The world’s most successful authors often talk of their readers in terms that border on reverence, as it should be. The secret to sustained success in publishing is cultivating a faithful fanbase that keeps returning for more book after book. In addition to working hard to produce good writing that will continue to please their audience, astute authors frequently communicate directly with their readers. Author websites are all the rage these days, and some of them are built in a very complex manner.
FSB Associates can be found online at https://fsbassociates.com. Fauzia Burke is the company’s founder and president. Her business focuses on public relations campaigns that use the Internet and author websites. We take great pride in our ability to put the full potential of the Internet to work for authors and the books they publish, and we are especially dedicated to tailoring our online presence to the needs of each individual project. We asked Fauzia, “What do you consider the most unique publicity scheme you’ve developed?” Here are several examples:
“Our website for Doug Stanton’s In Harm’s Way features a discussion board, video clips of the rescue at sea, audio interviews with persons who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945, and text and photographs. Through our campaign, we could present the book to a wide variety of readers, including World War II veterans, history enthusiasts, and high school and college students.
“To replicate the unsettling atmosphere of Christopher Rice’s supernatural thriller A Density Of Souls, we created an online gathering spot using animation and images. In addition, we added exclusive material such as a virtual yearbook from the New Orleans high school of the story and a back-story on the characters. Even more, we assisted in promoting Chris’s participation in the Real World show on MTV. A Density Of Souls was written by Christopher Rice.
“To show crucial locations in the Allied assault on German-held North Africa in 1942-1943, we utilized cutting-edge animated maps in our website for Rick Atkinson’s book An Army At Dawn, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Our website for Tony Horwitz’s Blue Latitudes, which combines a sea chart that chronicles the travels of Captain Cook with excerpts from the book that correlate to those passages, is brought to life with the assistance of animation.
“However, we do not utilize bells and whistles simply to use them. Our website for Mitch Albom’s novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven called for a more straightforward strategy, emphasizing the heartwarming narrative and the author’s superb writing. Because this is the kind of book that readers enjoy passing along to others, an electronic postcard has been created that readers can forward to their associates. There are also reading group resources, teaching aids, and Mitch’s question and answer session. In addition, for the Spanish version of the book, we have developed a website entirely in Spanish, enabling us to reach an even more significant number of people.
“In addition, we engaged in word-of-mouth marketing campaigns for each book to increase attention, website traffic, and media coverage. The most pleasing results, in the end, were created by these concerted efforts. These results were sales.” Many author websites are essentially merely stored, and their primary aim is to sell books. Some have a much more personal atmosphere and invite guests to: “Come on in and meet me. Stay and have a talk.” Why is it that best-selling writers have problems responding to letters from fans, putting responses to message boards on their websites, and continuously upgrading them with information about their new project or where they will be appearing when there are so many other demands on their time?
Nicholas Sparks, whose debut novel, The Notebook, set a new standard for romance, responds to the question: You communicate with your readers more than many authors do. His website may be found at www.nicholassparks.com.
“There’s a lot of inaccurate information about me and my books, but many people want to know more.” His website offers a particularly engaging level of interactivity, with both discussion boards and an email address for followers to use to get in touch. Why did he choose to handle it in this manner? “I wanted the correct answers to be posted where readers could quickly obtain them, so that was my goal. A website is a tool that may be used to ensure that people are aware of the truth.”
Take, for instance, the query “Where did I receive the idea for The Notebook?” as an example. If I state that it was inspired by my wife’s grandparents, then this is very much the truth, but it does not provide too much information. The readers want to know more about where you got your inspiration. In what specific way? How exactly did all of those thoughts come together? As a result, I laid out the entire circumstance for the readers to comprehend.”
Does such engagement contribute to the excitement that people have been having about your books? “Perhaps to some extent. However, not everyone is interested in hearing about a writer’s daily struggles and triumphs. Simply said, all they want to do is read a good book.”
Anna Jacobs, whose works may be found at http://www.annajacobs.com. The author of 29 books, most of which are romances and historical sagas. Her major publisher is based in the United Kingdom, and her works are available for purchase in various countries, including the United States. She lives in Australia. We asked Anna: “It appears that authors of romance novels have more intimate contact with their readers, as seen by the fact that they engage in conversation with their readers via websites, message boards, online chats, and in-person book readings.
Why is it the case? “I’m not sure it’s just romance authors. My personal philosophy holds that if you give something back to the universe, you will be rewarded with positive karma. In my opinion, that is a really feminine approach. Or, to put it in my daughter’s words: “What goes around, comes around.” But I also try to stay in contact with readers because I believe that if you can ‘attach’ readers to your work and publish quality books (the latter being the most important prerequisite), those readers will spread the word about your writing to others.
