From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Loyalty

We are all working to build our own personal readership. Or as Seth Godin calls it, our "tribe." Every artist relies on their team of loyal followers for support. We couldn't do what we do without them.

So how do we cultivate that loyalty? How do we make investing in our books and stories worth other peoples valuable time--something our readers trust and will come back to time and time again?

Here are a few things we can do:

Be Generous. I like finding blogs of authors I love and seeing that they are just as kind and generous with their advice and comments online as their books are wonderful. Or just watching interviews online and seeing that my favorite authors are also kind people. It's always a little disappointing when they're not. So be generous and kind in your interactions with your readers, whether online or in real life. Because we're all equal, and we're all in this together, right?

Be Active. It helps to cultivate reader loyalty when we remain an active part of our readers lives. By that I mean we are actively providing work of value. I know the trend lately is for writers to pump out as many books a year as physically possible, and I'm not saying we have to do that. Writing a book takes as long as it takes. But we can interact with readers online or put out short stories or collaborate on an anthology or make YouTube videos or publish a picture book. Whatever works for you. I feel like J.K. Rowling has done a great job of this, if you think about it. It was a major moment in basically the everybody's lives when the last Harry Potter book came out, but Rowling has kept the ball...well, rolling. The movies were still coming out, and she put out the companion books like Fantastic Beasts and Beetle the Bard. Then she wrote more books and made Pottermore and an amusement park and is now working on another movie. Basically I just think its wise to keep things going, however you think its best to keep them going.

Be Consistent. It also helps if you can be part of a readers routine. I know, for example, that on Sundays, I can look forward to Anne R. Allen's weekly blog post (I was fortunate enough to be able to crash her blog party last week, if you haven't seen it.) I know that John Green will post a Vlogbrothers video every Tuesday, and that a new episode of Night Vale will post on the first and fifteenth of every month. Because these things are consistent, they become a part of my routine and I visit regularly rather than when I happen to think about it. We can create loyal fans by becoming part of their routine.

These are just a few simple mindsets that I think can be helpful in our efforts to cultivate a loyal readership. What other strategies for cultivating this type of loyalty have you seen work?

Sarah Allen


  1. I like Hugh Howey's way the most. He's never tried to form a tribe or following, he's always just wanted to share something he loved with others who might find it interesting. He's equal to his readers, he's one of us in that respect, and it's what makes him so pleasant to talk to and read. :)

    I also think humility and congeniality can take you a long way in appealing to the right people, who will then draw in more people to see your work.

  2. And you did a fine job at Anne's blog!
    Generous and interactive are so important. I might not be the greatest writer in the world, but I can do those things.

  3. And never let your agent come between you and your readers. Agents have a tendency to discourage readers from making contact with their clients, because the less direct contact, the more time they have to write and the more money the agent makes. And that is understandable, but when you write for children and teens, they want to be able to tell you how wonderful you are and maybe get a reply. I spoke to two YA writers at a science fiction convention. One said he was too busy - "if I answered my fan mail, I'd never get anything written!" Another, who gets a fair amount of fan email, said she had some stock replies which she tweaked when necessary.

    Recently, I read a post by an author who snarled at fans for daring to expect any kind of reply, but had left her email up on her site anyway because she wanted the egoboo. In other words, she wanted it both ways - fan mail, but no response from her. Never read ny of her books and never will now

    Well, George R R Martin and Barbara Hambly both have Livejournals. They can write when they have a spare moment and reply to comments or not, as they please, but their fans can feel as if they're being let in on their lives. And if they can do this, so can others.


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