Find Your Readers

Present word count:  25,737

Okay, first of all I need to explain why I only wrote 447 words over the past two days (Sundays don’t count because I don’t write on Sundays). One of my cats, Peach, has been really sick and we thought we might have to put him under, even though he’s only 7 years old. We have two cats and he’s my favorite…in fact, he’s my writing buddy, so it’s been hard to focus. His little cat bed is in my office and he’s the one that bugs me every day around lunchtime so I’ll get up to go have some lunch. He keeps me on schedule, but with him being unable to keep food or water down, my schedule kind of suffered. Anyway, my husband took him to the vet today, not knowing if he’d be bringing him back. Yay! He came back. Hopefully, I won’t have to take him back for the last time if we get bad news about his tests. The good news is that my husband’s going on a business trip tomorrow and won’t be back until Saturday, so I get LOTS and LOTS of uninterrupted writing time…that should pick up my word count considerably. I promise to keep you posted about Peach.

And now…

Seth Godin’s Advice for Authors:

5. Don’t try to sell your book to everyone. First, consider this: “58% of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school.” Then, consider the fact that among people even willing to buy a book, yours is just a tiny little needle in a very big haystack. Far better to obsess about a little subset of the market–that subset that you have permission to talk with, that subset where you have credibility, and most important, that subset where people just can’t live without your book.

First, let me just say that 58% statistic is just sad. Sad, but probably true. I remember my shock when I met a woman in my previous church congregation down in Southern California who admitted that she never read books. She hated reading. Something inside me kind of shriveled up that day. Oh, well. These are obviously not the people we’re writing our books for.

It’s great to have big goals like writing and publishing a best-seller, some novel that whole new hordes of people line up to buy, but realistically, most authors are going to have to be content with developing their fan base gradually. The way you write and the things you write about are going to appeal to a certain group of readers. If you write genre fiction, you can try to capture all the readers of your particular genre, but there is so much out there that you’ll still only get a slice. You might increase your numbers by mixing a couple of genres and getting crossover appeal. But, hey, a 10,000 reader slice sounds terrific to some of us! I have several author friends who easily surpass that and I’m honored to know them.

The key is building that relationship with your readers once they happen across your orbit, so that you can keep them coming back. First, I think you need to keep providing a steady stream of product for them. This means, of course, that you can’t afford to sit back on your laurels. You’ve got to keep writing because they’re always asking when your next book is coming out. Second, you need to be responsive without letting them take over your life. Third, you need to be very visible online these days. Those are just my ideas.

I’d love to hear what my more experienced author friends have to say on this subject. How have you found your readers? More importantly, how have you kept them?

Originally posted 2012-01-30 17:55:14.

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6 thoughts on “Find Your Readers

  1. I can relate to having a cat help you. Our daughter brought home a cat (she became mine, but don’t tell my daughter that). She used to climb up in my lap and purr away. I got some terriffic writing done that way … until she started trying to help … in the middle of a writing chat that was under strict protocol. Our daughter took the cat with her when she moved out :-(

    • Yes, Peach usually only stands for so much writing before he climbs out of his bed and plants himself squarely in front of my computer monitor, demanding my attention. Now, I wish he would do even that. I’m afraid since I brought him home from the vet’s last night that he’s slipping downhill fast. He stays in the other room and simply won’t eat or drink. It was all I could do to give him his meds this morning.

  2. The 58% statistic makes me want to cry. Of course, I read WAY more books than the average person, so now I can just claim I’m trying to balance out all the people that don’t read books, right?

    • That’s one good thing about there being more writers than ever. Writers tend to be terrific readers. It’s as if we’re all in one big book club!

  3. So sorry to hear about Peach, makes me miss my babies. I’m hoping that he makes a full recovery. I know that with my babies, especially BooBoo she was very attached to me and whenever I left for a long period she would just shut down. Renal failure, sad. Also, that 58% is something I hadn’t realized. What is wrong with that percentage? Don’t people realize you can go places, experience things and learn from reading? So sad. Thankful to my mom for sharing her love of books with me daily.

    • Kathleen, I’m doubtful about a recovery because he just won’t eat or drink. The vet had him overnight Tuesday night and almost all day yesterday simply to get him rehydrated and run more tests. They even force fed him a few times and, at least, he didn’t throw up. So, she encouraged me to bring him home, thinking he might try eating again on his own in a setting he’s comfortable in. No luck. I’ll keep you posted.

      I’m sure you’re carrying on your mom’s example with Dallin when it comes to reading, right? So much of the love for books depends on the example set by parents.

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