Are Readers Important
authors speak of their fans in almost reverential tones, as well
they should. A loyal readership that comes back for more, book after
book, is the real key to long-term publishing success. Savvy authors
work diligently to produce great work that will continue to please
their audience, but many of them also communicate directly to their
fans. Author’s web sites are all the rage, some of them quite
Burke is the founder and President of FSB Associates, http://www.fsbassciates.com.
Her company specializes in publicity utilizing the Internet and
author websites. We asked Fauzia: What is the most unusual
publicity program you've developed? “We’re
proud of our ability to harness all the power of the Web in the
service of authors and their books, and we’re especially committed
to making the online presence fit the project. Here are some examples:
site for Doug Stanton’s In Harm’s Way goes
beyond words and pictures to include audio interviews with survivors
of the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis, video clips of the
actual rescue at sea, and a discussion board. Our campaign introduced
the book to many audiences, from World War II vets and history buffs,
to college and high school students.
Christopher Rice’s supernatural thriller A Density Of
Souls, we used animation and graphics to create an online gathering
place that echoes the eerie atmosphere of the book, and added exclusive
material like a virtual yearbook from the New Orleans high school
of the story, and back-story on the characters. We even helped promote
Chris's appearance on MTV's Real World.
used cutting-edge animated maps in our site for Rick Atkinson’s
Pulitzer Prize winner An Army At Dawn, to illustrate critical
points in the Allied assault on German-held North Africa in 1942-43.
Animation helps bring alive our site for Tony Horwitz’s Blue
Latitudes, combining a sea chart that traces the voyages of Captain
Cook with excerpts from corresponding passages in the book.
we don’t use bells and whistles for their own sake. Our site
for Mitch Albom’s novel The Five People You Meet In Heaven
called for a simpler approach that lets the warm story and the wonderful
writing take center stage. Because this is the kind of book people
love to share, there’s an e-postcard that fans can send to
their friends. There are teaching guides, and reading group materials,
and a Q&A with Mitch. And for the Spanish edition of the book,
we’ve created a Spanish-language site that will help broaden
the audience even more.
all these books, we also waged word-of-mouth campaigns designed
to attract attention, site traffic and media coverage. In the end,
these coordinated efforts produced the most satisfying of all results
a few author websites are just storefronts whose major purpose is
to sell books. Others have a much more intimate feel, inviting visitors
to: “Come on in and meet me. Stay and chat.” With all
the other pressures on their time, why do bestselling authors go
to the trouble of answering fan e-mail, or posting responses to
message boards on their web sites, and continually upgrading them
with information about their new project or where they will be appearing?
Nicholas Sparks, www.nicholassparks.com,
whose first book, The Notebook set a new standard for romance,
answers the question: You interact with your fans more that
many authors do. Your web site is particularly interactive, with
message boards and an e-mail address for fans to reach you. Why
did you take this approach? “People have so many
questions about my novels or want to know about me, and there's
a lot of misinformation out there. I wanted to have the correct
answers put up where readers could easily access them. The web site
is a way to make sure the truth is getting out there. For instance,
the question, Where did I get the idea for The Notebook? If I say
it was inspired by my wife's grandparents, this is very much the
truth, but not much information. Readers want to know more: How
was it inspired? In what way? How did that whole thought process
work? So I explained the whole situation so the readers understand.”
that interaction encourage the word of mouth buzz about your books?
“Maybe a little. But not everyone cares about what an author's
life is like. They just want to read a good book.”
has written 29 novels, mostly historical sagas and romances. She
resides in Australia, her primary publisher is in the United Kingdom
and her books are sold worldwide including the United States.
asked Anna: Romance authors seem to have a more personal
relationship with their fans, interacting with them on web sites,
message boards, Internet chats, book readings. Why is that? What
does an author learn from this interaction that assists her with
her work? “I'm not sure it's just romance authors.
