Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fox in the Henhouse

I’m here to tell you: I don’t own those hens.

Nor does Nicholas Sparks or Kathryn Stockett or any other bestselling author you may feel compelled to chase.

Here’s the thing: avid readers suffer a delightful addiction. They can’t get enough. They’re continually on the lookout for the next breakout author, the next Great Read.

Top-selling authors understand this. Stephen King doesn’t own a voodoo doll of Suzanne Collins. Nicholas doesn’t don boxing gloves when meeting with Kathryn or Nora or J.K.

A successful writer concentrates on making the next release better than the last. We’re all foxes in the henhouse doing our best to capture that next reader, but this isn’t your average-sized chicken coop. Some nights I ponder the vast number of eReaders flooding the world marketplace and the sheer reach of literature in the Digital Age. Millions of readers—no, billions—and eLit is still in its infancy. By 2014 the surge in demand for quality content will outpace our ability to supply it. Yes, some of the Big Names will capture a massive audience but you might too, with creativity and perseverance, because your singular voice appears right when a worldwide audience is ready to hear it.

Which brings me to the real point of this essay. I want you to rid yourself of jealousy over the sales numbers your pal posted on FaceBook. I urge you to step back, take a deep breath, and fully grasp the connectivity at your fingertips, the limitless resources at your disposal to build visibility and a readership fast.

Be the fox.

Do you dream of becoming the next Harlan Coben? Head over to his Twitter feed and check out his followers. His avid readers may follow if you follow first. GoodReads? Pick an author in your genre and poach her fans a few at a time. Salivating over the comments for The Help from fans on Facebook? Follow one reader and she may follow back. Then she may tell her friends about you.

It happens to me.

The same women who read Sue Monk Kidd or Anne Patchett's books will put The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge http://tinyurl.com/cyp9kof  on their GoodReads TBR list. My debut, Treasure Me http://tinyurl.com/7kchmfd has pulled readers who enjoy comedy, romance and mystery—a blend that allows me to poach from a whole host of established authors.

No, this isn’t a suggestion to waste your working hours building a following of potential readers. Simply keep it in mind as you log on social media sites to chat with reviewers and your established readers. A few clicks, a few times a week, and you’re done. And you’ll enjoy the sudden mail by a reader you made your friend, who then downloads and loves your book. 

37 comments:

  1. What a great post and a reminder that we are in competition with ourselves to write better books. Thanks.

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    1. Stephanie, we all need to remember that we each possess a singular voice and that literature is best sung in a chorus.

      Many thanks for reading along.

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    2. I'm new to your blog, and am enjoying it already! I can't say enough about Goodreads...it's been incredibly helpful in getting my writing seen, shared, and reviewed! Thanks for sharing your wisdom :)

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    3. Thanks for reading along, Kim. I'm actually between blogs at the moment: my new posts appear at www.christinenolfi.com. I keep this old Blogger active because I haven't found time between writing and publishing to convert all the posts to my new site. Where do the days goes?

      GoodReads: so glad it's working out for you. Keep "friending" those readers who fall in love with your books!

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  2. Thanks for writing this!In the frenzy to connect and reconnect, the thousands of steps it seems are necessary to build a readership can definitely be overwhelming; it's nice to hear a soothing voice in the crowd providing a simple suggestion that anyone can do to build a relationship with new readers. Great suggestions!

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    1. Jen, we're all an introspective lot--why else would we spend hours alone writing--and the frenzy of social media can be disheartening. Finding one, true blue reader at a time makes all the difference. Gather up enough of those fine people, and word of mouth regarding your books takes over.

      Thanks for reading.

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  3. Thanks for reading along, John-Paul.

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  4. Great post, Christine, with some sensible, practical advice. At the end of the day, the most important thing is giving our readers something as phenomenal as we can make it and if we can do that, more readers will follow. The creativity has to come first. :o)

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  5. Carlie, you're absolutely correct. It drives me bananas when an author releases a fabulous debut then ... sits and watches the charts. It's all about writing those books that readers will adore.

    Happy writing, lady.

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  6. I don't know... I kinda like picturing Stephen King playing with voodoo dolls...

    But you're right. One of the things I like about the writing business is that you're really only competing with yourself.

