Reader Friday: Reader-Writer Connections

The question up for grabs today is directed at you as an author. Last week, Steve asked a question of us as readers: how do we connect with writers? What’s our go-to platforms to find new favorite authors with whom we can adventure?

This week, we’ll reverse poles and come at it from the opposite direction.

How do we as writers connect with new readers/followers?

Today, we will discuss questions that are dear to my heart as a relatively new author. I have published four books of my own, plus I was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I have two more books in the hopper. But those numbers are small—not insignificant by any means—but still small compared to most of you.

One of the authorish tasks I have the most difficulty with is reaching out to new/more readers and followers. I have a website where I publish a monthly blog, and I send out a monthly “newsletter.” I try to not market my books too heavily, but to include content about life in general in 2023, and sometimes what I’m curious about. I also try to include shout-out references/links to other authors, editors, and cover designers.

I do attend events, but mostly local as I am not much of a traveler. I like to say, Sure, I’d like to see XYZ location, but can’t I just be beamed over there?

So, over to you, TKZers! Steve and I are hoping to hear your tips/tricks/ideas—different methods you use to bring new readers/followers into your fold.

Wow us with your ideas, what has worked for you, and maybe what has not worked for you.

How do you attract new readers/followers?

What are some methods you’ve used to market yourself, not necessarily your latest book?

Do you ever conduct a survey of your current readers/subscribers to your blog or website to find out what content they’d like to see? What kind of response do you get?

Is there something you’ve tried in the past that has completely bombed? Do tell.

If you had to choose only one approach to connect with new readers/followers, the one that consistently produces results, what would it be?

Happy Friday, and thanks for playing the Connections Game with us today!










Deb Gorman lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes stories of redemption and reconciliation. Her next book, No Tomorrowsis due to be released this fall. You can connect with her at her website:

34 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Reader-Writer Connections

  1. I wonder if the answers depend on the genre. The hubster, who reads science fiction, never reads author newsletters and only one author’s blog. He picks up a new-to-him author’s book purely through Amazon ads, Bookbub, and that one blog when the author recommends a book.

    I read new authors when I see interesting snippets on Twitter and good reviews on book review blogs.

    As an author, I connect with new readers on Twitter (but it takes a good hour a day to keep up with my Twitter posts/responses). I also write a weekly column for the local newspaper and get to put a line about my latest book in the byline. And once a month I chat on the local radio station about writing, so my name is getting out there, but I can’t say anyone’s bought a book because of the radio… maybe some day.

    I don’t have a newsletter. I’m not active on FB. I have a blog, but it’s strictly for book reviews to promote Christian fiction. I don’t promote myself there (though people could dig through the “about” and find out about me).

    • Good morning, Vera. Some great ideas.

      Good point about differences between genres, as to how readers are receptive to different routes of communication. I like the idea of writing a column for the local paper and being able to mention your book in the byline. And the monthly radio station chat, that’s great. The one hour a day on Twitter is something I can’t find time for.

      Wonderful ideas! Thanks for participating.

    • Good morning, Vera, and thanks for coming by this morning.

      A radio chat! Now that’d be right up my alley, since I hate cameras. How did you get started? Were you invited, or did you sleuth the station out? How much time do you get, and what kind of topics do you chat about? Do folks call in to talk to you, or is it a monologue? I’d really love to hear more…

      • Hi Deb,

        There’s a writers group in the area, and years (decades) ago the club secretary knew someone who knew someone who worked at the station. The station has a morning talk show with happenings in the area, so Ms. Secretary used her noggin and suggested the monthly chat. It’s conveniently the morning of our writers club meeting.

        No, no one calls in (which is good because I’m not great at answering questions on the fly!).

        I chat back and forth with the morning host about the writing topic of the month or what our guest speaker is going to talk about. If we have a guest speaker, he or she often comes to the station with me.

        • Thanks! It sounds fun and informative for sure. I live in a fairly small town, with a local radio station. And in my area, we’ve recently formed a local authors’ group, about 35 of us. It came about after a multi-author event at a popular bookstore in our town. This sounds like maybe a possibility for our group to investigate.


