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How Do You Develop and Use a List of Your Readers?

Build Your List

One of the pieces of information authors are finding invaluable is a list of their readers. If you want to announce a new release, a promotion or a giveaway, the instant access to a list of your readers is priceless. It could mean an instant jump in rankings and an increase in reviews both critical to the success of your book.

The reader list is being used to develop friendships and relationships far beyond the sale of your novels. Building a list is a lot like farming. You cultivate the field. You plant the seed. You watch it grow. Then you harvest the crop.

It is study time again and I am fortunate to have a group of outstanding, award-winning authors whose opinions I value highly. I challenged my HBS Author’s Spotlight crew and over 25 authors responded to the study. Here what they had to offer.

Why develop a reader list?

There are many reasons to develop a list. Of course, an opportunity to increase sales or obtaining reviews is at the top of the list. Developing relationships and gaining followers is a close second.

Build Relationships and Friendships

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

I lean heavily on popular social media platforms to build and maintain reader’s lists. More accurately put, I use social media to engage and build relationships with my readers. Using social media, I allow readers to come into my life and share in experiences that they can relate to, from the view point of one woman to another.

I think heavy engagement with my followers via social media is one key aspect to building my reader list. Due to the viral nature of things like Facebook and Twitter, if a fan “likes”, retweets or comments on anything I post, the friends of my fans can usually see it, attracting a sort of viral attention to my social media presence.

Author Carolyn Hughey @ScribBLINGDIVA (K. T. Roberts) (Website) is a published author of humorous contemporary romance and mystery novels.

I frequent Facebook and leave comments about whatever they’ve posted on various walls even if we’ve just met. By doing so, I’m building a friendship. The one thing I won’t do is become their friend and ask them to buy my book. I’ve seen that happen a number of times and I think it’s sneaky and bad business practice. I never advertise my book on anyone’s wall but my own. I also offer contests throughout the year.

What are the methods other authors use to find their readers and build relationships?

Provide something of value

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

I’ve chosen the path of using my writing about real-life scams and cons as a way to improve my reach to new potential readers. While some authors are naturally outgoing and can interact with readers about the most minor details, I’ve found that’s not one of my strengths. What is a strength is my knowledge of how to help those same people avoid being taken in by a scam. As a result, that’s the focus for the majority of my outreach.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

My mailing list was initially grown through my online writing school, Bootcamp for Novelists. When my partner and I closed the Bootcamp we had about 750 subscribers. Since then it dipped to a low of about 620 but is now up to just under 700.

My problem is that I’m not quite sure what to put into each issue. I don’t want it to be a ‘buy my book,” “buy my book” kind of thing and my last major use of it was to solicit readers for my most recent new release. That was very successful and most of my posts on Bootcamp activities (I still do some) are successful. But pushes on my backlist are not so well received.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

I offer a free ebook download of an earlier book if people subscript to my newsletter, and people sign up pretty regularly. I know that some people subsequently cancel the subscription, but that’s okay. It’s also a promotional tool — if someone is browsing my site, they have a chance to “sample” my work. In the end, I’ve ended up with a pretty substantial email list, and the “free” book hasn’t cannibalized sales at all because the ebooks that I offer for free have continued to sell just as well as always.

Suspense Author Suzanne Jenkins @suzannejenkins3 (Website) is the author of the Pam of Babylon series and The Greeks of Beaubien Street.

HI James, the way I am building my email list is to give those who sign on a free download of a short story that is a prequel to a new series I’m planning. I advertise the download on my Facebook page and have used the paid boost on Facebook, too. I also use Booktweetingservice.com to tweet about it. Here’s the link. http://suzannejenkins.net/.

Author Lorhainne Eckhart @Leckhart (Website) is the Author of Kindle Bestseller THE FORGOTTEN CHILD.

The methods that have worked well for me are by offering free books, for example the first book in a series free. What happens is it drives sales to my other titles in the series. It’s a great way to find new readers. At the end of all my ebooks I always provide an afterword with a link to sign up to my newsletter and I notify my readers of upcoming promotions and new releases.I advertise every month and always join other authors in giveaways of larger prizes and promote our books together. I occasionally participate in blog tours for new titles, but when comes down to it, providing the link to sign up for newsletter in the afterword of my ebooks, on my website, Facebook page has had the biggest impact.