I think it's a woman's approach. I happen to believe that if you
put something back into the universe it will bring good karma. Or
as my daughter puts it: What goes around, comes around. But I also
keep in touch with readers because if you can 'attach' readers as
well as writing good books (the latter is the prime pre-requisite)
they go out and talk about your books to others.
learn a lot from readers' emails about what has particularly pleased
them. That doesn't hurt. Also writing is a very solitary activity,
so it's nice to be in touch with others. And we all need feedback
and praise. I'm as human as any other. I love to hear that someone
has enjoyed my books. It's much more fun than sales figures.”
Elizabeth Phillips, www.susanelizabethphillips.com,
is the only five-time winner of the Romance Writers of America Favorite
Book of the Year Award; inducted into the Romance Writers Hall of
Fame, 2001— pioneered, and some say, perfected the “romantic
comedy” school of fiction. writes with a touch of humor. We
asked Susan: You seem to interact quite a bit with your
readers through your web site. You even mentioned there were several
categories of fans you have, those who enjoy the humor in your books
and those who are more attuned to what happens to the characters.
How does the fan interaction shape your writing? “I
love my readers, but I do my best not to let their comments shape
my writing in any way. About ten years ago, the light finally went
off in my brain and I truly understood that every book I wrote would
be somebody's favorite and somebody’s least favorite, that
everybody in the world (gasp) wasn't going to like my books. This
was intensely liberating. It told me that to do my best work I concentrate
only on pleasing myself. Truly the biggest ‘Aha Moment’
of my career.”
not only romance authors that have their own website, Stuart Woods,
http://www.stuartwoods.com, writes hard hitting mysteries and
has been on the New York Times Bestseller list many times.
answers the question: You are one of the bestselling authors
who regularly corresponds with readers via e-mail, why?
“It gives me a direct kind of feedback. I get a sense that
what I’m doing is the right thing to do. I’ve never
made any changes in what I do because of what I’ve heard from
readers. The vast preponderance of people love the books and write
to tell me so.”
it’s not just the household name authors who value their readers.
most recent book is “The Veil of Night” an intense,
sensual remaking of the Gothic genre, with a mysterious Duke, a
crumbling manor, and an older heroine with her own secrets to hide.
told us: “To be absolutely crass, if I didn't have fans, I
couldn't make money. And if I couldn't make money, writing would
be a hobby, not a job!
fans are important to me for far more than financial reasons. My
desire to become a writer started with the ghost stories I used
to tell around Girl Scouts campfires. I loved how I could affect
other people, how I could thrill them, excite them, and make them
care about the people in my tales. The pleasure that other people
get from my
storytelling is a major motivator for me. If it weren't for that,
I could be perfectly happy to leave my stories in my head where
Connolly is the author of the Richard and Rose series of books,
romantic suspense novels set in the mid eighteenth century. Her
latest book, "Harley Street" came out in March, and pits
the new Lord and Lady Strang against their deadly enemies, Julia
and Steven Drury in a tale of old transgressions come to test new
asked Lynne: Why are your fans important to you as an author?
“They validate my work, tell me that I'm on the right track.
Fans aren't unthinking admirers, and can often give you information
you never had before. Their encouragement keeps me going, and presenting
my work to publishers and agents with confidence. Economically,
they buy the books, making it possible for me to write more and
for my publisher to continue having confidence in me. I sit at home
all day on my own with a keyboard for company. Fans connect me,
help me to keep on target. And a fan is a reader. They complete
the link, the communication between writer and reader.
“The Jewel and the Sword” was just released by Medallion
Press. She tells us fans are important to her because “For
me, fans are the end-all-be-all of the writing experience. Finishing
a book is a terrific feeling. Selling that book to a publisher is
an amazing feeling. Having that book accepted by the reading public
is better than both! Why are they important? Because without them,
my stories would float indefinitely inside the walls of my hard-drive.
No purpose. No reason for being. Fans give the stories life.”
a few minutes this summer and find out a little bit more about your
favorite author. If you really enjoyed their last book, let them
know. They would like to hear from you.
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