  2. I have a monthly newsletter with perks for subscribers, and a reader magnet for new members. What article gets the most clicks? A recipe.
    I have a blog which is more or less M-W-F, but there’s a disclaimer saying my posts don’t adhere to a strict schedule, so bookmark or subscribe to the blog (separate from the newsletter).
    I have a Facebook Author Page that’s for engaging. There’s that 80-20, or even 90-10 “rule” for the social:marketing ration.
    I’ve done BookSweeps to attract more newsletter or BookBub ads/deal.
    Do I follow up on the metrics? No. So I have no idea other than the occasional “I’m reading your books” emails and reviews to get a very unscientific feel for which, if anything is working. Until there’s a “what drew you to this purchase?” button on the sales channels, I’ll probably never know.
    I did do a workshop for Debbie Burke’s Authors of the Flathead writing group last night, via Zoom. It was great fun, but whether I’ve picked up new readers? Who knows?
    I’m in it to write more than anything else.

    • Thanks, Terry, for a look at where you find success.

      I enjoy reading your newsletter, although, I have to admit that I pay as much attention to how you put your newsletter together, as to all the content. It’s beautiful. You should do a post here at TKZ on “Building a Beautiful Newsletter.” And, I check out your recipes to pass on to my wife.

      I wish there were a way to create and use a “What drew you to this purchase?” button. That’s part of what we’re trying to discover with this blog today. I wonder what it would take to motivate readers of our books to click on such a button that would take them to a check-off list on our websites to report what communication or marketing led to their purchase.

      Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience.

  3. Hey, Terry! These are great tips. And I echo Steve about your stunning website.

    Maybe I’ll try a recipe or two.

    For me, the most blog post/newsletter clicks happen when I write about animals or bugs. What gives with that? My next newsletter will feature a previous dog we owned, a beautiful Chou/Samoyed mix named Bear, and what happened when she met a bunny out in the orchard. It was one of those hysterically funny life moments. Wish we’d had a camera.

    I’ll be looking forward to your “Building a Beautiful Newsletter” TKZ post.

    Have a great day!

  4. Some how we have to let readers know we’re out there. I do it with blogs —I post twice a week, on Tuesdays with a Mystery Question for readers to solve and on Fridays with a review of a book I’ve read. I don’t know how successful it is since I’m trad published but I’ve gone from 20 views a day to around 200.

    I also blog on four other sites at least once a month. I like interacting with readers on blogs because I don’t fall down a rabbit hole once I’m done like I do when I interact on Facebook. Lol

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Patricia.

      “Somehow we have to let readers know we’re out there.” You’re right. That’s what it boils down to. 200 views per day is fantastic! And you must be extremely busy to be able to read and review a book a week. Wow.

      Do you notify readers that a new blog is out? Or do you use social media to invite people to your blog?

      Great ideas and success. Thanks for participating.

  5. I also blog on four other sites at least once a month.

    Okay, Patricia, I’m curious. What other sites do you blog post on? You have four other sites, or they belong to someone else and you guest post?

  6. Wish we could figure out what attracts readers but it remains a mystery to me.

    Ads have never worked, maybe cuz I don’t write good ad copy. Facebook made good connections until I had to close my acct. b/c of repeated cloning. Twitter doesn’t do much b/c my heart just isn’t in it.

    Personal appearances are the most effective for me. I do a number of book talks a year with other mystery authors. (Pro tip–one author isn’t much of a draw unless you’re a big name. Two or three authors together makes it an event that is easier to promote.)

    I also talk with book clubs. If the club reads one book in my series, usually they buy additional series books.

    For years, I’ve done interviews at the local radio station to promote our writing group’s annual conference so the hosts know me. Recently the producer had a couple of last minute cancellations and called to see if I could pinch hit (one morning, with three minutes notice!). I said yes and the surprise interviews went well. Did I sell books from that? I don’t know but additional name recognition can’t hurt.

    • Wow, Debbie. Great advice and tips!

      Thanks for the pro tip on personal appearances. It would be great to have a small group of writers – a team – to work with. Good reminder on book clubs.

      And that radio interview with three minutes notice is amazing.