How should you use social media programs to develop a reader list?

To me, Twitter and Facebook are a shotgun approach to building your list. I do have a good group of followers and I try to interact but links to them are fragile. Here’s what my crew had to say.

General

Mark Barnes @markbarnes19 (Website) writes Mystery novels and Educational, non-fiction books.

As an education author, my publishers have tight marketing budgets, so I need to publicize my work as much as possible. Twitter is my best network. Over the years, I’ve acquired more than 10,000 followers, and they have helped get the word out.

Facebook is another powerful network, and I’ve created pages for my books and for my blog. Brilliant or Insane is another excellent tool, as I publish education blog posts there daily, and my books are advertised there, too. I have an email list, but I’m not sure it’s worth the time and money that goes into it. In the long run, I believe that writing and sharing content, which leads back to your promotional material, is the best marketing a writer can do.

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

In the beginning, Twitter was the best, then Facebook. Now neither have much impact in my opinion. I still use them as well as Goodreads and LinkedIn. They are still excellent ways of promoting new books, new ideas, etc., but they don’t really add to the number of readers.

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I’m mainly on Twitter and Facebook. I use Twitter for most of my interaction with fans, and usually only promote on there once a month when I run a BookBub ad. If you’re constantly promoting, you’ll lose your existing fans, and you’ll be unfollowed. Twitter is a great place to connect with fans, meet new people, and meet fellow authors. I resisted signing up at first, but now I have almost 50,000 followers, and I tweet almost every day. You can find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cherylbradshaw

Twitter

Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

When people follow you on various social media sites it automatically gives you a link to their profile that they have created. The site automatically compiles a list for you of fans who are interested in your work and you can use that to reach your readers by posting updates.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

I haven’t used these mediums to get subscribers to my newsletter. I do belong to a Twitter tweet team and am convinced it keeps me in front of readers because every time I stop, my downloads dry up. To increase my mailing list, I mostly do occasional blog hops or giveaways that increase new subscribers. Many of these actually stay, but some don’t, being they were motivated more by the prizes than because they think I’m a fascinating writer. Most of my stable new subscribers come from programs where I appear personally and do a presentation. The rest of them come from my blog and my website, both of which have subscriber icons. I’ll be working harder on making these effective over the next couple months.

Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden (Website) is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.

For me personally, I focus most of my efforts on Twitter because this is where I can find the bulk of my audience online. It’s not just about using social media to promote, as an indie author it’s also important to use the right social media sites. I follow certain people on Twitter in order to find more potential readers. Book bloggers, book readers and other authors are often open to buying indie books.

Facebook

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

On Facebook I promote through targeted ads which point back to my Facebook author page and sometimes also link to a new book or one of my novels. It’s inexpensive and effective, and I’ve found it’s a good way to reach my demographic. Through targeting you can isolate your ad so it only shows to potential readers in your genre, thereby giving you the best bang for your buck.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I have a Facebook author page, where I post notices about upcoming events, reviews, and links to articles I find interesting. This page is entirely about writing and the writing world. I never post anything about my personal life or views.

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

Other than the signup link for my newsletter on my website, I build my readership by meeting great new readers on Facebook. I’m getting more on Twitter, as well, but Facebook is where you build a rapport with new readers, and also meet other authors who will share your work with their readers. I am also on the others, like Goodreads and Google+ but have not quite mastered them. Another great way to meet people are Yahoo Groups.

What other ways can you use to develop a list?

There are other ways to build that list that are more direct. Some of the Spotlight crew weighted in on them.

Newsletters

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series

For the last two short stories I wrote, I also announced on my Facebook page that if someone subscribed to the newsletter they would be able to get a coupon for a free copy of the short story for a limited time before it was published on Kindle. This was probably my most successful tactic in getting fans to sign up for the newsletter. I now have 420 subscribers to the newsletter.

I have only sent out 5 newsletters–again, only when I have a new publication–but my average open rate is very good (65.5%) and my click through when I offered the coupon for my latest 2 short stories was 70-80% (very high.)

