10 Ways to Build Stronger Relationships with Your Readers

In the past it was tough for authors to connect with readers and build relationships. The only methods you had were

  1. Writing more books, and building up the relationship by readers reading more and more of your books. Thereby developing a stronger bond
    1. Admittedly, this is a very powerful way to build a strong relationship
    2. It might still be the best way to create strong relationships – write lots of high quality books
  2. The back cover of the book. The back matter of the book
  3. Doing real world events like book signings
  4. Asking them to sign up for your mailing list (though very few authors used to do that)
  5. Attend Book Conferences and Expos

You will notice that apart from writing more books, these methods are hard to scale up, and usually expensive

Nowadays, it is Much Easier for Authors to Build Strong Relationships with Readers

Now, with the advent of the Internet, mobile phones, social media, and other technologies, it is possible to build very strong relationships between authors and readers in a multitude of ways

Crucially, it is possible to do this rather cheaply

Here are 15 ways you can build stronger relationships with your readers

1. Delight your Readers with Excellently Written Books

Joint Most Important (along with Work with Human Nature, and Write More Books) is to Delight your Readers by writing really good books

Readers are looking for great books and very good books. The best way to form a very strong relationship with them is to write such books

Here are various things to keep in mind

  1. Draw them into the story world, and then make sure to keep them there via good writing and congruence (everything must fit the story world)
  2. Do rewrites of your book and make sure it flows smoothly
  3. Get a very good, professional editor and ensure the book is well edited. This increases reader pleasure and also keep keep them immersed in the story world
  4. Get a good proofreader and make sure there are very few spelling mistakes and close to zero grammatical errors
  5. Make sure you satisfy the genre expectations (unless you specifically are looking to break them for a good reason)
  6. Make sure you satisfy the genre conventions and rules (again, you are allowed to break these if you have a good reason)
  7. Use things such as open loops, overlapping stories (not too much), well fleshed out characters, good descriptions (not too long) to increase the readers’ immersion into your story world
  8. Create tension and drama, if the genre accommodates them
    1. If the genre allows for tension and human conflict, your book will almost always be more compelling if it is included
  9. Always be increasing the amount of reading pleasure readers can get from your books

If you start focusing on how much readers enjoy your books, and figure out ways to measure it (things above and beyond review rating and sales), you will be able to deliver very high reading satisfaction

This will greatly strengthen the bond between you and your readers

2. Write More Books

Joint Most Important, alongside Delighting your Readers with Excellently Written Books AND Working with Human Nature

First measure of reading satisfaction is – How good one individual book is. How much pleasure did the reader derive? Was it one of the highest ‘reading highs’ the readers has ever had?

Second measure of reading satisfaction is – How many times can you give the reader this incredible, beautiful ‘reading high’?

Obviously, if you have just one book you can give the reader that reading high just once. If, on the other hand, you have 10 books, and hopefully they are all well written, then you can give the reader ten reading highs

The more excellently written books you have, the stronger the relationship with your readers

Please Note: This makes a big assumption. That each of your books has some way to inform the reader that your other books exist. That each of your books has some way to get the reader on to your email list or blog or social media account, where you will later inform them your other books exist

3. Give more value for money

Here is a saying from Henry Ford

  1. The Man who will use his Skill and Constructive Imagination to see How Much he can Give For a Dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is Bound to Succeed

Now, with ebooks and with cheaper printing options, authors and publishers have the option to deliver higher value for money. Instead, most large publishers are trying to sell ebooks for prices higher than paperbacks. This creates an excellent opportunity for authors willing to offer more value for money

Figure out ways in which you can give more value to readers

  1. Offering the first book in your series free or at $0.99
  2. Box Sets
  3. Periodic discounts
  4. Offering one of your books free, if you have 4 or more books. Use one free book as a loss leader and generate sales for your other books
  5. Trying different price points ($0.99, $2.99, $4.99, $9.99) and seeing what price point works for both you and for your readers
  6. Offering follow-on short stories focused on popular characters
  7. Offering a free book to anyone leaving a review
  8. Running contests where readers can get a signed hardcover of your book
  9. Writing better books
    1. Yes, this is the thing readers would appreciate the most, even more than free books

