You probably think you know all there is about your book. You wrote it, after all. You edited it numerous times and then you worked with an editor to fine tune it. You’ve heard/read me say that you (the author) are the best one to promote your book because you care more about it than anyone else in the world. And you, presumably, know more about it.
But you can still learn more about your book from your readers. Listen and they will tell you what they like and dislike about your book, how the story or information affected them, whether the material is useful and so forth. You will also learn from readers who your actual target audience is.
You might think it is young adult readers, when older women are actually devouring your story. You might have written your self-help book to help people break bad habits and later discover that your audience actually comprises their spouses, caregivers, friends, coworkers…
How do you discover these surprising truths about your book? By mingling with your readers. Don’t stay at home with your promotional to-do list and continually promote your book to the same demographic. Especially if sales are weak, it does little good to aim your sales pitch in the same direction over and over again.
Get out and meet your readers at book signings, related club and organization events, at conferences and book festivals. Set up speaking engagements in cities locally or nationwide.
You can meet your readers online, too. Participate in forums on the topic or genre of your book, and spend more time listening than speaking. Get active in websites related to your topic/genre.
Create an interactive aspect to your website so people can respond to your questions or share their impressions of your book.
You’ve heard me suggest these things before, haven’t you? This is something you should be doing throughout the process of promoting your book. But, today I am asking you to use these opportunities to truly get to know your audience.
Based on the comments from your readers, you may decide to shift your focus from one target audience to another. If you used digital printing technology or created an ebook, it’s relatively easy to make changes to your book periodically. You can update your book to include things your readers have asked for, correct mistakes they have found or give your novel a more interesting ending, for example.
I’ve known authors who bypassed the opportunity to hire an editor and who paid for it through really negative reviews. Some authors are wonderful storytellers, but truly awful writers.
Do yourself a favor and listen to your readers, even if it becomes a little painful. If your goal is to produce a meaningful, useful and/or interesting book, then you might actually want to have honest friends and colleagues read your manuscript before publication. Put away your ego and pay attention to what they tell you.
And, once your book is published, rely on your readers again—to tell you the best way to promote it.
For more about writing, publishing and promoting your book, read my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. My readers rave about this book. You can read some of the testimonials at my website—look along the left side of the book page: http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html
You still have a week to sign up for Patricia Fry’s online Book Proposal Course. Learn more here: