I'm super excited to be taking part in the first ever digital romance festival supported by so many amazing publishers, people, and organizations. I'm not quite sure who to thank, but you can take a look at the impressive list here.
I've been reading since the age of three and have been a reader for 27 years. I can't tell you of a time when I wasn't reading. Other children would get in trouble for talking in class, etc. while I'd be the one not paying attention to the lesson because I was reading a book. I recently reconnected with someone I went to elementary school with. Her question to me on a social media site was, "Is this the same Chanpreet who used to read 300 pages a day in the 5th grade?" It cracked me up and I replied with a resounding, "Yes!". These days it's not about the page count but about the stories and the journeys I go on with the characters.
While I've been reading for many, many years and have read thousands of books, I've only been blogging for a number of years on various sites before starting this one at the beginning of the year. I have a few suggestions and observations on how bloggers and authors can have a better relationship.
1)Communicating with your readers. I used to read a book, fall in love with the characters, and upon finishing, immediately e-mail the author letting them know how much I loved their book. More often then not, I got a reply back and I can't even begin to tell you how excited and happy it made me. I literally thought, "This person wrote this amazing book and they're talking to ME?!".
I still get really excited when I see an e-mail or notification from an author acknowledging what I've said to them or about their books. Of course these days, I may not send an e-mail, but I will look for your website, Facebook page, Twitter handle, your backlist, and any future books due for release. I will follow everything immediately and read everything as well.
I know many times you're too busy or you're overwhelmed with all the tweets and messages, but even if it takes a week or two, or even longer, I still love hearing from you!
2)Social Media is your/my/our friend. Continuing in the vein of #1. Social media is a great way for readers and bloggers to get to know you, your writing process, and your books better. You become more personable and readers get the sense they are getting to know you.
There are a number of authors whose blogs I follow. I feel as if I've really gotten to know them even though we've never met in person. In some cases, I feel like I know them better than the authors I have gotten to meet. After all it's not just the books you've written that connect us, it's the little bits and pieces you've put of your selves that we connect with too.
I absolutely love it when authors ask reader opinions on their covers, scenes they might be struggling with, etc. I know beta readers often help the most with content, but it really does make me feel somewhat important if I can give my opinions even if they aren't used.
3)Using teasers/excerpts. I have a love/hate relationship with these but know they are so useful. I love them because they give me a little glimpse into the book and give me the desire to read more. They don't have to be very long, perhaps a line or two. I hate them because I always end up wanting to read more and it's not available for me to read. (The silver lining in the waiting is that I devour the book when it does become available.) However, they do go a long way to capture reader's attentions.
4)Make contacts. This is a little tricky. If a blog or reviewer has read your book and enjoyed it, reach out and let them know when your next book is coming out. Perhaps they'd like to review this one too. On the other hand, less favorable reviews hurt. It's definitely bad form to get into an argument with a reviewer about their opinion, just as it's bad form for a reviewer to attack an author for any reason at all. Perhaps if you find a reviewer/blogger on the fence about some of your books, starting a conversation about a certain point can help clarify whatever was causing them confusion. On the other hand, it may just show you another view point.
I've had an author reach out to me once or twice because I mentioned something that had bothered me on their blog. In one case, I enjoyed discussing the points and reasoning with them and never once did I consider her rude or inappropriate. I loved talking to her about her characters and the reasons why she wrote them the way she did. Doing so showed me a totally different aspect to the story I hadn't even considered!
5)Trusting bloggers. The relationship between authors and bloggers is a mutual one. We depend on you to write beautiful stories we love and you depend on us to help get the word out about said stories. I am always astonished by how effusively some authors thank me for sharing a link or reviewing their book. I often feel as if the praise is undeserved especially since all I did was connect with what was written, however I do realize we all work together to get the word out about books we love and want to read.
I know piracy is a huge deal. Put watermarks in your ARCs that you give out and I know it's tough, but try to individualize them so if someone does the underhanded thing and posts it out on the internet for free or their own property you can catch 'em and deal with them accordingly.
6)Writing what is true to you and your characters. I think this point is really important. You already know what you write isn't going to win everyone over. If you have doubts you can always ask your agent, editor, publisher, readers, friends, etc. about what they think should happen. In the end as long as it fits your characters and their story, go with it. Trust your instincts. All of your faithful readers may not love it, but you'll be gaining so many more new ones who will. So write what makes you happy, and the readers will love you for it.