Keeping readers interested between books
By Jade Craddock
Unless you’re Abbi Glines who seems to have a new book out every month, or at least every quarter (how does that woman do it?), the likelihood is that there will be at least six months, usually more likely a year, between your books hitting the shelves. Fans of your writing will eagerly await your next release and probably have the release date engrained in their brain. But in the lull between books it’s easy to slip off the radar, especially for new and emerging authors, and to lose the momentum and interest that you built when your last book was released. So how can you keep your readers interested, excited and involved in the meantime without eating into too much of your writing schedule? Here, we offer 10 time- and cost-effective suggestions. ♥
- Websites – An author website is one of the main ports of call for interested readers and fans, so keeping your website up to date with news, photos, interesting facts and content, as well as making it fun, fresh, and encouraging interaction and feedback is a great way to keep your fans in the loop and incite interest amongst readers. It’s great for readers to be able to find out what you’ve been up to, learn more about you and interact. However don’t worry if you can’t update your website every day, it’s just as crucial to have that online space where readers can go to find out more.
- Blogs – Whilst a website offers quite a fixed information source, a blog allows for a more personalised and evolving experience, updated with new information on a fairly regular basis that keeps track of the author’s thoughts, life and experiences. This allows readers to follow the author more consistently, but also gives the author an opportunity to keep the reader in the loop by informing them of milestones in their work. What’s more, authors are free to blog about whatever they want, so it doesn’t have to become a chore or be tied to your work. And you can blog as frequently or infrequently as you like (although obviously the less frequently the blog, the less readers will be inclined to visit and interact), fitting it around your writing time and using it as a fun outlet.
- Vlogs – Video logs are fast becoming a really engaging way for authors to connect with their readers and to give their fans something different and interesting. These don’t have to be high-production affairs or full-on episodes, just a five-minute or so video filmed at home is enough to fill readers in on any news and updates in your world.
- Novellas – Given that much of the time between the release of your novels is actually spent writing the novels themselves, the possibility of writing a novella as well, to keep readers going between publication, may be out of the question. However, novellas can be a good way of not only maintaining interest and keeping your readership on board but importantly can also generate buzz for your next novel, particularly if it bridges your previous and your subsequent novel or offers a prequel to your next novel. You can even write it at the same time as your novel, so that it’s all ready to go when you want it.
- Features/Q&As – In the month or so before and after the publication of your novel you’ll be participating in features, Q&As and the like here, there and everywhere. But after those manic couple of months, features and Q&As will likely whittle down to nothing and authors virtually disappear off the radar. Whilst you want to maximise your presence around the publication of your book, doing a few select features and Q&As here and there, especially with the bigger websites, blogs and media outlets, throughout the period between release dates can really help to keep you in the readers’ minds. Rather than actually doing these features and Q&As whilst you’re busy on your next novel, you can get them done whilst you’re doing all of your other publicity and just arrange it for them to be scheduled at intervals throughout.
- Social media – Perhaps the most vital part of maintaining presence and generating interest with your readership today, social media should be on every author’s must-do list. But many authors have also admitted the peril and distraction caused by social media, so maintaining a balance between being visible on social media but also getting your book written is paramount. Perhaps scheduling social media visits at set times, before or after writing, will allow you to write without distraction but also ensure you maintain that vital social media presence.
- Newsletters – It’s surprising how few authors have newsletters that they send out to their readers. Newsletters are a great way for authors to communicate their news, competitions, events directly with fans without too much hassle or having to deal with individual enquiries in busy periods. Crucially, they also make the fans feel more involved with the author. Having monthly newsletters obviously keeps the author at the forefront of the readers’ minds, and whereas the majority of other communicative tools outlined so far depend on the reader being proactive, here it is the author reaching out to the reader, which can send out a really positive message. Newsletters cannot match a direct email or social media communication with an author, but it allows for a regular and efficient way of maintaining contact and interest especially when an author is busy with writing.
- Competitions – There’s nothing that will gain readers’ interest more than a giveaway or competition. Again, surprisingly few authors really make the most of competitions. Mention has to be given here to Colleen Hoover who’s set the mark unbelievably high by offering a giveaway a day! But that’s pretty extreme, a giveaway just once or twice a year or monthly if possible can be just as effective. And if the giveaways are scheduled between publications again it can serve to keep interest and reader involvement. And giveaways don’t have to be elaborate; readers will be more than happy with a free book, and all the more so if it’s signed. If you’re able to offer interesting or grand prizes, all the better, but even these aren’t exclusive to the big-name authors. A competition to have a reader’s name featured in the acknowledgements or even as a character in the book is an amazing prize for any reader.
- Back Catalogue – So you’ve released your last book and you’re working on your next, what better time to remind readers of your back catalogue. I know that when I’ve just read a book that I’ve enjoyed I want to find out more about the author and their other books, so raising awareness of your back catalogue through newsletters, social media, your website, blog and competitions not only helps to raise your profile but encourages readers to continue to engage with your work and cement their interest so they’re even more eager when your next release comes along.
- Sneak peeks – One of the popular ways of inciting reader interest is to offer a sneak peek of your next book. Sometimes these tantalising excerpts are printed in your latest release, but in terms of maintaining reader interest between books I’m not sure this is always the best policy as it doesn’t bridge the gap between the books and can sometimes be frustrating because you have to wait so long for the next book. A better idea may be to print a copy of just the blurb of your next book in your existing book and then publish an excerpt or excerpts at various intervals between release dates via your website or newsletter. Alternatively, it may be an idea to print excerpts of previous books in your latest release. This doesn’t work as well for books in a series because it’s likely readers will already have read these, but for any standalone books it can encourage readers to pick up another of your books in the meantime and continue to develop your name.
With stories to write and deadlines to meet, keeping your readers updated and involved in your goings-on may not figure highly on your list of priorities, especially when your time is taken up with actually getting the next book ready for them. But with so many books on the market and so many authors to choose from, making your readers feel appreciated and involved will help to ensure that they’re queuing for your next book. And the suggestions outlined here aren’t time-consuming or difficult, yet can be hugely effective.
Ever since Jade Craddock can remember she’s loved books, as her groaning bookshelves attest (she’s pretty sure the house will need reinforcing soon so that it doesn’t collapse under the weight). With a PhD in English Literature, she had a valid excuse to read pretty much constantly for seven years. And although she’s finally finished studying, she’s still reading non-stop.