When I published my last book, I was fortunate in having Amazon put it up as a pre-order, and I had 700 people pre-order it. I assume that many of these were people who knew about the pre-order through my social media (website, Facebook, newsletter, twitter, etc.) My goal is to make sure that I have an even larger number ready to order the next book. :)

Using blog tours and Meeting bloggers

Ellen Mansoor Collier (Website) is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines. Ellen just released the third novel in her Jazz Age mystery series: Gold-Diggers, Gamblers And Guns

I don’t use much social media myself, but I hire blog tour hosts who do—and it works for me.

Also a couple of readers started adding my books to Listopia on Goodreads and I found a few more lists to help categorize my mysteries, e.g. books set during the 1920s, historical mysteries, etc.

I admit, I haven’t joined the Twitter or Facebook craze myself but I have a Facebook page that I don’t update and do enjoy reading tweets from various friends and famous folks. What’s worked best for me are meeting bloggers via blog tours. When I first wrote FLAPPERS, I approached a few bloggers directly and gotten some positive responses from people who have turned into friends. Since then, I’ve discovered that bloggers are most likely to reply if you have a tour host to help promote your book. For only $25-30. and up, these experienced book tour hosts will do most of the work of setting up reviews/interviews and guest posts.

Sure, there’s a lot of preparation involved on some tours, but you can choose from a wide variety of hosts and services. They’ll tweet about your book, posts and reviews during the tour and often spotlight you on their own blogs. I’d opt for a tour that focuses on your genre (in my case, historical mysteries). Ask around, compare notes and see which tours come highly recommended by fellow authors, and try to find the best one for your book. Amy Metz has a new tour service specializing in mysteries that’s affordable and effective—try it out!

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

What groups do you use to find your readers? All of these. (Support groups, Forums, Blogs, Author Networks, etc.) However, I mostly stick with the ones like (links) DorothyL, Murder Must Advertise, All Mystery Newsletter, and the like. I love guest blogging because, quite frankly, I just don’t seem to have time to keep my own blog up.

Blogging

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

Another useful approach is blogging. I blog weekly on my own blog and have been visiting other blogs once a week for my new book; after the first four to six months I cut back on visiting other sites to once or twice a month through the rest of the year. I have a regular monthly entry on Author Expressions, for writers published with Five Star/Gale, Cengage.

The important point about blogs is to write on a variety of topics that are mostly related to my books–travel, India, Indian food, New England features, the New England paper industry, writing and editing, and the like.

Contests

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

In addition to this I run numerous contests throughout the year, which in most cases requires a person on social media to like or follow me on social media, and/or identify a specific detail about one of my latest releases, and the prizes are usually pretty terrific which would encourage just about any fan of my genre to purchase one of my books.

Kindle fire giveaways (Kindle book review)

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series.

One of the ways I built up this page was to participate in period Kindle Fire Giveaways sponsored by the Kindle Book Review. To keep up interest in this page–I post my daily word count when I am writing, link to pictures I have put up on my Pinterest page, and post notifications when I do any promotions of my books. I will also pay to boost posts when I have published something new or when there is a promotion. I also have a number of Facebook groups that I will post to when I have something like a promotion, new book, or something else like an interview that I think might be of interest. One of the newest that I am quite happy to have joined is Clean Indie Reads, which seems a perfect place for me to connect with potential readers.

Donations

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

One activity that is not often mentioned but one I consider important is charitable donations. Whenever I receive or hear of a request for a donation of books, I always send something, with an inscription if I know what it should be. These are always appreciated, and I reach readers I might otherwise never know about. In addition, if my book is remaindered I’ll buy a number of copies to sell but also to donate on my own. I choose libraries in small cities that usually have small book-buying budgets and mail them a complimentary copy. The library can add it to their circulating library or pass it along. Some libraries will then buy copies of the other titles in the series.

What online tools and software can you use to record names and email addresses?

The winner by far on this topic was MailChimp. However, some of the authors had some very good alternatives.

Mailchimp

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

I get fan mail because I put my email address in my books, and people email me all the time. So far, all positive:-) Also, on my website and email signature, I have a link to emailmeform.com. And then I use MailChimp to send out notices about free books, and any new releases.

