Where are the Readers? by Natalie R. Collins
I’ve spent over 30 years as a writer, editor, and proofreader. Most recently, I wrote a book called Ties That Bind from St. Martin’s Press. I spent time as a news journalist and also as an editor for the Sundance Film Festival. I’ve written about 15 books, including a ghostwritten book that someone else lays claim to writing, and I still can’t answer this question.
Where are the readers and how do you promote to them without offending them?
I am also getting my bachelor’s degree in graphic and information design, which includes social media, and I’ve spent time on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Slideshare, LinkedIn… The list goes on and on. I know social media. I blog. I do book giveaways. And I cannot convince myself that I’m not just preaching to the choir: other writers.
So I wonder. This is a blog that is aimed at readers. Just readers. How do you choose the books you read?
Do you belong to Goodreads? I joined there, but I don’t know what to do, because all that happened is a bunch of people befriended me and then sent me links to buy their book. “Fellow writers” they call themselves. And that’s all fine and dandy, but I kind of thought Goodreads was about the READERS.
Do you ever write Amazon reviews? Last year, a man came out in a story in The New York Times and admitted that for a fee of thousands of dollars, he would write five-star after five-star review on Amazon. Some writers even write their OWN reviews and barely try to hide it. If you should happen into an Amazon “readers forum,” don’t say the word writer. You’ll be lucky to come out with your arms and legs intact. Authors, and specifically self-published authors, have gone off the deep end with promotion. Which is ridiculous, when you consider for the most part they are preaching to the choir.
I have more than five thousand friends on FB, and had to block my timeline for approval only because of constant author spam. They befriended me to sell their book. But I’m another writer. Shouldn’t they be trying to find the readers?
Yes, writers are usually readers (or should be) but they aren’t just readers. They are writers first. That’s a conflict of interest, at least to me. I’ll buy your book if you’ll buy mine doesn’t really work for me. I want to read a book that makes it worth putting aside my busy schedule. I don’t want a “favor” book.
So I have a Facebook fan page, and supposedly that’s just fans. I have 900 of them. Whereas Lisa Gardner has 30,000 or something. She has found the readers. I am one of them. I want to ask her secret, but don’t know her that well, even though she gave me a blurb for my first book, and am not sure she can tell me. It’s just one of those things that happen. And how does it happen?
Wives and Sisters sold more than 75.000 copies, so where are those readers? Did I lose them with this book? I don’t know. There was quite a span of time between books, which my editor claims is a death knell for writers. But I needed the time to write a good book.
So, you might have read Wives and Sisters, and then forgot it because after Behind Closed Doors, nothing new came out until now.
How do I make you remember? I think I’ve figured it out.
The way to find readers is word of mouth. That’s right. A reader picking up a book or reading it on their Kindle and then telling their friends, “You have to read this book.” That is how a book reaches readers. So that means that while the pressure is still on me, as a writer, it’s not to market correctly. It’s to write a book that makes people want to say “You must read this book.” To their friends. Their relatives. The lady at the bookstore. That is how The Hunger Games and Twilight became so phenomenally successful. People were talking about these books. Online, in their homes, to their relatives and friends. They were reading them at the dance studio, while they waited to pick up their child. They were reading them in the dentist’s office and the doctor’s office, and while their tires were being rotated.
And when someone asked what they were reading, they spread the word. It’s a writer’s job to sell their book, but there’s only two real ways to do it. Buy enough copies yourself that you hit The New York Times list (yes, this does happen) or write a book that a reader cannot stop talking about, even when they have reached “the end.”
My daughter, who is 18 now, texted me late one night. I answered, and she told me that she had just finished the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and she couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was running over and over in her brain, and she wondered what she would do. How she would handle it. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t stop thinking about the book.
And that, my dear readers, is how a book is marketed. I’ve written some pretty good books, but I need to get these books in the hands of real readers. I don’t want reviewers. I have nothing against them, but I want real readers. The ones who make a difference.
And so, I am offering a one-time special. I will send an autographed print copy of Ties That Bind to the first 20 readers who respond to this blog. Send your responses to Nataliewrites @ gmail.com (Take out the spaces; I just don’t want spam). Tell me why you would be interested in reading this book and promise to tell me why you liked this book, or why you didn’t. I promise I do not attack. I want to know. In addition, the first 10 responders will receive a free e-copy of Latter Day Secrets or Killer Instincts. Your choice.
I want to find the readers, because I have stories to tell, and I want to tell them right.
You can find my booklist here.
And by all means, feel free to drop me a line and tell me what inspires you to buy or not buy a book. How you choose your reading material. Does price weigh in? Are you a faithful reader, or like to switch it up with different authors? All of these things make me wonder, and hearing from readers will make my day. I promise.
Natalie R. Collins has ten published books, has worked as a ghostwriter on several other books, and is currently working on revisions for her fourth book with St. Martin’s press, Angel of Destruction, as well as a YA, her first. She has written for Penguin Putnam, Thompson Gale, and still currently has a contract with St. Martin’s. She spent five years as an editor at the Sundance Film Festival, has worked in journalism, and her critically acclaimed Wives and Sisters, received excellent reviews, including one from Kirkus, calling Collins “…a talent to watch.” Natalie lives in Southern Utah with her husband and completely weird dog.
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