10 Ways Indie Authors Can Increase Reader Engagement

engagementI’ve been writing this blog since December of 2011.  I started the blog as a way to reach readers with the books I was peddling, but more than that it has become a sounding board for all things writing.  I love providing writing tips in a concise manner, helping indie writers like myself succeed in the fast paced world of writing and publishing.

I’ve learned a thing or two over the years, namely how to drive more traffic to my blog which in turn sells books while helping fellow authors be better writers.

Here are a few observations:

  1. Blogging – There is blogging done right and blogging done wrong. The important thing is that your blog be something meaningful and not just daily ranting.  Also, if you find a blog post worth sharing, by all means share it.  I have been recently re-blogging posts of note.  The one thing I’ve learned about blogging, however, is that you have to follow some rules (see #2-4).
  2. Find a niche – I have found the niche of “writing about writing” and have had great success with it.  Writing may not be your bag, however.  Write about what you know.  Write often, at least once or twice a week.  I have also had some success with writing about what J.R.R. Tolkien thought about writing.
  3. Comment and Like (BLOGS) – Be sure to read other people’s blogs.  They work very hard to publish their thoughts on various subjects, and it is always cool to get a few likes.  Don’t just randomly like blog posts.  Really read them.  The point here is to engage the blogosphere.
  4. Maintain the Readership – People who follow you sometimes comment.  Always be prompt in responding, even if it means a simple “thank you”.  People like talking to a real person.  If you don’t believe me, try to have a conversation with that automated voice that calls your cell phone and wants to sell you viagra.
  5. Tweet Deck – This is Twitter’s most versatile tool imaginable.  I was told the other day that Twitter is such a waste of time.  You may feel like this, but that only means you are not using it to your advantage.  For heaven’s sake stop spamming your book to your tweeps.  This is the best way to lose followers.  I use Tweet Deck to follow the hashtag #amwriting and #writetip.  I then engage people who tweet in those hashtags.  I’m genuine, offer help when I can, and respond in kind.  I don’t use Twitter for spamming, but use it for engagement.
  6. Crowdfire – I don’t use Twitter to follow tweeps back, but instead, I use an automated message via Crowdfire that tells them about the blog.  The writing tips are free, but when they go to the blog, they will see a tab that says “Books I’ve Written”.  Some of them actually go there and buy a book because they are cheap (none over $2.99).  Crowdfire has real-time analytics that help you keep track of your followers and will show you who just unfollowed you.
  7. Follow Professionals – When you use Crowdfire to follow those who follow you, only follow those who are legitimate writers or professionals looking to benefit from your Twitter relationship.  I do not follow back people who list in their description anything to do with “getting more Twitter followers” or something to that effect.  These spammers will fill up your feed in a hurry.
  8. Ditch Facebook – I’m in the process of getting myself off of Facebook entirely.  It is the most useless social media to involve yourself with if you want to promote books.  The reason is two-fold: 1) Only 20% of your followers will see your posts and 2) A writer who needs to be writing and engaging can spend hours floating through a scum-filled sea of shares and useless status updates before they ever see anything worthwhile.  It is indeed the trailer park of social media.
  9. Klout – This is a website that helps you see how much of an impact you have on the internet.  I love using Klout for two reasons: 1) I get to find articles that interest me that I can schedule to Tweet out at the times that my Twitter feed is most trafficked.  2) I discover new and exciting tips for helping me become a better writer.  My Klout score went from a 25 when I first signed on, and now it is at 59.
  10. PodcastingRyan McKinley and I have recorded a podcast twice a month for over two years now.  We completely enjoy it, and it gives us a chance to engage our audience a little more and show them that we aren’t just a couple of faceless writers but real people.  We have reached a whole new audience with the podcast, and it has allowed us to get into a local science-fiction/fantasy convention as panelists where we will plug our books as we make new relationships with even more potential readers.

The results?  Well, I’m not going to guarantee that if you follow these tips you will see billions of fans, but it can’t hurt.  I’ve seen my stats increase exponentially on the blog because of this, as the stat bar below shows:

stat bar

If you can think of any other ways to increase your readership, then post them below.  I know this sounds like a lot of work, but with automated tweets and Klout posts, one can do all this in an hour or so, with checking in on tweeps throughout the day when you have spare time.  Speaking of which,  I have to get back to this epic science-fiction adventure story.  It won’t write itself.

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4 thoughts on “10 Ways Indie Authors Can Increase Reader Engagement

  1. I found your blog a few months ago when I was, ahem, procrastinating. I am at the very beginning of my writing career with the first draft of my first novel a few chapters from completion. Your advice and humor and curtain opening has been quite valuable to a writer at my level. Thank you for another helpful post!

    • Kelly you are so welcome. Thanks for supporting me and I hope that your novel comes together nicely. It’s a lot of work, but I’m sure you will do a good job of it. Keep at it!

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