Author Carolyn Hughey @ScribBLINGDIVA (K. T. Roberts) (Website) is a published author of humorous contemporary romance and mystery novels.

I use my own email GoDaddy contact list and add the name to a distribution list. I also belong to other small groups where I add names to MailChimp for a monthly newsletter. My website has a link for subscribers, ScribBLING Divas wordpress blog signup, The Write Authors on Facebook and blog signups. At local book signings, I have a guest book sign in where I offer a gift card for signing up.

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author. She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I like to use MailChimp to create and manage my mailing list. I have reveals to join my mailing list on my website and at the end of every book. When I do blog tours, I always add joining my mailing list as a giveaway option and that has helped it grow the most. Of course, I do get the occasional subscriber from time to time.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

I use MailChimp, mostly because the price is right, since it free up to 2000 subscribers. Most services start charging at 500 and I’m already over that.

Joseph Lallo @jrlallo (Website) is a bestselling author of the Science Fiction & Fantasy series: The Book of Deacon Trilogy.

I try to cast a wide net when it comes to connecting with readers. Just as I’ve found that the best way to sell a book is to have it for sale where people want to buy it (wherever that might be), I’ve found that the best way to connect with fans is to be present on the network they most use, whichever that might be. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram mostly. I’ve found Facebook and Twitter to be the most valuable, though Goodreads and Tumblr are great too.

As for tools, I do have a newsletter which I’m beginning to work on developing. I use MailChimp for it and it works great. My website is a semi-custom theme built upon WordPress. I don’t do a lot of searching for readers. I’m not as active on blogs and forums as I might be, and I’ve got this weird notion that showing up on a blog in search of readers is a little like poaching.

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series.

However, in the last year as Facebook has started limited who actually sees any normal (un-boosted) post, I also started encouraging fans to sign up for my newsletter.

For this newsletter I use MailChimp.com, and I recently upgraded from the free version so that I could send a reply letter when someone signed up that offered free coupons for various books.

I only started developing a newsletter signup a year ago (should have done it earlier!), as I prepared for the launch of my third book. I started out by emailing any fan who had emailed me personally and asked if they would like to sign up–stressing that i would only send out a newsletter when I had an announcement for a new publication. I also added a signup link to the ends of all my books and stories and put the link on my website. I notice after a promotion–when sales (and therefore readers) goes up–the sign-ups for this newsletter does increase a bit.

Chantel Rhondeau @ChantelRhondeau (Website) is a Romantic suspense author. Chantel writes the Agents in Love series.

I’m fairly new to the mailing list thing, not realizing how important it was in the beginning. Now, I have an account through MailChimp and I put the link for the mailing list and the end of my books, encouraging readers to sign up to get information about my new releases if they enjoyed what they read. I also placed a sign up form on my website that is near the top of it. I did all of this before doing a free giveaway on one of my books, and ended up with several sign ups, so it seems to be working. I look forward to seeing what others have done!

Contact form plugin

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

For my fans who want even more detailed news and updates on releases, they have the option to sign up for my newsletter via my website. If you’re looking for a more technical response, I use one of many readily available contact form plugins available on the web.

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

I use every tool available. I have a sign up page on my website. I send out tweets encouraging readers to sign up. Also I try to capture readers at events and book signings then add them to the list.

Software and Services

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author. She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I just released a newsletter informing my subscribers that extended samples of my books are now available on NoiseTrade for free download. Since I write in more than one genre, I think it’s a great site to introduce readers to titles they might not of read.

In the future, I would like to put novellas, extra chapters, or scenes from different points of view together and give those away free to anyone who subscribes as a thank you to my readers for subscribing.

Constant Contact

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I use Constant Contact for my emails/newsletter list.

Excel

Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman (Website) is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author.

I have a website, dianneharman.com as well as a blog. I’ve just signed up for a newsletter feature and I have no idea how that will go. I have lists of people on Excel spreadsheets that are notified with a new release. That has proven to be very successful. I generally send it out to friends, acquaintances, and the book list.

Rafflecopter

Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh (Website) is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.