      Thanks for the advice and inspiration!

  7. Thanks for chiming in, Debbie!

    Personal appearances are the most effective for me.

    I think this is important also. I have my first (1st, numero uno) paid appearance coming up Monday. (Cue Deb taking a bow with knees knocking.) I’ll be speaking to a group of writers, called Storywriters, about an hour away from home, who are all pre-published as yet. I have a 40 minute time slot, which will be about the extent of my publishing knowledge. 🙂

    I mentioned a multi-author event above, and you’re spot on about these being more productive (and fun!) than a one author gig. Before I attended it, I had no idea there were so many published authors in little old Yakima, WA. I heard several others say the same. So we have formed a group and have already planned two author events this fall.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Debbie!

  8. Great series, Steve and Deb. Lots of good comments.

    Most of my sales have come from doing book promos. I’ve had the good fortune to have had a BookBub featured deal on each of my novels, and they generated lots of sales. I’ve done other promos which also sold a lot of books, but Facebook ads were not useful for me at all.

    I’ve also done a blog tour for each of my books. I post to Twitter (X) daily, but don’t usually market my own books through my posts. I’m on FB and IG, but don’t post often. My own blog is dedicated to other authors’ works and the craft of writing in general. I believe (hope) it helps in name recognition. Although I can’t quantify it, being a contributor to TKZ has been a huge boost for me.

    Although I love the relationships developed through in-person events, I haven’t done any of those for a while.

    • Hi Kay! Thanks for sharing your comments with us.

      I keep hearing Bookbub in conversations here. I really must check it out.

      And I do have an X/Twitter account, but don’t use it often. Another avenue for us.

      Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Kay.

      Great reminder of book promos and BookBub.

      There are probably multiple places to sign up for blog tours. Are there any you would recommend? Your own blog featuring other writers is excellent, and a good way to pull in new readers and increase name recognition.

      Thanks for participating.

  9. A few years ago, when I was actively writing and marketing my work, I tried several strategies. They included:

    Review tours arranged by a company. Individual reviewers who had their own websites would post a review, and I would show up to interact with commenters. Virtual no one commented. The only upside was that the reviews were also posted to Amazon.

    Purchased email ads through about 15 different ad companies. I timed my ads so that I knew which ones resulted in sales and tracked where the sales occurred. I didn’t sell enough to do much beyond paying for the ads, but it did help my numbers on Amazon to make my books more discoverable. The tracking helped me focus on which advertisers delivered value, and about half of them didn’t.

    Review swaps, mostly arranged through groups on Goodreads. Yes, you can’t do direct swaps, but GR offers some round-robin groups that avoid the issue. Readers don’t seem to buy books from authors they don’t know if there are no reviews. Also, many advertisers won’t take your ad until you meet a review threshold. The sweet spot seems to be in the 15-30 reviews.

    Ads on sites that offer merchandise giveaways in exchange for visitors signing up for author newsletters or follows on social media. It was a surprisingly successful way to get a mailing list going. When I later did a book giveaway through my website by using the mailing list, I got a good response.

    An anthology giveaway. I got together a group of SF/Fantasy authors to produce short stories for a book. The idea was that all the authors would promote/dig up reviews so we’d all have the chance to find new readers. Almost none of them did. It was a ton of work and at least in my case, did not result in sales/readers discovering me. I created a book trailer for the work that also did not result in promoting the work.

    Garry Rodgers has posted columns here on TKZ about how he promotes his work. My methods were very similar to his except that I never created a blog and didn’t continue long enough writing and promoting my work because of life circumstances.

    • Thanks, K, for sharing. You’ve had quite the wide experience, I must say.

      It seems from your comments and others’ this morning, that name recognition from ads, reviews, blog posting, and newsletters are almost as important as sales.

      Could be an important point in goal-setting for us newbies. 🙂

  10. Thanks, KS.

    You have provided a wonderful list of approaches and your experience with each. This is very helpful for new writers setting their course and strategies. Your experience and your results are very interesting.

    Great advice!

