WARNING: This article is going to mention some people by name. I hope I don’t offend anyone, since that’s the furthest from my intention. If anyone mentioned doesn’t like what I have to say, let me know and I’ll change it.
I’ve been fascinated with the idea of author connections for a while. For those not familiar, an author connection is where the author and the reader communicate in some way. Some people are active on social media. Some people do signings at conventions and book stores. Some people make videos or podcasts.
The simplest version of this is the author’s note. An author’s note is the small section in the back of some books where the author talks about what inspired them to write the book, or something about their personal life during the period.
Author connections can lead to better results for both the author and the fan. Authors want their fans to read and enjoy every one of their books. Fans want every book from their favourite authors to be enjoyable and entertaining to them.
The author connection can be the equivalent of an occassional, one-way pen letter between the author and their fan. Alternatively, though, it can be a two-way communication on a regular basis.
This two-way communication bonds the readers more closely with the author. It makes them much more likely to buy a book by that author when it comes out. It makes them more likely to leave reviews. And it makes them more likely to write an email telling the author about any problems they had with the book. All of that is to the author’s benefit.
For the fan, they get to feel like they are part of the process of writing the books. They can point to a place in a book and say, “That used to be unclear, I fixed that.” Or point on Amazon and say, “I wrote the first review of that book.” As someone who’s personally done the latter, it’s a good feeling. You feel like you’re helping out a friend.
Enough with the generalities, though. I’d like to give some examples of how author connections have worked on me as a reader. I think that these examples demonstrate just how powerful it is. To start with, I am a big fan of all of these people and recommend all their books.
I started watching the Self-Publishing Podcast in early 2013 and loved it. I watched every episode for a few months and then I decided to pick up a copy of Yesterday’s Gone by Sean Platt and David Wright. I don’t read horror. I’ve read perhaps 10 horror books in my life. I wanted to support them, though, so I bought season one.
I didn’t like it. It just wasn’t to my tastes. I don’t read horror. I don’t like the genre in general. They talk about Stephen King as a demigod, I don’t like Stephen King. So to expect that I would like Yesterday’s Gone was optimistic at best. Three months later, I bought Z2134.
Hopefully I’m putting across how insane that was. I do not like the genre. I didn’t enjoy their first book, but I still went ahead and bought another. That’s how powerful an author connection is. Because I watch their videos on YouTube, I almost feel like I know them. It’s a strange kind of one-way friendship. I know them really well and they don’t know me at all.
“My friend has a book out. Of course I’m going to buy it.” It sounds kind of stalker-ish, but being truly honest, that’s what it feels like.
The above is no commentary on their writing, by the way. They’re excellent writers. I just don’t like horror.
A second example is Garrett Robinson and Z.C. Bolger. They started a podcast called the Story-Telling Podcast. I listened and bought The Ninjabread Man. I really liked it. I then preordered their book Midrealm and preordered Wyrmspire. With those books, I enjoy reading them so I buy more of them.
What made me start reading their books, though? Author connection.
What makes me mention their books around the office? Author connection.
Tweet, share, etc.? Author connection.
What are the downsides of an author connection then? Well, I’m not in much of a position to comment, so this is speculation, but here goes:
1. It takes up your writing time;
2. You could say something controversial and get negative attention (1 star reviews, etc.);
4. Someone could say something hurtful to you that might negatively impact your life/writing. Or they might just say something that makes you compromise in your writing.
Should you start a podcast or video show? If you want a good connection and you’re willing to do it every week, then absolutely. In my opinion, though, it must be hard work. It must take a lot of time when you could be writing.
I, personally, am trying to come up with a way to connect online with the minimum amount of work. That way, I can write more and put out more books that my fans will enjoy.
Image credit: stokkete / 123RF Stock Photo
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