I recently began to compile a list of readers for my mailing list. At some point very soon, I’m going to put out a plea on Facebook and on my blog, but even though I haven’t done that yet, I already have quite a list going. I’m one of the authors participating in a Kindle giveaway in which the host of the promotion asked sponsors to provide a Twitter handle or Facebook page for contest entrants to follow as a way of gaining extra points on Rafflecopter. Instead of providing my Facebook Author Page URL like I normally would, I decided to use this opportunity to begin building my mailing list. Readers can earn extra points in the giveaway by signing up for my mailing list, and just a few days into the giveaway, I already have dozens of new potential readers waiting to receive my newsletter.

WIX

Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

I use an app that I installed through my web provider (Wix) that compiles a list of people who are interested in my website and who sign up for updates.

Weebly signup sheet

Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh (Website) is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.

Right now, I’m using a simple contact form on my (Weebly) website. It’s very easy for readers to fill out, and Weebly sends me an email each time someone signs up. In addition to finding readers via giveaways and contests, I also rely heavily on blogging. It certainly hasn’t happened overnight, but my readership has gradually expanded. The great thing about blogging is it gives you a chance to have an ongoing conversation with readers. I try to respond to every comment, even if it’s just a thank you. Through blogging, I’ve met both readers and authors, and I’ve made many new friends.

What groups do other authors use to develop their list?

Groups can be invaluable in developing your reader list. Here’s what some of the Spotlight crew had to say about using groups to develop their lists.

General

Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman (Website) is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author.

I use twitter, Google+, Facebook & Goodreads. I do a lot with Goodreads because this is where the readers are. The others are kind of like shooting fish in a pool. You never know what percent of those are readers and what percent of those will be interested in your genre. I am active in several groups on Google+ that are specific to writers. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. Other than the Authors Social Media Support Group, I’ve had very little luck with involvement. ASMSG has been a huge factor in whatever success I have had as an author, not only for all the subgroups, but for the help I’ve received with all kinds of questions. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Twitter I use, but again it’s kind of a shotgun thing. I have almost 30,000 followers, but what number of those are readers and what number of those interested in my genre? Don’t know. On occasion I take part in the tweet teams on World Literary Café and ASMSG, particularly if I’m offering a reduction in price or introducing a new book.

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman (Website) writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers.

I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Goodreads as my primary focus social media outlets, as well as the Independent Author’s Network (IAN) blog site, Author’s Corner, and The Indy Writer’s Group as forums for my books. I never attempt to “sell” my books on any of these outlets, but instead focus on inter reacting with old friends and making new ones while allowing them to make their own decisions as to purchase my books or not. I find other authors on these sites who constantly harp on their books and beg for people to purchase them tedious and boring.

Goodreads

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

I’m partial to Goodreads forums. Many young book lovers, my target audience, use Goodreads to find other readers and discover books. I have looked at writer forums and Amazon forums before, but I can’t keep up with it all.

I do quite a bit to find new readers, it ranges from very basic in book advertisements to writing and sharing content amongst a close group of fellow self-publishing authors and participation in online (social media based or live chat) release parties. In addition to this I advertise on various book sites like Goodreads.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I have a Goodreads page, and post reviews fairly regularly. These seem to get a good response from my “followers.” I have joined in various discussion groups, but do that less now. I’m thinking of setting up a discussion group on a number of specific topics when I finish a collection of stories I’m working on. I’m also on LibraryThing and LinkedIn, but less active on those sites.

Award-winning Author Mohana Rajakumar @moha_doha (Website) is an author based in Qatar. She has a PhD and has been involved in various foundations supporting young writers.

I really love Goodreads for finding readers. Because those who read your book and like it are likely to read other books by the same author. I have has great success writing to past reviewers of my books in posting early reviews of new titles or even beta reading, which is offering comments on a manuscript in progress. They’re often excited to read something before everyone else can and because they’re avid readers, they have insightful comments.

Hope that’s helpful as that’s the only real list I use for readers.

Genre Specific

Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

Sales and other special events are posted to several Facebook groups, specialized to my niche market, such as the Goodreads Clean Romances page. I’d love to find more!

