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This blog was featured on 08/17/2019
Reader Engagement & Attraction: 3 Tips
Contributor
Written by
Hyba
August 2019
Writing
Contributor
Written by
Hyba
August 2019
Writing

I've had a lot of time, between writing my fiction books and trying to garner interest for them via online platforms, to think about how to best engage and interact with my readers. I want readers to be invested in my stories, and I've deliberated long and hard about how to create an engaged following of readers. I've looked far and wide for creative advice from authors online, and I've amassed a large amount of great ideas for authors to use to keep readers engaged and attract new readers.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that a large part of my audience so far exists on Tumblr, and they interact with me and my works through that platform - and the writing community on Tumblr, as you may have read on my earlier blog post, Why I Use Tumblr, is a very specific kind of experience. I also use Pinterest quite a bit for sharing moodboards and aesthethics and thematic images that go along with my WIPs. As such, a lot of my own reader engagement and attraction strategies are based on what's popular among Tumblr/Pinterest users, as well as plans for my own author website (currently still in the planning stage). That doesn't mean that they won't work for you, though! 

So far, here are some things that I've found that work, and some things that I can't wait to try out once I've published.

1. Get artistic! Make graphics, character portraits, maps, and illustrations.

Readers might love your book for its content, but a lot of readers are first attracted to a book based on its cover and design. Personally, I don't think the visual artistic creativity should stop there. As a reader, I know many readers who would be absolutely thrilled to see portraits of their favorite characters, illustrations of important scenes in the book, or even a map of your setting. It helps them visualize your book, which in turn creates a lasting impression for readers. 

Alternatively (or additionally), you can share these artistic creations via your social media platforms and author website. For example, if you check out Brandon Sanderson's website, he has an entire section dedicated just to artwork created for his books! A lot of them are pictures of his book covers - and in different languages, too! What a cool feature to have on your author website. This is definitely something I plan on doing on my future author website. 

Now, I know that a lot of us don't have the prerequisite skillsets for creating stunning illustrations and artwork and graphics based on our stories. That's okay. If you can find yourself an illustratory willing to work with you, that's probably best - but you can also try your hand at some photo manipulation, use free software like Canva and GIMP, and create something you're proud of! (I'm big on DIY, so I've been spending a lot of time learning to use GIMP and Canva together to create graphics, as well as practicing my art skills and creating character portraits!)

I've personally found that pairing my books posts up with a graphic, no matter how simple, gets them a lot more interest and interaction than a bare-text post. 

2. Talk about backstory.

In my fantasy books, I have a world that is rich with history, culture, and mystery. My books focus on the issue at hand, so there are some parts of the world that are totally awesome and have really cool backstories, but readers won't get to actually read about them because they're not altogether relevant to the plot. That's why I've decided to talk about the backstories of settings and characters through one of two ways: 

  1. Short Stories: So you have a super interesting or mysterious character. You wish you could share their backstory, but doing so in your book might detract from their intrigue. One thing you can do is write a short story based on that character's backstory! Not only will it give readers more to enjoy, it will also give them more info on your characters and settings without having to cram all of that stuff into your novel if you don't really have space for it. I use this for characters who aren't necessarily main characters, but who deserve their own story told nonetheless.
  2. World Encyclopaedia: A great companion for your fantasy novels may be an encyclopaedia-like book that readers can refer to when they want to know more about a certain setting or character. In my fantasy world, I have several books that characters themselves refer to at one point or another that discuss history and geography, and those are examples of books that I want to publish alongside my novels for die-hard fans to check out! This might also help them get answers to some of their questions.

3. Speaking of Short Stories...

Write short stories related to your book! These are a great way to hook new readers as well as give more quality content to fans of your writing and books. Short stories are easy to digest, and they're not a big time investment for readers. New readers will be more likely to read your entire short story than perhaps your entire book, especially if they're still not entirely sure about it. 

Currently, for my fantasy novels alone, I have over five short stories planned, most of them to do with character histories and past experiences, or events that have only been mentioned in passing and that readers might want to know more about. 

Also, if you're thinking of giving away something for free to get readers interested, it's a lot easier to give away a short story or two instead of an entire book that took you months or years to write!

I hope this has helped! Let me know if you've tried any of the above and how they worked out for you! 

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