Attracting a loyal readership as a fiction author is an extraordinary accomplishment, marking a significant milestone in your career. Fiction fans are not only a reliable source of repeat business but also the most likely to recommend your works, with word-of-mouth continuing to be an influential marketing tool.
Many authors mistakenly assume that their devoted following needs little attention and that their efforts should be focused solely on writing more books and acquiring new readers. However, this belief is far from accurate. Fiction fans appreciate direct engagement, often participating in book signings, following authors on social media, or reaching out via email. They crave more interaction, not less.
This presents an incredible opportunity to further energize your core fanbase, turning them into even more passionate advocates of your work.
Here’s what you need to know about engaging with fiction fans as a self-published author:
Engaging with Fiction Fans
Here are seven things fiction fans want to hear from their favorite authors:
1. “In my next book…”
The mere mention of a new story is a source of excitement for fiction fans. It’s not just promotional—it’s an integral part of the author-reader relationship. By keeping your audience informed about your upcoming projects, you foster a sense of anticipation and involvement. This strategy helps maintain the interest of your readers, ensuring they remain eager for your next release.
Continually updating your readers about your progress also holds you accountable. It’s a balance between building excitement and managing expectations. Avoid overhyping, but keep the spark alive. This approach demonstrates respect for your fans’ enthusiasm and ensures you deliver on the anticipation you’ve cultivated.
Bonus tip: Keeping yourself publicly accountable is a great way to force you to deliver the goods. Announcing you have a story in the works increases the likelihood of coming through on your commitment.
2. “I know you.”
Personalized acknowledgment is a powerful way to connect with fiction fans. Hearing “I know you” from a beloved author can be an unforgettable experience for a reader. It shows you value their loyalty and remember their support. This personal touch deepens the bond between you and your readers, making them feel like a significant part of your authorial journey.
Remembering details about your interactions, even if it requires a bit of online research, goes a long way. It’s about showing appreciation for their consistent presence and engagement, which reinforces their dedication to your work.
3. “Come hang out.”
The digital era has revolutionized how authors interact with their fans. Virtual gatherings, be it on social media or through online forums, offer unique opportunities for engagement. These platforms allow you to answer questions, participate in discussions, or share moments of humor. It’s an inviting way to maintain a connection with your audience, regardless of geographical barriers.
Moreover, these online spaces are not just for direct interaction with fans. They also serve as communities where fans can connect with each other. Facilitating these fan interactions creates a thriving community centered around your work, further cementing their loyalty.
4. “Just for you.”
Offering exclusive content is a fantastic way to show appreciation to your fiction fans. This could be anything from behind-the-scenes insights to special character interviews that only true fans would appreciate. Such content resonates deeply with your audience, offering them a unique experience that sets them apart from casual readers.
This approach not only rewards your most loyal fans but also incentivizes others to delve deeper into your work. It’s a way of saying thank you, creating a sense of exclusivity and belonging among your readership. Moreover, sharing exclusive content can be creatively fulfilling for you as well.
Bonus tip: Sharing exclusive gifts on your email list works really well because those who sign up tend to care the most about what you do.
5. “What do you think?”
Engaging your fiction fans by soliciting their opinions is a powerful way to demonstrate that you value their perspectives. Whether it’s feedback on story elements or opinions on potential new projects, inviting your readers to share their thoughts fosters a participatory and interactive relationship.
This strategy not only generates interesting discussions but also provides you with valuable insights. However, it’s crucial to approach this with openness and readiness to consider diverse viewpoints. This inclusive approach strengthens your connection with your audience and can lead to improvements in your writing based on their feedback.
Bonus tip: Be aware of the vocal minority when assessing feedback. The loudest may not represent your entire audience, or even most.
6. “Please help.”
It might seem counterintuitive, but asking your fiction fans for help can be a positive aspect of your relationship. Whether it’s for book reviews or promotional efforts, seeking assistance from your readers can strengthen your bond. It shows that you value their role in your success and believe in the strength of your community.
Most of the time, you should be focused on making your fans feel special. But every so often it’s okay—and expected—that you seek their assistance.
Why? If you’ve been treating your core following well, they’ll want to reciprocate. It’s not presumptuous to request aid if you’ve built sufficient goodwill. Just remember that asking for favors is only possible if you take care of your tribe early and often.
Bonus tip: Everyone benefits when you’re explicit about what you need. Want more reviews? Ask for that and provide direct links to the web pages where your books reside.
7. “Thank you.”
Finally, regularly expressing gratitude to your fiction fans is crucial. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in acknowledging the support and loyalty of your readership. It’s important to show your fans that you don’t take their support for granted and recognize their contribution to your success.
Specifically articulating why you are thankful can deepen this sense of appreciation. This practice benefits not just your fans, but also you as an author. It fosters a positive environment and reminds you of the community you have built around your work.
Bonus tip: Finding ways to say “thank you” is good for your fans, but it’s really good for you too. Gratitude practice will make you happier.
Engaging with fiction fans requires a blend of anticipation, recognition, interaction, exclusivity, solicitation of feedback, requests for support, and expressions of gratitude. These seven key expressions can significantly enhance the relationship between an author and their fanbase, fostering a loyal and engaged community.
Editor’s note: This article was originally written by Jason Kong but has been updated and rewritten by The Book Designer editorial team.