Speaking at conferences

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

I have one of the best ways to build my readership and followers is with face time…actual time in front of readers. Speeches at writer’s conferences and book festivals always show a marked increase. Another successful method in reaching out to book clubs, Friends of the Library groups/chapters, writers groups, local women’s and men’s groups.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I recently participated on a crime fiction panel and was pleasantly surprised to hear a woman in the audience talk about my books. She was a poet, not a fiction writer, and was not the kind of person who would normally read my books. This has happened quite often.

I go to a few conferences, participate in panels, comment regularly on lots of blogs, post reviews, and generally try to keep my name alive. I don’t think reaching readers is a matter of working with any one site but in general maintaining a level of participation in the online world. I’ve tried to track e-book sales according to certain activities, but I can’t identify any correlation.

Wattpad

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

Good question. The truth is I’ve been using a scattershot method of enlisting new readers and I’ve taken a new direction. Currently I am advertising heavily and have seen a nice uptick in my sales. I’ve also put my first WIP up on Wattpad and am waiting to see how that turns out.

What I have discovered is that my newsletter is important because since enlisting the subscribers as beta readers I’ve also made them into fans and I want to create more of that. Not only is it good for sales, I’ve already made some new friends.

This reply is pretty scattershot itself and I hope it’s of value. If you choose not to use it I’ll understand. Your support has already been invaluable to me.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

Wattpad is an interesting site that I have used a bit. I post a sample chapter from a book, for example, and then link to the whole book on Amazon. I’ve posted a short story, related to one of my mystery series.

I use these sites to introduce readers to my books. I’m less interested in putting their email addresses into a program for a newsletter, etc., than I am in making them curious enough about me to follow a link to my books and try one.

Support groups

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman (Website) writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers.

I am constantly in contact with support groups as I come across them, such as this one, and respond to them on a daily or as requested basis.

Are there problems you should avoid?

Author Jake Needham @jakeneedham (Website) is a best-selling Mystery & Thrillers Author.

I have an opt-in mailing list and people who visit my website can add their names to the list. I don’t use any online tools to capture email addresses. My list is strictly opt-in and the only way to do that is by filling out a short form on my site. After I set up the mailing list, it very quickly ran up to about a thousand names, but over the last year or so growth has slowed to a trickle. I have no idea why since I’ve changed nothing and the number of visits I get to my website has steadily increased. Maybe newsletters have simply gone out of style and few people want to receive them anymore. That’s easy to understand since most of us already get far more email these days than we know what to do with.

I should also say that I have the sense that my mailing list is worthless as a marketing tool. Most if not all of the people on it are fans who have already read most of my books. I do get a lot of nice email back whenever I send out a newsletter that has any substance at all. Clearly many readers do enjoy hearing from me and reading my thoughts on things that touch on the subject matter of the books I write, but I don’t think the newsletters actually sell any books for me at all. Trying to sell more books through an opt-in mailing list is almost the definition of preaching to the choir.

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

I, like most people I know, am annoyed by the constant promotional efforts many writers use. As a result, if I am friends with someone, but the majority of their posts are promotional in nature, I’m going to distance myself from them. Everyone has to do some promotion, but that promotion should be a small portion of the social interactions, not the majority.

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

To me the term “capture” implies some sort of unwanted data collection to somehow spam my fans with news they don’t necessarily want. Typically all news of new releases is available through social media platforms, so any fans that follow me will receive updates as they occur.

Unwanted email

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

There is so much unwanted email these days that I have decided to stay away from this. I have a list of about 1500 names and addresses, but these change so often that I felt it wasn’t worth the effort to keep up the list and then send newsletters or announcements to people who are already complaining about unwanted email.

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I’m mainly on Twitter and Facebook. I use Twitter for most of my interaction with fans, and usually only promote on there once a month when I run a BookBub ad. If you’re constantly promoting, you’ll lose your existing fans, and you’ll be unfollowed.

Time

Liliana Hart @Liliana_Hart (Website) is a NYT and USA Today Bestselling author of romantic mysteries and suspense.