The more value you give to readers, the more they will give you back in return (provided you make it easy for them to do so). It will also greatly strengthen your relationship with readers

4. Deliver Consistent Quality

If you maintain a high quality bar, so that all your books are at least ‘very good’, and some are great, then readers will know you deliver consistently

  1. No low quality books – no danger of ‘reading pain’
  2. Consistently very good books – guarantee of ‘reading pleasure’
  3. Some (or a few) great books – the elusive ‘ultimate reading high’

Of course, ideally you deliver ‘great’ books consistently. However, even if you can’t do that, you must make sure none of your books are ‘painful’ or low quality. Each book must at least be very good quality

5. Stay in Touch

Your relationship with your readers is just like all human relationships

  1. You stay in touch and the relationship stays strong
  2. Remember them and think of them on some special occasions and let them know. Christmas. New Year’s. Spring. When you release a new book. When you do a special discount
    1. Let them know that you thought of them
  3. Nurture your relationship with your readers by doing monthly (or weekly) updates and articles
    1. Give them a glimpse of your writing process, of what you have in store, of yourself

Staying in touch is half the battle

6. Ask for Help & Ask for Reviews

Reciprocation is one of the fundamental principles underlying human nature. If you write a good book and give readers pleasure, they will be glad to RECIPROCATE. What is very interesting is that you asking them for help, and them helping, strengthens the bond

  1. If you need Help, then ask for Help
    1. Those who will help, will form stronger bonds with you
  2. If you need Reviews, then ask for Reviews
    1. The act of writing a good review makes them like your book more and you more
  3. If you are having a discount and would like them to take a look, and tell their friends – then ask for their help
    1. Them recommending you to their friends will strengthen the bond
    2. Them buying a deal from you, will also strengthen the bond

Think back to your friendships – they are built on shared experiences and helping each other. Very few friendships are built on ‘I will never ask this person for anything’. On the contrary, it is by helping and getting help that relationships are formed and strengthened

7. Offer Special Deals

If you think of your readers as ‘special’ (and you should), then make it obvious to them

  1. Let them know before anyone else, when you do a special
  2. Have special offers that only they can get
  3. Is there a very popular character?
    1. Write a short story featuring that character, and share it only with your most loyal readers

The more you offer them ‘specials’, the stronger the bond

8. Write what they are Asking for

This is very tricky. We are NOT asking you to write what 1 or 2 or even 10 readers asked you to write

You instead have to write what perhaps they don’t even know they want to read

  1. Figure out what their buying habits and reviews are telling you
  2. Figure out if there is some pain point that a lot of readers share (not a few, but a large number)
  3. See what they are doing with their actions (not what they say with their words)
  4. See what they are buying (and not what they say they will buy)
  5. You have to capture what lurks in their mind. This is not portrayed by what readers say. It is captured by observing their actions, their purchases, their reviews, and their behavior

If you can ‘listen’ to what their actions and behavior are saying, then you can give them what they really need

And that is one excellent way to make the relationship stronger

9. Write something Unique (while still matching genre expectations and requirements)

One of the best ways to stand out and make yourself a ‘must read’ author, is to write something new and unique

  1. It should be something that either breaks genre expectations and makes readers rethink the genre, while still delivering high reader satisfaction
  2. Or it can be something that doesn’t break genre expectations, and yet still delivers a very new and unique reading experience

For every genre, readers have a set of genre expectations and ‘must haves’. This ensures they get what they are looking for. At the same time, it gets a bit repetitive and predictable

So, any author who can either

  1. Break genre conventions and still deliver the reading high these readers were looking for
  2. Or
  3. Deliver genre conventions and also, at the same time, create something new and unique

instantly stands out and becomes a favorite of readers

10. Offer Exclusive Content

One of the best ways to greatly strengthen your relationship with your readers, is to offer your loyal readers some exclusive content

