You may know the answer to this question, but we’ll ask it anyway: who is a writer’s customer? The answer: their readers, buyers of their books, their fans, etc.
Indeed, all writers enjoy the publicity and success of their work–not to mention the people who support their short stories, novels, essays, poems, etc. But with all this giving that the customers… well, gives–there comes a time when it’s your turn to give back.
“Uh-oh. How am I going to give back? I don’t know what to give!” If your solution is, “I’ll just write another book to sell to them,” you’re completely going about this the wrong way. Take a few steps back, put yourself in the mind of the customer, and ask, “As the reader, what do I want from my favorite author?”
This is where the strategic writer begins in giving back. However, they go a step further–they ask their audience what they want. It’s one thing to assume what the customer wants–but it’s another to take a step forward and ask. Look at that! You’re walking now.
There are many ways to interact with your readers. But one essential way (in an age of growing technology) is social media. In a previous blog, we discovered how to conduct a Twitter Chat–and that method certainly doesn’t have to be ruled out now.
There’s another way to ask readers what they expect from you in a reward: broadcasting a video (live or non-live). Even YouTube, a website I’ve been a part of for years, now offers a live-streaming feature for uploading videos. If you have a YouTube and you’re a writer, now’s the time to utilize it and ask your fans how you can give back to them. Even if they don’t want anything, just imagine the publicity you’ll get for being such a charismatic author. Heck, forget the publicity–the biggest reward is the one you don’t expect in return!
But let’s be clear about something before we get ahead of ourselves: don’t make promises you can’t keep–and this is especially important when it comes to your audience / customers / readers–for the sake of this blog, we’ll call all of those people customers. Making outlandish promises could promise you bad feedback, and social media has made it possible more than ever for even so much as one person’s complaint against you to influence thousands, millions, (and yes, more) of people to turn the other cheek when considering what you have to offer. The bottom line: know what you’re promising before you promise it.
To give you a taste of the wrath of a displeased customer, let’s look into the example of a scandal that followed Comcast back in 2014. A customer called the cable company to disconnect their service because they moving to another location. The representative made this person await a response for twenty minutes, then (upon responding) was so rude that the customer felt it necessary to post an audio recording of the conversation (at least a partial recording) on SoundCloud. Time magazine / NPR / Good Morning America / were a few major media platforms to pick-up the conversation. Yikes! You nor I want to find ourselves in that situation.
But for those promises you make that you know you can deliver on… well, deliver on them! Give the audience what you say you’re going to give them–which could be anything from a 10% discount for the first 100 people who buy your next book, to a gift card, to any small rewards you can think of. (To be honest, I–as the customer–would trust an author who promises me a small reward before I’d trust one who says, for example, “The FIRST person to tweet using the hashtag for my latest poem will receive 10 poems hard-copy in the mail, an all expenses-paid trip to Hollywood, CA, and–” Click. I just changed the channel.
So what’s your exercise today? It could be something so simple as saying “Thank you” to those people who’ve supported your book so far. Maybe you’re even selling one right now and have some people who bought it. Take some time to think of how you can repay the people who’ve paid you with their interest, their attention, their time. Even critics who don’t appreciate your work deserve rewards–such as another “Thank you” for their honesty and insights that can help you improve. (But certainly don’t pay back the troll who says, “This author deserves to die! He’ll never amount to anything and his work is meaningless! HA-HA-HA! xDDDD ROFL!!”–Yeah, those people deserve to be reported to the sites mods, and arrested by the local police if telling you such hurtful things face-to-face. “Deserves to die”–yeah, that’s a death threat, mister critic.)
It should also be noted (and per my apologies, should have been noted since blog post # 1) that there is no set-in-stone distinction between the reader and writer. The writer becomes the reader when they read the works of other authors in inspiration for their own; and the reader becomes the writer when after reading enough works, they decide to create their own. (By works, I mean poems, short stories, novels, novellas, essays, etc.)