Thanks so much for emailing me. I want you to know I read each and every email from my readers, and those emails are awesome and keep me going and motivated. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the point where I just can’t respond to them all in a timely manner. I wish I could respond faster and stay on top of it all, but I’ve realized I’m not Wonder Woman, despite what my favorite coffee mug says. Just be assured that I’m using my email response time to get the next book out faster. Thank you all so much for your support and for reading.

Spam

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

In my experience, people are so overwhelmed with spam and emails that it’s really difficult to get them to subscribe to email lists. They have to be (a) really passionate fans and/or (b) given something valuable in return, to entice them.

How should you use the reader list?

Now that you have laid all the ground work, planted the seeds, it’s time to harvest the crop. What do I do with my list?

Usage

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author. She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

For now, I use my mailing list to alert my readers about the following: cover reveals, new releases and promotions. I send one out every three months or so. I like to be able to give my subscribers a reason to join, so I let them know of any promotions before anyone else.

Search engines/rankings

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

Because I’m reaching out directly to my audience via search engines, which are now ranking my posts on the first page for the search terms, my website traffic is up and I have more opportunity to garner a potential reader’s interest. With that said, the majority of those visitors are looking for something in particular, so converting them from a visitor who is looking for a specific type of information to someone interested in books can be difficult.

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

There is no single sure-fire method that works 100% of the time. Social media has had its heyday. Readers want more substance. They are overwhelmed with the preponderance of authors and books saturating the market. It’s confusing when there are hundreds (or thousands) of new authors flooding social media every month. Readers tend to stick to their favorites and sometimes it’s difficult to get them to break that habit. What works best is to have the best product you can have and get out and reach the readers. Face time with readers is important and that helps word of mouth…and word of mouth sells books. Advertising is only so-so effective and must be well-placed & well-timed or it’s a waste of money. Today’s author must try everything they can to sell books. When something works, stick with it until it stops working then find something else that works.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

What do I do with the email list? I send out a newsletter, but I try really hard not to annoy people, so I try to make it (a) substantive, with some actual “content,” not just all about me and please to buy my books, and (b) I don’t send it out more than five times a year. When I have something substantial to announce, I send an email, and I know from MailChimp.com (the e-newsletter service I use) that I have a very high “open” rate compared to other marketers, so I think I’m doing something right.

Best Selling Author M. R. Cornelius @marshacornelius (Website) writes post-apocalyptic thrillers. Marsha echoed several responses I received to this study.

Looking forward to this post James, because I do a terrible job of finding readers. I could use some tips.

Throughout this study the authors have echoed how they use their list. They not only use the list to announce new releases, promotions and giveaways but to build relationships.

The communications should be well-timed and not overdone. The primary theme the authors used was ‘give them something of value’. There is no silver bullet here. Write a good book. Cultivate it. And then reap the rewards.

Here are the questions you need to answer.

Do you have a reader lists?
What methods would you use to develop the list?
How would you use the list?

To check out the complete responses to the Study from each author, click the link below.

How Do You Develop and Use a List of Your Readers? – HBS Author’s Corner STUDY Detail

Some of the sources of information offered by authors follow:

Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden (Website) is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.

Slowly building a fan base through interaction.
Who to follow to build your fan base.
What days and style are most advantageous for social media updates?
What should you tweet to sell books?

Follow me:

Follow Me on Twitter: @jimhbs
Or EMAIL at: jim@jamesmoushon.com
View my website: James Moushon – Mystery Writer
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Or my Mystery blog: HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novel: Black Mountain Secrets

NEW RELEASE: Another Jonathon Stone Mystery: Game Of Fire

  • http://terryambrose.com Terry Ambrose

    Thanks for republishing this study. As one of the included authors, I’m happy to provide info that might help others!

  • http://HBSAuthor'sCorner James Moushon

    Henry:

    Thanks so much. This is an important and sometimes overlooked topic. You did a great job reformatting the original. I am getting good responses from the authors included in the study.

    I will try to furnish a smaller version next time. I have over 235 authors involved, many of which had nothing to add and were looking forward to the finished product.

    James Moushon

  • http://www.jinxschwartz.com Jinx Schwartz

    Wow, you really did a great job of sorting this out. I will be sharing with other authors! jinx