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  7. No voodoo dolls! It's true, James--you're only competing with the last novel you published. Many thanks for reading along.

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  8. Great post! And what a lovely reminder that there is room for all of us writers.

    Also a great reminder that I need to update my Goodreads account! :)

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    1. Raiscara, your GoodReads account is an invaluable resource for connecting with readers. Here's hoping you'll keep it updated!

      Many thanks for reading along.

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  9. Great advice for all of us, Christine. Personally, I get excited when other writers succeed because it means that I can too.

    Tweeting your article. Have a great day. :)

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    1. Amy, I feel exactly the same way! Hearing the success stories means that any of us can make it in publishing. Here's wishing you success. xo

      Thank you for reading along.

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  10. This is such good advice. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Hi Christine!

    I guess I don't really understand what the term "poach" refers to in this context. Does that mean "recommending" your book to a fan of another author whose work is similar to yours? Just wondering! I never know on GR what is considered spam, so I end up doing nothing (not a good plan!)

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  12. Martha, if you check the GR friend list of another YA author and notice she's followed by avid readers or reviewers ... friend a few at a time. I think any author worth her salt knows she doesn't own her fans. In my experience, those fans will follow you back.

    Does GR consider this spam? I hope not. I think of the site as an open forum where authors and readers connect. Readers love becoming friends with authors because it opens the channels of communication. Of course, this means you will need to respond to a reader who sends you private mail. Actually, I respond to all private mail whether on email, FB or GR for the simple reason that many readers are aspiring writers, and it's thrilling to help a newbie author as she negotiates the road to publication.

    In my opinion, the "spam" on GR is this: I hate it when other authors send mass private mail touting a book. It forces me to take the time to open my GR mail when I have better things to do with my time ((sigh)).

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  13. Thanks so much, Christine! That's exactly what I was wondering about. No, I don't think GR considers that to be spam, but that last thing you mentioned is probably considered spam by anyone with a little common sense. Thanks so much for the explanation! Things on GR aren't always clear (;

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    1. Martha, of all the social media sites, GoodReads strikes me as the one place where "bashful people connect with bashful people." Think about it: most novelists are introverts. So are many readers. Introspective personalities tend to be a bit more polite, kind by nature ... and those invariably sweet-tempered readers want to hear from you! I've never made a friend request on GR to a reader that wasn't accepted. No doubt you'll experience the same.

      As a YA novelist, you're packing extra ammo even if you haven't yet realized it: many YA readers are young, from age 12 to age 35. They're technologically adept. They chat on social media every day. The reader you "friend" will probably tell her friends about you--and you'll discover your friend requests suddenly climb.

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  14. Great post, Christine! A much needed reminder. I pick up so much from you. Thanks for always being willing to share.

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    1. Many thanks for reading along, C.E. I'm thrilled to help other authors reach the recognition they deserve. Happy writing.

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  15. I agree! I've connected with many readers through Twitter who end up enjoying my books because I know from their feed that they enjoy similar works.

    That's the beautiful thing about readers: they always need more good books! :)

    Cyndi

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  16. Some great ideas; things I hadn't considered before. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Great post. It's nice to be reminded that e-publishing is in its infancy. Yay!

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  18. I'm a newbie hen, looking for the right readers. You just gave me a great idea. Thank You!!

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  19. Yeah, that is very true. The industry is so hard right now, we should be supporting each other, not crying in the bathroom over someone else's success. Great post!

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  20. My apologies to everyone who has left recent comments. I've been mired in a read-through of my next novel.

    Thank you for reading along. And happy writing!

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  21. Great post, Christine. Suggestions of simple actions with great potential effects. Just what we needed to hear.

    Cat :D

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  22. Great post. As a new writer this is very helpful advice. It's so easy to spend time focused on the wrong thing. Thanks for this!

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    1. Jennifer, focus on writing the best book possible and ignore any and all negative advice. Breakout novels appear every day in publishing--one of those books can be yours.

      Many thanks for reading along.

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  23. I've recently started posting poems, and soon a short story, to my Wordpress page because I decided to stop feeling upset about not being able to self-publish. This is a good article for kicking yourself into gear.

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    1. Happy to help! Heres wishing you all the best with both your poems and short stories. Many thanks for reading along.

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