“Emails from readers provide me with a wealth of information regarding topics that particularly interest them. That won’t be a problem at all. Writing is a reasonably solitary activity, so it’s good to be able to communicate with other people every once in a while. And all of us crave affirmation and constructive criticism. I’m just as human as the next person. It makes my day whenever I learn that one of my readers has appreciated one of my novels. It’s a lot more entertaining than looking at sales data.”
Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the only author to have won the Romance Writers of America Favorite Book of the Year Award five times. She was put into the Romance Writers Hall of Fame in 2001. Some say she started and perfected the “romantic comedy” school of fiction. More than 30 languages have versions of her books. All of their writing has a lighthearted tone.
We asked Susan: “It appears that you have a good deal of interaction with the people who visit your website. You even identified a few different types of readers, such as those who appreciate the comedic aspects of your books and those who are more interested in the dramatic developments of the characters. In what ways does the contact with your fans influence your writing?”
“Even while I care deeply about my audience, I try very hard to avoid being influenced by the feedback they provide. Ten years ago, I realized that every book I wrote would be someone’s favorite and least favorite and that not everyone (gasp!) would appreciate them. This was an extremely relieving experience. It suggested that I focus solely on gratifying my desire to produce my greatest work. Undoubtedly the most significant “Aha Moment” of my professional life.”
Not only do authors of romance novels have their own websites, but Stuart Woods, who writes hard-hitting mysteries and has appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list multiple times, is also a writer of romance novels.
Stuart responds to the inquiry by saying he is one of the best-selling writers maintaining an active email relationship with his readers. Why? “It provides me with a quick form of feedback. I have the impression that what I’m doing is the appropriate action. I have never been swayed to alter my practices as a result of the feedback provided by my audience. Most readers have expressed their adoration for the works in personal communications with me.” In addition, the authors who cherish their audiences aren’t limited to those with well-known names.
Lydia Joyce’s most recent novel, “The Veil of Night,” may be found at her website, http://www.lydiajoyce.com. This book is an intense and sensuous reimagining of the Gothic genre, and it has a mystery Duke, a decaying mansion, and an older heroine who keeps her secrets to herself. Lydia said, “To be quite blunt, if I didn’t have any followers, I wouldn’t be able to generate any money. And if I couldn’t generate a profit from my writing, it would just remain a hobby for me! However, the importance of my supporters to me extends far beyond the realm of monetary gain.
My experiences as a Girl Scout around campfires inspired me to start telling ghost stories, eventually developing my desire to become a writer. Seeing how happy my stories make other people is one of the most important things that keep me going. I loved making people feel things, getting them excited, making them laugh, and caring about the people in the stories I told. If that weren’t the case, I’d be perfectly content to keep the stories I’ve concocted in my head, where they first took form.” The Richard and Rose books are a series of romantic suspense novels written by Lynne Connolly. These tales are set in the middle of the eighteenth century. In her most recent novel, “Harley Street,” the protagonists, the new Lord, and Lady Strang, face up against their mortal adversaries, Julia and Steven Drury, in a story of past mistakes that put a newfound love to the test.
The question “Why are your fans essential to you as an author?” was posed to Lynne. “They affirm my work and reassure me that I am headed in the correct direction. Fans are not mindless admirers; in fact, they can frequently provide you with information that you were previously lacking. Their encouragement inspires me to keep working, and I can now approach publishers and agents with self-assurance when presenting my work to them. When it comes to money, people buy the books, which paves the way for me to write more and ensures that my publisher will continue to have faith in what I have to say. The entire day consists of me sitting alone at home with only a keyboard for company. Fans link me to the world and keep me focused on my goals. A reader is also considered a fan. They finish the connection, the communication that takes place between the writer and the reader.
Medallion Press published “The Jewel and the Sword” by Marjorie Jones. She values her audience very highly since “My readers are the most important aspect of the whole writing process to me. The satisfaction of completing a book is second to none. It’s a mind-blowing experience when you finally sell your book to a publisher. That book being well received by readers is more important than either of those things. Why are they as significant as they are? Because if I didn’t have them, my stories would just be stuck inside the confines of my hard drive for all eternity. No purpose. There is no rationale for existing. The readers breathe life into the tales.”
This summer, set aside a little bit of time to learn more about the author who is your favorite. Please let them know if you thought their most recent book was excellent. They are looking forward to hearing from you.