  1. It can be a novel or novella or story featuring some of their favorite characters. Available only to them, your most loyal readers
  2. It can be the option to purchase signed hardcovers of your book
  3. It can be custom merchandise
  4. It can be invitations to special events like book launch parties
  5. It can be exclusive ‘meet and greet’s with you, the author
  6. It can be the ability to provide special input into your future books
  7. It can be a special peek behind the magic curtain, to see how you write your books
  8. It can be small gifts like custom bookmarks featuring their favorite characters

The more successful and skilled you are, the more these things will mean to your readers

And the more such things you offer, the stronger the bond will become

11. Make real world connections

There is no substitute for face to face interactions. You have a plethora of options

  1. Book Signings are still a great way to connect with readers
  2. Book Conferences, Book Expos, and Trade Shows are a great way to meet readers, other authors, and publishers
  3. Setting up meetings with Book Clubs, setting up Library Book Signings and Readings, visiting schools and colleges (officially), and handing out copies of your books at local bookstores, are all ways to get some real world interaction (and some new readers)
  4. Get on local radio shows and local TV stations. Most local shows (radio and TV) are eager to feature local residents who are doing something interesting
  5. Your friends and family are another resource. You can throw a book launch party, with invites for everyone you are close to, and everyone that they know who are readers

It is far trickier to interact with readers in the real world, as you are revealing a lot more of yourself. Make sure you have security and privacy issues covered

12. Reveal more of Yourself

Well, right after warning you about security and privacy, we will suggest that you reveal more of yourself

In the end, readers will buy more of your books if you are a fellow human being

  1. Tell readers more about yourself on your website, your blog, and your social media accounts
    1. Tell them what’s going on. We can all relate to what is going on with your life, because we have all faced similar situations
    2. It makes you human
  2. Reveal good things and bad things
    1. The more flaws you reveal, alongside the good qualities, the more authentic you will be, and the more readers will like you
  3. Talk about how you write, why you write, and what your writing plans are
    1. People who love your books will be fascinated
    2. People who have not yet read your books will be intrigued
  4. Don’t create artificial barriers. Answer your emails yourself if time permits
    1. Respond on Twitter and Facebook, if time permits
  5. ┬áDon’t think of readers as beneath you
    1. If you do, it will come across sooner or later, and then you will lose readers

If we see another person as human, we are far more likely to do business with them

13. Price in a Reader Friendly Manner

One of the ways you can strengthen your bond with readers is

  1. Value their money and price your books in a reasonable and approachable manner
    1. If two different pricing schemes will make you almost the same amount
    2. And one of them is much more reader friendly, then choose that reader friendly pricing scheme
  2. Don’t make it too hard to try out your books
    1. There has to be a loss leader. Either a discounted book, or a free book
  3. Don’t make it hard for your loyal readers to read your books
    1. Don’t bump up the price of new books to unreasonable levels

Having a little compassion and empathy for your readers, and their financial situation, will go a long way

14. Care about your Readers

Try and care about your readers

If you do, it shows. Then it gets readers to buy more, and greatly strengthens the bond

15. Work with Human Nature, not against it

Perhaps the most important point, and tied with ‘Delight your Readers with Excellently Written Books’, and ‘Write More Books’, is to

  • Work with Human Nature, and not against it

At every point of time in life, we get the option to either

  1. See Reality As It Is, See Human Nature As It Is, and work with it

or

  1. Pretend another Reality exists, where humans are perfect and perfectly rational creatures

If you choose the former, you will be very successful, provided you are writing very good books for a market that exists, and writing lots of books, and doing good marketing

If you choose the latter, it is very hard to succeed

In some ways, Working with Human Nature and not against it, is the single most important thing you can do in any aspect of your life

When building relationships with your readers, and when selling books to them,

Always work with Human Nature

Never work against Human Nature

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