readers. Some feature moderated panels. Several authors answer questions they may or may not have received in advance. Some feature interviews. Someone, usually an author, interviews the featured guest author in front of an audience. Authors read from their works at some events and give prepared speeches at others. Sometimes an author hosts a table. Readers may spend the entire event seated with the table’s host or they may move from table to table and meet several. These events usually involve food. Yum. This weekend’s event at the Dixon Public Library is a meet and greet and Q and A. Readers will ask me questions and I’ll try to answer them. What’s your favorite format for author events?

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Author Newsletters. Just another part of writing.

These days, authors don’t merely write books, they also have newsletters. Do you need one? If you are scrambling to finish a manuscript, edit another one, and promote yet a third, you may think, NO. Not another obligation. But a newsletter can be both useful and fun. It goes directly to ‘your people’. Your top readers. They want to hear from you! So stop procrastinating and write one. DON’T think of it as an email. Think of it as communicating. A few basics: Use a mail service such as Mail Chimp. This will keep your list clean, and perform the due-diligence required by law for unsubscribe options. Don’t get hung up on the term Newsletter. Think of it as a personal message. This will also inform the content. Prepare for writer’s block when the cursor hits the page. This isn’t fiction. Your heroine isn’t going to speak and take over the story and get you to the end of the newsletter, ahem, personal message. It’s all YOU! Take a moment and think about what’s on YOUR mind right now. Are you preparing to launch the next book, recovering from a launch, starting the next installment in a series? Have you read a bunch of great books, attended a conference where you met hundreds of readers, taken a trip to research your work? What’s going on in your life that informs your work? Are you cooking recipes from a 100-year-old cookbook because you’re thinking about an Edwardian mystery, or digging holes for trees because you are trying to take a mental break from writing? Tell your readers about it! What would you write to a best friend who lives too far away to see in person? Now take out the really personal bits (you know which ones they are) and leave the tone and remainder of the content in. A handy formula: Why are you writing in the first place? What does your audience need? That equals your ideal content. (Hint: you are likely targeting readers, not writers. Even writers are opening Lee Child or Louise Penny’s newsletters as readers.) Frequency? No easy answer here. Too much and you are spammable even to people who want to like you. Too infrequently, they forget who you are and the email scrolls by unread. We are back to the formula. Why are you writing in the first place? What does your audience need? That equals your ideal frequency. Give it a try. You can always adjust, improve and if necessary pause and start all over! Either way, stay in touch with readers. They are your tribe. Stay connected. 

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