  11. *How do you attract new readers/followers?*

    My publisher does a lot of the heavy lifting here, managing promotions on Goodreads, Bookbub, and a bunch of other online promotions both here in the USA and abroad. Personally, I used to/will soon again attend a number of different conferences that cater to the mystery/suspense/thriller genres. The point of the conferences, though is less to attract new readers than it is to be available to current readers and fans. It’s also important to stay relevant in the minds of industry bigwigs.

    At the end of the day, though, the only thing that sells the backlist is the front list. Writing stories keeps fans happy, and fans build my reader list through their recommendations to friends. This formula is as true in these days of internet technology as it was fifty years ago.

    *What are some methods you’ve used to market yourself, not necessarily your latest book?*

    I attend meetings and conferences where my likely fan base hangs out. I go to the SHOT Show every year in Las Vegas because that’s where I am likely to find the latest toys for Jonathan Grave and his team to use. I hand out a lot of business cards there, and I presume that sells a few books. Also, I make a lot of media contacts out there, which leads to appearances on shows like “Talking Lead”, which is all about firearms and the politics that surround them. Through such appearances, I hope I inspire a reader or two to give my books a shot. Shortly before the pandemic, I was a keynote speaker at the Virginia Homicide Investigators Association, where I met dozens of new friends and potential readers.

    And, more recently, I was blessed to fall into a regular drive-time radio slot in my local community.

    *Do you ever conduct a survey of your current readers/subscribers to your blog or website to find out what content they’d like to see? What kind of response do you get?*

    No. I don’t know what I would ask.

    “Is there something you’ve tried in the past that has completely bombed? Do tell.”

    I’ve had very little success with the old school major chain book signings. B. Dalton and Walden Books events were the worst. Now, I try to focus my signings at independent stores where I know the owners like my work and they do a good job of promoting my stuff.

    Curiously, one of my best signing events was in the lobby of an indoor shooting range.

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that traditional giveaways like pens and coffee cups are a waste of money. I’m not sure bookmarks do much better, but at least they’re an ongoing marketing piece.

    *If you had to choose only one approach to connect with new readers/followers, the one that consistently produces results, what would it be?*

    Write the next book. And the one after that.

    • Thanks, John, for that treasure trove of advice.

      Your advice, that writing the next book that keeps fans happy and keeps reader-to-reader recommendations flowing are the foundation of success, is golden. Something for us to shoot for.

      Thanks for your comments!

  12. Hey, Mr. Gilstrap! Was hoping you’d have time to stop by.

    Some of what you say translates to me this way: a good deal of attracting new readers has to do with being available to them. Serving them instead of being served.

    And I like this: Now, I try to focus my signings at independent stores where I know the owners like my work and they do a good job of promoting my stuff. There’s nothing like local.

    And I really like this: Curiously, one of my best signing events was in the lobby of an indoor shooting range.

    We belong to our local range and train once a week. But, alas, I don’t write crime/thriller stories.

    Thanks, John! Have a great day out there in the woods…

  13. Echoing Brother Gilstrap, the best marketing is between the covers of your book. Swing for the fences every time out. This is probably 90% of it, because all the marketing glitz and glamor won’t make fans if your books don’t resonate (which means more than mere competence),

    I do get 50-75 new signups per month through a free novella on BookFunnel. My monthly e-letter is thus my primary marketing tool. BookBub is next on the food chain.

    I’ve never been able to figure out the secret of CPC or CPM ads, except that they suck up money quite effectively.

    • Thanks, Jim, for your advice. Much appreciated.

      “Swing for the fences every time out.” I love that. And write a book that resonates. The foundation for success. Everything else has to be built on that.

      I have to believe that all the speaking engagements and your nonfiction books are also a huge factor in your success.

      Thanks for all your teaching here at TKZ!

  14. Thanks, JSB. (What is CPC and CPM?)

    BookFunnel is another one I have to investigate. I have offered some story freebies on my website, but haven’t used BF except as a reader receiving the gift.

    And, yes, I believe the tried and true, oft-repeated The best way to market your book is to write the next one should still be front and center in my marketing plan.

    Have a great day. I sure am, deep into you-know-what . . . 🙂

Comments are closed.